Press release

Award for Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire’s Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre

Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire’s Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre has been given a Big Society Award.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre, an exceptional charity providing a wide and unique range of therapies to MS sufferers, are the latest winners of the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award.

The Centre, founded 30 years ago by a group of MS suffers, helps those in need of vital extra care that is either not available on the NHS or too expensive privately. As an organisation run by people with MS for people with MS, they are in a unique position to really understand the on-going needs and support that can help people make the most of their lives within the confines of the condition.

Over the past 30 years the centre has grown considerably with over one thousand people members registered, at least 350 people attending each week and over 40 volunteers providing a variety of services and therapies including:

  • physiotherapy
  • hydrotherapy
  • counselling
  • a dietician
  • a MS specialist nurse plus many complementary therapies

The Therapy Centre receives no statutory funding, so all the money raised to run the Centre comes from fund-raising activities and generous donations which together raise in excess of £300,000 each year to support the vital work that goes on to support the citizens of Beds and Northants.

Commenting on the award Prime Minister David Cameron said:

This charity provides vital help and support to thousands of people a year. I am delighted to award the Therapy Centre with a Big Society Award in recognition of their significant achievements over the last 30 years. The work they do cuts to the core of what the Big Society stands for and provides an outstanding contribution to the local community.

Valerie Woods, Centre Manager and co-founder of the MS Therapy Centre:

I am so delighted to have to have received a Big Society Award, a wonderful accolade to reward our many volunteers and staff. We hope this will help encourage local organisations and Trusts to support this Centre as funding has been very difficult in the past two years.

The MS Therapy Centre will be celebrating their 30th birthday on 7 June, 2013 with a special party at the Centre where the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis, Professor Alastair Compston from Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Rex Woods, Founder member will be speaking. Valerie Woods has also self-published a book on her 30 year journey alongside her husband, an MS sufferer. All proceeds from the sale of her book are going directly back to the Centre.

Notes to editors

Images available upon request. For more information please contact:

Valerie Woods – MS Therapy Centre Phone: 01234 404 702

Laura Piscaer - Big Society Awards Phone: 0207 845 5895 Email:

On the Big Society Awards:

The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrates the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.

The award focuses upon 3 specific areas:

Outstanding contribution to community

  • people, projects and organisations that enable communities to drive change themselves
  • projects and organisations that allow the community to identify solutions
  • people, projects and organisations that inspire others to contribute to their community

Improving lives and society through innovation, collaboration and new partnerships

  • people and organisations taking new approaches to public services
  • successful collaboration and partnerships between public, private and voluntary sector - working together to benefit communities

Engaging in social action

  • people, projects and organisations taking action in their community
  • working together for social change (eg through creating groups, campaigns, movements)
  • generosity of time, money, skills and other resources – in support of social action

When launching the awards, the Prime Minister said:

There are some amazing projects and remarkable voluntary work going on in towns and cities up and down the country, by all kinds of organisations from large enterprises to tiny grassroots schemes and inspirational individuals.

These awards are a chance to pay tribute to those making a valuable contribution to their community, the real champions of the Big Society, but perhaps more importantly, I hope they will motivate many others to take action, get involved and drive change in their area.

Nominations come in from the general public after which there follows a process of scoring and short-listing by civil servants and a further short-listing by a Panel of Ministers and independent external experts. This Panel makes recommendations to the Prime Minister who makes the final decisions about who to make the award to. Twelve winners are decided each quarter meeting and then announced once a week throughout the year.

76 winners have been announced to date, including:

Central Surrey Health - provides therapy and community nursing services to the 280,000 strong population of central Surrey. It was the first social enterprise to come out of the NHS, and is owned and run by the 700+ nurses and therapists it employs. Its ethos is to combine the values and principles of the NHS with the ‘can do’ culture of a successfully run business.

CALLplus - is a charity providing emotional support and home based practical help to people with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses

Cool2Care - is a childcare introductory service that recruits, screens and trains care-workers (Personal Assistants, PAs), bringing together families with disabled children or young adults and people who want to work caring for them.

For a full list of winners visit the Big Society Awards website.

Published 24 May 2013