Lighting up Lancashire for Lyme by Sophie Ward

LDUK has kicked off Lyme Disease awareness month with a bang. Across the country with the work of the LDUK team and members of our Online Community, we have been able to get major UK landmarks to glow green in support of Lyme disease awareness which is just incredible and leave me completely speechless.

Last Saturday (4th May 2019), my family and I hosted an ALL WHITE ABBA NIGHT in support of Lyme Disease UK and what a fabulous night it was. The dance floor was full all night long and with the generosity of the guests and people in the community donating to the cause we managed to raise £280 for the charity. It was amazing to see the residents from my Dad’s park home and parks: Wyrevale Park & Acresfield Park, come together and go the extra mile having slogan t-shirts made with lines from ABBA songs. It really meant SO much to me to see everyone having the best time and really getting into the night. The local printers here in Garstang: PRINTMOB, kindly donated the amazing Lyme Disease UK selfie frame & donated to the charity from the cost of the t-shirts. It is really heart-warming to have the support from the local community. It really does mean the world. A big thank you to everyone who attended the evening, donated and made it a truly memorable night.

I then had the AMAZING opportunity to appear as a guest on ITV Granada Reports on Monday 6th May 2019,  where I shared my Lyme story and raised awareness about the disease. This was a truly amazing experience. ITV looked after my family so well and I am so thankful for the opportunity. I know that since the interview, ITV have been getting a lot of feedback and everyone is still viewing the interview and sharing it over the social media platforms which really is helping get the message out there. A BIG thank you to ITV – I’m so very grateful to you. You can catch up on the interview below:

Then a very MAGICAL and special event happened, as Blackpool Council kindly lit up Blackpool Tower green in support of Lyme disease awareness. This too is so special as it is also the tower’s 125th birthday next Tuesday! It is such an honour to be able to tie these events together in Lancashire.

John Gilmore ( Gilly) from BBC Radio Lancashire kindly came down and conducted an interview which went live on his afternoon show on the 8th May 2019 and can be listened to below.

Jessica from That’s Lancashire TV also kindly came down in support and interviewed me for channel Freeview 7: That’s Lancashire TV’s news loop running from 6pm-8am on the 8th May-9th May, to capture this moment. I am so grateful to all the local media stations for their support and enthusiasm with helping us raise as much awareness as possible. We can’t forget to say the BIGGEST thank you to fellow members Angela Jones, her family and Yvonne Forey for coming down in support! I know how difficult it is with Lyme to come to these events. So, your support made the night even more special and memorable. Thank you!

Nicola Adam, the local news editor, also goes above and beyond to help raise awareness as she placed my story in the Blackpool Gazette on the night of the light up 7th May, 2019 and on the front page of my local paper the Garstang Courier. I am grateful to her for all her hard work, amazing write ups and her support. Thank you, Nicola.

I hope that we can keep the ball rolling and really leave our mark on the world. We really are making this year’s awareness month a month to remember already and we are only one week in. Please enjoy the pictures from all the other amazing UK landmarks glowing green in support of us.

I will be focusing my podcast interviews on fellow sufferers and their stories and LDUK’s #WakeUptoLyme campaign to help inspire and motivate people to keep raising awareness on the disease over the whole month of May. You can listen to my podcast Chronic but Iconic on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. LDUK’s Co-Founder and Chair, Natasha Metcalf, and Press Manager, Julia Knight, have appeared as podcast guests talking about all the hard work that goes into Lyme Disease UK.  You don’t want to miss their amazing interviews! Natasha’s podcast interview was aired on 9th May and can be found here. It is an amazing interview really highlighting all the hard work that goes into the charity. Thank you, Natasha, for being so open and it was an honour to have you as a guest. Julia Knight’s incredibly inspiring interview about her story and her role as Press Manager which aired on 16th May can be found here.

Once again, remember dropping leaflets, talking to friends and family really does bring about a lot of awareness… more than you might think. Get involved, get your family involved and most importantly, have fun, make memories and be proud of all the awareness work you are doing.

To finish I would personally like to thank the whole LDUK team for their amazing support. They are my second family and I love and adore them all so much. People forget how poorly we all are, and we are volunteers who work around the clock to offer the best level of support possible to the Lyme community as well as endeavouring to protect and save as many lives as possible with our message and work. Thank you, Natasha, for inviting me to be a part of this amazing, strong team. I love every minute working with Lyme Disease UK. You have helped me re-discover myself and find purpose in life again. I am forever grateful.

Sophie Ward