The launch pad for The Muscle Help Foundation (MHF) was a project called pole2pole. Established by Michael McGrath and Miles Peckham (angel investor & expedition partner), an ambitious goal was set to journey to both the North and South Poles, two of the most extreme places on earth. The North Pole was reached in April 2002 and the South Pole in January 2004 – in so doing, Michael made history by becoming the first disabled person in the world to have successfully led expeditions to both Poles. What makes this achievement all the more remarkable is that in 1984, aged just 18, Michael was diagnosed with the muscle wasting disease Muscular Dystrophy (MD).
Today, Michael is a role model to many – his life’s mission is MHF’s work, underpinned by a desire to not only enrich the lives of others with muscular dystrophy but also elevate people’s knowledge and understanding of the condition. A long-standing advocate in helping to promote diversity and inclusion, Michael is a catalyst for change.
Named in the national Power 100 publication (2018, 2017, 2016) as one of Britain’s most influential disabled people, he was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts (2018) by the University of Hertfordshire, in recognition of his motivational & inspirational work for persons with a disability. Most recently, Michael was appointed to represent the Crown as a Deputy Lieutenant (DL) in Hertfordshire (a voluntary role).
A sought after motivational business speaker, Michael is invited by both private and public sector organisations to speak at conferences, events, away days and workshops – keynote topics include: resilience, leadership, change, risk, teamwork and diversity.
“Michael’s polar achievements are extraordinary triumphs of physical and mental endurance, and should serve as a reminder to us all that, in his own words, ‘our limits are often far beyond where we may assume them to be” (SOURCE: Alexandra Shackleton, one of Michael’s South Pole Expedition Patrons & the only granddaughter of Sir Ernest Shackleton).
Characterised by his energy, charisma & motivation, Michael can unleash potential, stimulating organisational success, educating, inspiring and moving audiences to a place of action. He closed Europe’s largest TEDx event in 2018 at the University of Warwick. His deeply moving and empowering talk entitled ‘The Power of the Polar Hug’ explores the power of possible – keen for the message of hope, human connectivity, kindness and compassion to reach as many people globally with muscular dystrophy, you can help spread the message by watching & sharing Michael’s TEDx talk which you’ll find on his LinkedIn profile.
The charity was first known as ‘pole2pole’ before being later renamed The Muscular Help Foundation and then finally The Muscle Help Foundation. Click here to learn more about our team and our current Trustee Board.
The charity delivers transformational experiences in the UK called Muscle Dreams for children and young people (8-28yrs) with the muscle wasting condition, Muscular Dystrophy (MD) and allied neuromuscular conditions.
MHF is a small, multi-award winning charity (rooted in family values) with national reach. It has a singular focus to deliver 657 Muscle Dreams, that’s one life-changing experience for every muscle in the human body. Anchored at the heart of the charity is a unique initiative designed to allow anyone to quickly grasp, support and champion our work – learn more about the #powerof657 and how you can get involved by either fundraising for us or perhaps you might like to join our tribe as a volunteer.
As of August 2019, the charity has delivered 297 Muscle Dream experiences – it’s impact is being felt across the UK by beneficiaries, families, their friends and the wider community including schools. In addition, MHF has over several years established friendships and partnerships with other muscular dystrophy charities across the UK such as Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK, the Eileen McCallum Trust, DMD Pathfinders, Duchenne Family Support Group (DFSG) and Muscular Dystrophy UK as well as relationships with many UK hospices including: Acorn’s Children’s Hospice, Hope House Hospice, Chestnut Tree House Hospice, The J’s Hospice, Keech Hospice, Naomi House & Jack’s Place Hospice, Shooting Star Chase Hospice and Ty Hafan Hospice to name but a few.
MHF is a member of Together for Short Lives, a leading UK charity for children with life-threatening & life-limiting conditions. The charity is also a member of the Fundraising Regulator, Stewardship (helping the Christian community in the UK to give and to receive), the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP), the UK Genetic Disorders Partnership Network via Genetic Disorders UK (national charity working to improve the lives of individuals and families living with a genetic disorder) and Genetic Alliance UK (consisting of over 200 patients organisations working to improve the lives of patients and families affected by all types of genetic conditions).