Filmmaker with Muscular Dystrophy wins award in Best Shorts Film Competition for inspiring ‘Muscle Warriors’ documentary

Talented filmmaker Stephanie Castelete-Tyrrell from Northamptonshire has won a prestigious Award of Recognition from The Best Shorts Film Competition for her inspirational and educational documentary titled ‘Muscle Warriors’ – the film aims to inform audiences on how having Muscular Dystrophy (MD) can affect an individual’s mental health.

‘Muscle Warriors’

Her film proves that MD is not a barrier preventing individuals from participating in sports, specifically powerchair football. The film shows how powerchair football supports the mental health of individuals living with MD, by helping to build confidence, friendships and give a sense of purpose and belonging. The ‘Muscle Warriors’ film also focuses on changing people’s perceptions on disability by showing the player’s talents and achievements.

The film features exceptional interviewees including Ryan O’Leary (Captain of the Muscle Warriors Powerchair Football Club), Rhys Mallet and Tom Kelly. Ryan discusses powerchair football, giving an insight into his own personal experiences including how the sport helps him maintain a positive wellbeing. Rhys and Tom both express how important the sport has been for developing their social networks.

‘Muscle Warriors’ has not yet been released. The Muscle Help Foundation is encouraging its community to follow Stephanie on Twitter for updates.

Stephanie herself has MD and as a lover of film, she has not let physical barriers stop her from pursuing a career she loves. Using a customised camera stand that attaches to her wheelchair, Stephanie has a unique filming style and successfully shows the reality of living with a muscle wasting condition through her point of view.

Stephanie Castelete-Tyrrell (pictured below), Writer, Director, Producer at Four Wheel Drive Productions said:

“I am extremely honoured to have received this award. Making ‘Muscle Warriors’ was important to me as I felt that Muscular Dystrophy is hugely underrepresented in film. By educating my audience about the effects of the disease and illustrating how MD sufferers overcome their physical obstacles, this will help to develop people’s understanding of disabilities and ultimately remove stigma.

Through my filmmaking, I have demonstrated that having Muscular Dystrophy is not a barrier, but an aspect of life that enables you to view and film the world differently and uniquely.”

 

Harry Allen, Lighting Technician & Runner said:

“It was a pleasure working with Steph on ‘Muscle Warriors’. Steph’s creative work shines a spotlight on to some brilliant subjects, that need to be shown more.”

 

Sue McGrath, Trustee, The Muscle Help Foundation said:

“We can’t wait to watch Stephanie’s ‘Muscle Warriors’ film – the business of challenging societal perceptions, of championing difference and spotlighting the beautiful game of powerchair football are subjects close to our hearts.

On a separate note, the charity has recently harnessed Stephanie’s talents and abilities by commissioning her to produce two scripts destined for our Patrons, Lorraine Kelly and Sir Kenneth Branagh. The brief was to write two uplifting messages filled with love and positivity, at what I know is an incredibly challenging time for our Muscle Warrior community across the country.

Whilst the government’s plan for easing lockdown is lifting the spirits of some in society, I know that for those with MD, classed as extremely vulnerable, a message of hope at this time directly from our Patrons will be warmly received.”

About the Best Shorts Competition

The Best Shorts Competition recognizes film, television, videography and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change.

Entries are judged by highly qualified professionals in the film and television industry. More information about Best Shorts and a list of recent winners can be found at www.BestShorts.net

In winning a Best Shorts Award, Stephanie Castelete-Tyrrell joins the ranks of other high-profile winners of this internationally respected award including Oscar winning production Mr. Hublot from Laurent Witz from Luxembourg, Disney Interactive for Vinlymation: A Love Story and The Weinstein Company for Market Hours.

Rick Prickett, Chair, The Best Shorts Competition had this to say about the latest winners:

“’Best Shorts’ is not an easy award to win. Entries are received from around the world from powerhouse companies to remarkable new talent. The Best Shorts Competition helps set the standard for craft and creativity. The judges were pleased with the exceptional high quality of entries. The goal of ‘Best Shorts’ is to help winners achieve the recognition they deserve.”

The ‘Muscle Warriors’ film has not yet been released.

Follow Stephanie on Twitter @StephCastelete for further updates.

Visit: Four Wheel Drive Productions 

Image Credits: Muscle Warriors PFC & Stephanie Castelete-Tyrrell

Contact:

Stephanie Castelete-Tyrrell
Director
MA Film and Television
BA (Hons) Creative Writing and Film Studies
E: stephanie@fourwheeldriveproductions.co.uk

Charity remains ‘resolute & determined’ to continue its vital work in a virtual way, says CEO Michael McGrath

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting many charities across the country in how they operate and specifically, service delivery plans have had to change for some in dramatic ways. Below a message from the charity’s CEO Michael McGrath giving some insights into its future plans.

charity remains resolute and determined

Pictured above: CEO, Michael McGrath

“Unsurprisingly, we’re going virtual. As a direct result of COVID-19, we took the really difficult decision back in March to immediately cease all of our planned 2020 Muscle Dream operations. That was a tough day! It was also the start of a whole new journey – as of today (7th May), I have been in self-isolation for 57 days. We remain resolute and determined to continue our vital work. As a small charity, we are agile – we are re-purposing with one simple goal to support our beneficiaries and families virtually.

I have spoken to many of them over the last 4-5wks and I know that because of COVID-19, they’re feeling even more vulnerable, even more isolated, anxious, distressed and in some cases terrified with the unfolding situation. That’s why we must act. That’s why we must unite. That’s why we must engage.

Firstly, we’re planning on reducing our Muscle Dream wait-list – we’re scoping out how this will work, how we will bring the experiential magic directly into people’s homes; it’s a very different way of doing things but I know that the solution will bring enormous joy and hope to some incredibly courageous and deserving young people for whom time is ticking. In doing so, we will be moving a little closer to our goal of realising 657 Muscle Dream experiences, one for every muscle in the human body.

We are also looking at how best we can leverage our social channels in communicating with our stakeholders, in helping to keep them informed and connected. We plan to establish a virtual ‘social’ events programme designed for our Muscle Warrior community.

Phase one of this new virtual strategy will be deployed before the end of May 2020. In addition to our virtual ‘social events’ programme, we are also launching an ‘In Conversation With’ online broadcast project – different guests and personalities are being invited to share their experiences and insights on a variety of topics – from isolation tips by a nuclear submarine commander, laughter yoga by a certified happiness facilitator to alleviating stress and anxiety in addition to conversations about resilience as a family, mini goal setting and psychology tips for our powerchair football community. The intention is to help our families feel less isolated, less alone and more engaged.

We’re also reaching out to our fantastic Muscle Warrior volunteers around the country and asking them to create short video messages that uplift, that burst with positivity, messages that not only inspire but also amplify our STRONGER TOGETHER ethos, more important now than ever before.

In bringing our community together during these difficult times, we’re keen to play our part in bringing a little joy, some laughter and above all some hope into the lives of those for whom the Muscle Help Foundation charity exists to serve. If you are interested in supporting our COVID-19 response efforts in any way or wish to volunteer or make a donation, do please reach out – thank you!”

Michael McGrath
CEO, The Muscle Help Foundation

And finally, below a few hints and tips from Michael to help you during these testing times:

  • Set mini daily goals, no matter how ridiculous (poach eggs brilliantly)!
  • Routine, routine, routine – make it your best friend
  • Be sure there’s lots of laughter in your household 🙂
  • Mindful colouring really does soothe anxiety
  •  Pop in some earbuds for an engaging or chilling podcast
  • Michael’s daily grateful diary now has 57 pages of gratefulness!
  • Deep breathing exercises really do help give balance
  • Humans are social beings – phone a friend or two or three
  • Washing up is still very therapeutic – ask Michael!

#StayPositive people

The Muscle Help Foundation
Reg Charity No. 1096716

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Muscle Help Foundation charity statement

“The health and safety of our Muscle Warrior community is our number one priority. The Muscle Help Foundation charity has a duty of care to ensure the well-being and safety of our beneficiaries, families, volunteers and indeed anyone that we come into contact with – this is very much at the forefront of our minds; we recognise that the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is extremely unsettling” (SOURCE: Michael McGrath, Founder & CEO, The Muscle Help Foundation)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Muscle Help Foundation charity statement

Based on current guidelines (as of 16th March 2020) and having taken counsel with the Muscle Help Foundation Trustee Board, the charity took the decision to postpone it’s 2020 signature Muscle Dream programmes ie. 8-9 June 2020 (Porsche) + 22-23 June 2020 (Flying).

In addition, we are postponing any further unique (singular) face-to-face Muscle Dream interventions until further notice. Given this fast-moving situation where updates are being made on almost a daily basis, the charity will review this position on a regular basis and will share any updates via this Latest News feed and/or via our social channels.

The charity will continue to dedicate itself to the guiding principle of protecting your wellbeing, something we take extremely seriously – we understand that every time we deliver a Muscle Dream experience, you and your loved ones put your trust in us to make the right decisions.

Over the past week, the Muscle Help Foundation has closely observed and read the increasing number of statements and information guidance notes made by several other charities and national support groups in the neuromuscular space, in addition to the Charity Commission’s recommendation to ‘check the most up to date advice from Public Health England’ – we know from direct conversations that many of our Muscle Warrior families across the UK have changed their behaviours, are taking precautionary measures and in most instances, are self-isolating.

To avoid catching or spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19), the NHS advice is clear:

DO wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 secs

DO wash your hands when you get home or into work

DO use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

DO cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

DO put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

DO try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

DON’T touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

 

More than 95% of the charity’s beneficiaries are those with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Click HERE to read the very informative statement from the DMD Pathfinders charity (supported by Duchenne UK) regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) including their extra precautionary suggestions for those with DMD.

The charity is continuing to closely monitor the official guidance and advice communicated via Public Health England, the UK Government and the World Health Organisation. For more information, visit:

Go to NHS.UK/coronavirus for information about the virus and how to protect yourself

Go to the official UK site, with information provided from the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England

Go to NHS Overview for information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

On a more positive note, the charity is actively looking at how best it can support beneficiaries and families across the UK at this time in making sure they feel connected and part of our Muscle Warrior tribe – you can help inform this process by simply reaching out to our CEO Michael McGrath HERE and sharing any ideas that you may have – the more creative, the better!

Underpinned by our STRONGER TOGETHER spirit, please look out for one another and if the charity can help in any way, please GET IN TOUCH and let us know how and we will do our best – we are thinking of you all and sending a BIG Muscle Warrior salute filled with hope, courage, strength and unity!

Lussmanns raises record-breaking sum of £7,688.00 at 3rd Annual Dream Team Charity Dinner in St Albans

Tuesday 3rd March 2020 saw the fundraising finale carried out by the Lussmanns Sustainable Fish & Grill business for their nominated Charity of the Year, the Muscle Help Foundation. The charity delivers transformational experiences called Muscle Dreams across the UK for children and young people with muscular dystrophy. The big cheque of £7,688.00 was presented by Andrei Lussmann (pictured below) on the night to Michael McGrath, the charity’s CEO and Sue McGrath.

Over the course of the year, various fundraising activities took place – in November 2019, Andrei Lussmann provided a meatball recipe in support of the charity’s unique Meatball for Muscle Dreams campaign. A variety of top chefs including Angela Hartnett, Tom Kerridge and Ken Hom also got behind the initiative by donating their own meatball recipes.

In February 2020, staff members across the Lussmann’s group donned Muscle Warrior t-shirts and STRONGER TOGETHER wristbands to showcase the charity to their customers. £1 was donated to the charity from every dedicated meatball dish sold.

On Tuesday 3rd March, the 3rd Annual Lussmanns Dream Team Dinner took place. A host of top locally celebrated chefs came together, creating a collaborative menu for an exciting gourmet evening held at Lussmanns St Albans.

“Every year, we are passionate about working with a local charity. In the past these have included Herts Young Homeless and Youth Talk St Albans. This year Lussmanns are delighted to be working with The Muscle Help Foundation for the 2019/2020 period”, said Andrei Lussmann.

As part of Lussmann’s commitment to sustainability, the business takes pleasure in supporting its employees, suppliers, partners, and the local community. Every year Andrei and the team assist with a wide range of charities and local community events – since 2017, over £23,000 has been donated to local charities.

“Something rather special happened at this year’s Lussmanns Dream Team Dinner! It wasn’t just about customers flexing their fundraising muscles, the fabulous food, the great company or the welcoming hospitality and warmth of our wonderful hosts in St Albans but about the shared spirit rooted in kindness, in recognising the charity’s work and impact.

It was a memorable evening, not least because my family were all present, but I was very grateful to the Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Voss CBE and his wife for so generously giving of their precious time and support on the night.

I’m hugely grateful that £7,688.00 was raised! It was an awesome total and much needed! It will help reduce our waitlist; it will change lives and it will give hope via our transformational Muscle Dream activities for children and young people with muscular dystrophy.

Huge thanks from the bottom of my heart to everyone involved, including Andrei, all of the amazing suppliers who gifted their time and food, and of course to the many staff who looked after everyone so well in making sure the event was a resounding success – as we say, thats the #powerof657!” added Michael McGrath, Founder, CEO of the charity.

This was the third annual Dream Team Dinner which raises funds for the Lussmanns Charity of the Year in which Andrei invites top chefs and influential restauranteurs to cook for charity. 2020’s chefs included Drew Knight of The Kings Arms, Sean Clarke from St Michael’s Manor, Johnny Shepherd from The Pudding Stop joined by Nick McGowen of Lussmanns.

Lussmanns Sustainable Fish & Grill are a collection of six successfully local-driven restaurants with a focus on making ethical and sustainable dining accessible to all without the pomp and preach. Lussmanns, Oxford has recently launched.

More info about Lussmanns community commitment can be found here.

Top Celebrity Chefs Back exciting new ‘Meatball Month’ campaign in support of Muscle Dreams

Top celebrity chefs – including Tom Kerridge, Angela Hartnett, Tom Parker-Bowles, Ken Hom and Chef to the Royal Family, Mark Flanagan – are backing a month-long ‘Meatballs Month’ national campaign which aims to raise money to fund ‘Muscle Dreams’ – transformational experiences for young children with the muscle wasting disease muscular dystrophy.

Meatballs Month is the brainchild of the Muscle Help Foundation (MHF) charity; the campaign aims to ignite the nation’s appetite for meatballs but at the same time encourage the flexing of fundraising muscles by throwing a meatball meal or party during the month of November.

Members of the public can download a kit from www.meatballmonth.com which provides invites, name cards and a fundraising guide to help organise a meatball party or dinner for friends and family whilst raising money for a Muscle Dream experience. Since it costs just £1,600 to fulfil each experience it is hoped that the initiative will result in the delivery of many more magical moments for children and young people with muscular dystrophy.

The standalone website features a host of delicious meatball recipes put together specifically for the campaign by some of the world’s finest chefs which in addition to those listed above also currently include Matthew Williamson (Rudding Park), Ben Tish (The Stafford Hotel & Norma), Hayden Groves (Executive Chef, Baxter Storey), Cyrus Todiwala (Café Spice Namaste), Andrei Lussmann (Lussmanns Fish & Grill Restaurant Group) and Head Chef Francesco Migliorin of Ristorante Frescobaldi.

Meatball party hosts can either choose a celebrity recipe for their party or conjure up their own culinary meatball masterpiece! Guests are urged to make donations – collected either by the party host and submitted or by individuals who can donate online.

In addition to raising valuable funds, Meatball Month is also designed to raise awareness of muscular dystrophy, a disease which currently has no cure. The average lifespan of someone with the most severe form of muscular dystrophy (called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or DMD) is circa mid to late twenties, making the need to realise a child’s Muscle Dream all the more compelling – providing a life-changing experience for the beneficiary and a lasting memory for all the family to reflect upon during darker times. All participants are encouraged to share their meatball creations via social media, using the hashtag #meatballmonth.

A number of butchers and restaurants are also putting their weight behind the campaign, selling meatball packs and adding meatball dishes to their menus, and then donating a % of their takings to the charity.

Every child’s dream experience is personalised and MHF reports a number of benefits including improved confidence, greater self-esteem, increased sense of hopefulness and a powerful shared identity connecting the recipient with other families living with muscular dystrophy.

Key supporters of the charity’s Muscle Dream initiative include the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone. 2020 will see the company host its 10th annual Muscle Dream Driving programme in support of the charity. Next year 10 young people and their families will enjoy an incredible two days at the centre, when the lucky petrol-head recipients from the across the UK will have the opportunity to ‘light-it-up’ on Porsche’s own dedicated track!

Many organisations have given their time and services for free, these include Airbus, Marriott International, Hilton, Tesla and global events agency, BCD Meetings & Events to name a few. Celebrities who have lent their support include Lewis Hamilton, Al Pacino and Ray Mears.

Via this campaign, The Muscle Help Foundation is aiming to help realise many more Muscle Dream experiences. To date, the charity has delivered 297, leaving a further 360 to go before it reaches its goal of 657, that’s one for every muscle in the human body. As the charity says, that’s the #powerof657.

For more information, please contact:

Claire Dolan / Vhari Russell
The Food Marketing Experts
T: 01480 276555
E: vhari@thefoodmarketingexperts.co.uk
E: claire@thefoodmarketingexperts.co.uk

Charity is heartbroken having not only lost its Club’s leader, its point-man, but also a very dear friend – RIP Barry O’Leary

On behalf of The Muscle Help Foundation charity, our deepest condolences to Karen, Ryan and Liam on Barry’s recent passing. Please know that you are all very much in our thoughts and prayers at this time of great loss. The charity is here to support you in any way we can.

Pictured above: Barry & Karen O’Leary receiving The Muscle Help Foundation’s inaugural ‘Room to Reward’ Award for their selfless volunteering over many years in supporting the charity’s Muscle Warriors Powerchair Football Club, presented to them by CEO Michael McGrath on Sunday 1st September 2019.

“Know that you’re never alone when you’re in the thoughts of those who care. As the Manager for our charity’s Muscle Warriors Powerchair Football Club, Barry led from the front, selflessly supporting players in enabling them to be the best they can be at any given time. He inspired others. He was a great listener. He created a positive environment and above all, he instilled confidence and belief in our players.

We are heartbroken having not only lost our Club’s leader, our point-man but also a very dear friend.

Words are never adequate in moments like these but rest assured, Barry’s wonderful spirit will live on, it will endure, not least across the powerchair football community, a family within a family. RIP Barry.”

Michael McGrath

CEO, The Muscle Help Foundation

Pictured above: Barry, a true gentleman and one of life’s good guys! Rest in peace dear friend.

9yrs and counting! MHF’s signature Porsche Muscle Dream Programme sees eight young petrol-heads burn rubber at Silverstone!

Now in its 9th year, the charity’s 2019 signature Porsche Muscle Dreams Programme saw another eight petrol-heads from across the UK with different types of muscular dystrophy relish another awesome experiential event at Silverstone, one of the most the iconic Grands Prix circuits in the world and the home of British Motorsport.

Feedback from those who have watched this year’s ‘LIGHT-IT-UP’ film below suggests it’s the best one ever! We totally agree! It’s a pretty special shared experience, so be sure you watch it below and ‘when’ (not ‘if’) you’re inspired, contact us and let’s have conversation to explore how you might like to get involved in supporting our #powerof657 mission going forwards. Or maybe you would like to witness the impact in 2020! It’s the BIG one… the 10th anniversary in partnership with the Porsche Experience Centre and Whittlebury Park.

“A massive Muscle Warrior thank you to you and all your team especially Milda. You are all very special people!!! Two weeks on from this awesome experience, I’d like to tell you that Lewis has found the confidence to go on his first school trip. This is a massive step forward for him and me. And it’s all down to you and that amazing Muscle Dream experience! Thank you for helping our family. Do not change – your charity is fabulous! Sending love and best wishes” – Lewis, Claire, Guy & Uncle John

“Just to say a massive thank you for the past 2 days – you have created some wonderful memories for us to cherish forever. It was a pleasure to meet your lovely team. What a fantastic bunch of people! Fantastic goody bags – you are all so special and we feel very privileged to know you. Much love” – Sam, Simon, Samuel, Rosie and Ollie

“Thank you so much for a wonderful day on Monday. I am thrilled that we could find the energy and determination to make it – you have clearly spent years perfecting the Porsche Muscle Dream programme which was mazing – it was so kind of you to include siblings in the experience. Jamie was almost speechless with excitement. Mel is beyond impressive as a supporter of the charity and the gifts that Matthew received were astonishingly generous and thoughtful. You really did make us all feel very special and I saw a glimpse here and there of the Matthew that I’d like to get back fully one day. Please find enclosed a donation of £65.70 from each of us and the cancelled check for travel expenses. We hope it contributes to another Muscle Dream” – The Newnham family

We hope that ‘LIGHT-IT-UP 9’ inspires you to take action, join our Muscle Warrior tribe and get involved in supporting our charity –

Whether raising much-needed funds by organising your own fundraiser, volunteering some of your precious time, adopting us as your nominated Charity of the Year or maybe you would like to meet our CEO in exploring the impact of having a corporate partnership that benefits all parties, either way, get in touch and let’s have a conversation.

And in what was our 9th year (yes, that’s 9 years!) delivering this once-in-a-lifetime signature event, muscletastic love and gratitude to all of our terrific volunteers (you know who you are!) and of course to our key partners listed below – we simply couldn’t execute this experience without your outstanding support. Thank you one and all!

  • Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone
  • Whittlebury Hall Hotel & Spa near Towcester
  • CineCloud (for their superb aerial cinematography)
  • Chris Holt for bringing his energy and passion to this year’s film
  • Steve Carter & Steve Barron on photography

And of course, those fabulous chaps at BCD Meetings & Events‏ for rocking up with all that camera gear, filming, editing and then producing another magnificent video!

Watch more of our life-changing Muscle Dream films on our YouTube channel HERE and see what we mean when we talk about impact. Be sure you subscribe today!

View the official photo album on our dedicated Flickr Channel HERE with over 150 incredible pics, courtesy of the brilliantly talented Gary Perlmutter or Gary Perlmutter Photography – big thanks Gary! Happy viewing!

As a small charity with very limited resources, we need help so we can deliver many more Muscle Dream experiences – if you or your business would like to start a conversation about exploring the value of a strategic partnership with our CEO Michael McGrath or perhaps you would like to volunteer or fundraise for our cause, why not contact us today.

Chocks away as Muscle Warriors Toby, Sammy, Wilson & Ryan reach for the skies in earning their gold wings!

The Muscle Help Foundation’s annual Flying Muscle Dream experience (17th to 18th July 2019) was another tremendous success thanks to the outstanding support of its partners and volunteers – in our 6th year of delivering this programme, four beneficiaries (Toby 15yrs, Sammy 20yrs, Wilson 18yrs & Ryan 20yrs) and their families from across the UK reached for the skies and in so doing, had an unforgettable time in not just broadening their horizons but also earning their Muscle Warrior flying gold wings!

Click HERE to see over 200 wonderful photos on our dedicated online Flickr Photo Channel, snapped by the extraordinarily talented Gary Perlmutter of Gary Perlmutter Photography, one of the charity’s official go-to photographers and whom we are blessed to have in our world – happy viewing!

“We all had a wonderful time especially Toby. It was rather emotional for Andrew and I having both been in a Piper Warrior before. Never did I dream that one day I’d be flown by my son! A heart felt thank you to you and all your wonderful volunteers for enabling us to make such special memories”

Kate, mum of Toby

“We got home about 11 pm and went straight to bed! We had the most wonderful few days with you all – the boys loved their goody bags and particularly the silicon straws! Thank you again for a very inspirational few days”

Emma, mum of Sammy & Wilson

“Thank you once again for an amazing experience; I couldn’t stop smiling yesterday! Ryan absolutely loved it. He intends to do it again. You have some amazing volunteers!”

Jayne, mum of Ryan

Aircraft hangars of gratefulness to all of our volunteers who were absolutely fantastic – to Colette Cooper who managed the programme across the two days, Gary Perlmutter (one of MHF’s official photographers), Jason Smith & Sam Eustace (CineCloud), Nadisha Jayatissa (FF15), Julie Twigg & Victoria Bye (BCDME) and the Chair of our charity’s Trustee Board Fay Sharpe and her son Jaime, all of whom brought their Muscle Warrior energy to yet another memorable Muscle Dream programme experience! Thank you one and all!

This year’s Flying programme had a number of goals:

To create a powerful shared experience that transforms
For beneficiaries to experience something different, something new
To place our young people at the centre of the experience
Make sure that our volunteer family hosts were enriched by the experience
For our key partners to see the direct impact of their causal support
For new relationships and friendships to be established
For our charity’s Muscle Warrior spirit to be felt by all stakeholders

“The strategy has always been about giving young people a powerful sense of achievement and giving them a voice. I’ve watched over the years how experiences like for example flying can be so transformational in not just boosting confidence and uplifting self-esteem but also, I’ve witnessed the pure joy in how a moment in time can bring a family together.

Irrespective as to whether you have a disability or not, I think you’ll agree that taking the controls in level flight is something very special. This year’s programme was no exception! It’s such a privilege to play a small part in hearing what it’s like when such moments unfold – that’s the #powerof657”

Michael McGrath
CEO, The Muscle Help Foundation

About AeroBility

AeroBility is a user led British charity run largely by disabled aviators with experienced instructors trained to work with disabled individuals using adapted aircraft, making flying accessible for all. For more information about AeroBility, head to: www.aerobility.com

The Muscle Help Foundation is already looking forward to 2020’s Flying Muscle Dream programme – once dates are confirmed, the nomination process will open, most likely in the New Year, so be sure you watch this space!

If you would like to start a conversation about exploring the value of a strategic partnership with our charity or perhaps you would like to volunteer or fundraise for our cause, why not contact us today.

Covert electric Muscle Dream surprises 8yr-old DMD boy courtesy of Tesla

‘Mum’s the word’! Last Sat 20th July 2019, something wonderful happened, a surprise that a mother had kept ‘quiet’ from her beautiful 8yr-old son (no mean feat!) for nearly four weeks, a magical Muscle Dream that literally ‘unfolded’ in front of her son’s eyes or should we say the Falcon Wing doors of a terrific ‘blue’ Model X 6-seater P100D Tesla car!

Pictured above: 8yr-old Muscle Dream beneficiary Mitchell, now a fully-fledged Muscle Warrior

An experience that will live long in the memories of those who directly supported and indirectly witnessed what was a ‘unique reveal’ on the gravel driveway outside the front door of a stunning 5* hotel in the heart of the Cotswolds. The culmination of nearly a month of meticulous planning resulted in not just an exquisite lunch in a private setting overlooking rolling hills, the celebratory ‘blue’ balloons and the individually hand tied lavender stems precisely laid on ‘blue’ napkins or the VIP behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchens but… a cherished memory rooted in a powerful shared experience.

Imagine how you would feel if having enjoyed that lunch with your family and having spent some time familiarizing yourself with said ‘blue’ car unlike anything else on the road, distinctive, whisper-quiet and quick, a seriously cool set of wheels and a sci-fi panoramic windscreen to doors that ‘uplift’ for you, a car that gives its occupants things that other cars just don’t have… and you were 8yrs-old, and your favourite colour was ‘blue’ and you were obsessed with all things Tesla… and at the end of that amazing day, the keys of the car were handed over to your mum (the nominated driver!)… and guess what, it’s yours for the weekend! A priceless reaction, an intake of breath, the expected ‘really, you’re kidding’ observations, a massive grin, high-fives all round… you get the picture!

Pictured above: Mitchell seated in car and his younger brother, 5yr-old Freddie, saluting!

It’s true what they say that some memories are more than just heart-warming; they’re totally unforgettable, and this was no exception! The idea that a personalised experience, if well executed, can be ‘transformational’ lies at the heart of everything we strive to achieve; as a small charity rooted in family values, we need support so we can reduce the growing wait-list of nominations and do more.

And sometimes saying thank you to those who have helped feels inadequate – suffice to say that the charity’s Muscle Warrior tribal spirit is thriving! The attributes of kindness, generosity and goodwill shown by those who supported this unique Muscle Dream, have enabled a young boy and his family to come together and share a moment in time filled with joy.

What makes it all the more humbling is when that mum whose son is living with a progressive, life-limiting condition called Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) sends several messages back to the charity simply saying that her son had “the best weekend ever”, and “you really have given my little family the boost we desperately needed” and “I will forever be grateful”, our mission is complete and the gift that gives on giving, our community of supporters… await the next challenge!

Remember, mum’s the word : )

Mitchell’s mum Keira said in a number of messages:

WHATSAPP MESSAGE 1:

In Mitchell’s own words, his dream has come true. And that having this experience, has meant so much to him! He said this weekend has been the best ever! He also said, that all of you at the charity, and Tesla are so kind, for letting him, keep the car for the weekend! Thank you again, for making it possible, to make his dream come true. You are all completely awesome!! xx

WHATSAPP MESSAGE 2:

Thank you so much for Mitchell’s goodie bag; it is full of amazing stuff! He is in love with the Tesla hoodie! He said he wished we could keep it (the car) forever! xx

WHATSAPP MESSAGE 3:

Hi Michael, we have just got home now. Thank you so much to all of you, for making my son’s dream come true! We have all had such a special time! What you do as a charity, and as a family, is totally amazing! I will forever be grateful. A big Muscle Warrior salute, from all of us! xx

INSTAGRAM MESSAGE posted on the charity’s @musclewarrior657 page:

I can’t put into words how grateful I am. You really have given my little family the boost we desperately needed. Also, you have given us such special memories that we will cherish forever! xx

EMAIL sent to the charity, nine days after her son’s Muscle Dream experience:

“We are still feeling amazing, after Mitchell’s Muscle Dream! Like I said before, it really gave us a massive boost, of positivity, hope, and inspiration. We loved getting to know you all. Your charity is absolutely amazing! Thank you again, to everyone involved… we couldn’t of asked for a better weekend. Everything was more than perfect!” xx

With nearly 1 million views, the charity’s dedicated online Flickr Channel is a visual testimony of our charity’s work and impact – click HERE to see and share Mitchell’s official Tesla Muscle Dream photo album… as we say, that’s the #powerof657

The Muscle Help Foundation
Registered Charity NO. 1096716

 

Lussmanns Fish & Grill Restaurant Group adopts Muscle Help Foundation as official 2019/20 charity partner

The locals’ favourite sustainable eatery, Lussmanns Fish & Grill Restaurant has recently announced its adoption of the Muscle Help Foundation as the groups official 2019/20 charity partner.

Lussmanns Fish & Grill Founder & Director Andrei Lussmann said:

“I am absolutely delighted to announce our new charity partner Muscle Help Foundation (MHF), founded by Michael McGrath. A local charity rooted in family values, MHF delivers transformational experiences in the UK called Muscle Dreams for children and young people (8-28yrs) with Muscular Dystrophy (MD) and allied neuromuscular conditions. MHF gives its beneficiaries and their families hope, inspiration and empowerment.

Throughout the year there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved with our fundraising activities for this worthwhile charity, including our annual ‘Dream Team Dinner’ and MHF’s innovative ‘Meatballs for Muscle Dreams’ campaign – watch this space!’

MHF’s Founder & CEO Michael McGrath said:

“I am thrilled that the Muscle Help Foundation (MHF) has been adopted by Lussmanns as their official 2019/20 Charity Partner. It’s no secret I’m a long-standing fan of Lussmanns! With their five restaurants ‘doing Hertfordshire proud’ (The Good Food Guide), the charity is very much looking forward to working closely with Andrei and his team on a number of fundraising events, not least their annual ‘Dream Team Dinner’ which we plan to support in any way we can!

Having a local partnership with a business featured in the Sunday Times Magazine’s Best 100 Restaurants 2018 gives the charity an exciting opportunity to not only attract new ‘Muscle Warrior’ supporters from across the county but also raise much-needed awareness and vital funds so we can move closer to our goal of delivering 657 Muscle Dreams for children and young people with Muscular Dystrophy – that’s one life-changing experience for every muscle in the human body!

MHF is in the process of developing an innovative fundraising campaign called ‘Meatballs for Muscle Dreams’ – now whilst I couldn’t possibly reveal the ingredients that constitute my wife’s amazing meatballs recipe, I’ve no doubt that Andrei’s take on this dish will galvanise customers into consumption (not least of all me!) from Hertford, St Albans and Harpenden to Hitchin and my old home town of Tring… as we say in the charity, that’s the #powerof657!”

About Lussmanns Sustainable Fish & Grill

As published in the Times Newspaper, Lussmanns made it into Marina O’Loughlin and Giles Coren’s list of the 100 best places to eat in the UK.

The locals’ favourite sustainable eatery offers a relaxed dining experience for all the family in their stylish restaurants located in Hertford, St Albans, Harpenden, Hitchin and Tring.

Customers can choose from a range of beautifully balanced seasonal menus, including their extremely popular, value-driven set menu (2 courses £14.95, 3 courses £17.95, available 12-7pm daily) that includes both delicious vegetarian and gluten-free options.

In the words of British food writer, TV presenter and restaurant critic Giles Coren, Lussmanns is “everything a modern local restaurant should be”.

 

www.lussmanns.com

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