Dave Roberts is the brains and inspiration behind the Facebook support group The Face of MS.
Dave has relapsing remitting MS, diagnosed in 2007 at 32, but he was first given a diagnosis of possible MS at 15 when a relapse landed him in hospital. Dave currently takes Teriflunomide (Aubagio) as treatment.
We met him yesterday for a chat about his nomination for an MS Society Award 2016 in their Digital Media category. For the last two years he has been managing a worldwide Facebook community page called ‘The Face of MS’.
“It all started on World MS Day 2014. I’d been following the Face of MS campaigns being set up around the world, by people like Montel Williams, the well-known American chat show host who was diagnosed with MS in 1999, and decided I would set up a UK Face of MS Facebook Event for World MS Day. The idea was that people joined the event and posted a photograph of themselves with a comment about what MS meant for them. Well, the reaction was astounding – within 20 minutes the event had gone worldwide, with our first overseas person joining from Canada. By the end of World MS Day we’d had over 3000 people join the event!
“Such an amazing reaction highlighted that there was a real desire and need for people with MS to connect with each other and share their experiences. The logical next step was to create a group and so The Face of MS group was born. The group is only for people with MS, giving them a forum to privately share experiences, encourage and support each other. One user says: ‘This page has been lifeline for me, particularly in the early days of my diagnosis. Whenever I was unsure about a symptom, I always asked on here and received quick, relevant feedback.’ It feels amazing to hear the difference our community is making to people. We now have a following of over 1500 people with MS worldwide which is growing fast, with members from UK, Europe, US, Mexico, Brazil, Africa, India, Pakistan, Russia, New Zealand & Australia. We have 4 administrators representing communities across the world.
“My wife Ann secretly nominated me for an MS Society award and it was a complete surprise to hear that I’d been listed as a finalist! It has been truly humbling to hear what a difference the group has made to members. I’m nervous and excited to be travelling to London on Thursday to the ceremony which is being held in Bishopsgate. We’ve arranged childcare for our 4 youngest children (we have 6 altogether!) and are planning to make a day of it. Whether I win or not it will a great experience to meet some amazing people, you never know I may even manage the odd selfie with a celeb!
“Since being diagnosed I have always been extremely driven to keep going. A diagnosis of MS really does make you realise that you need to get on and do what you can whenever you can. If I can have a game of rounders with the kids, yes I know I will be laid up and completely fatigued the following day – but that’s fine, because at least I can say ‘I did it!’.“
I t is certainly safe to say that Dave has not let his MS slow him down. After diagnosis he attended the UEA and achieved a BSc in Business Computing. He is a devoted husband and Dad to 6 active kids and as well as managing the Facebook page he also volunteers as an RAF Medic for the Watton 864 Air Cadets. This takes him all over the country to various events. His Face of MS page keeps him extremely busy and he has exciting plans to set up a hardship fund to assist group members experiencing difficult life circumstances, and hopes to arrange some members meet ups across the world.
We can’t wait to hear how Dave gets on in London. Watch this space and we will report back! Good luck Dave … and keep the selfies coming!