TIPPING buckets of icy water over your head has never been of use for anything more than perhaps getting a cold.

But the Ice Bucket Challenge has taken the world by storm and Oxfordshire charities are reaping the benefits.

The craze, which has dominated social media for weeks, started in the US to raise money for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

In the UK, this is known as motor neurone disease, a degenerative illness that affects the nerves carrying messages from the brain to nerves affecting mobility and speech.

It can advance very rapidly and life expectancy after diagnosis can be as short as between six months and three years.

Lesley Ogden, branch secretary for the Oxfordshire branch of the MND Association, said it was encouraging people to take part in the challenge, in which people donate money after being drenched with buckets of iced water.

They then nominate someone else to take part in the challenge, which has so raised £2m for the charity.

Mrs Ogden, 69, said: “It has really taken off around Oxfordshire, and among our volunteers. It has raised the profile of the disease and how serious and devastating it is.

“It’s the most fantastic opportunity to raise awareness.

“It’s the kind of illness that, once you have seen someone you love go through it, you just want to help other people in the same situation.”

Mrs Ogden has worked with the association since her brother, Paul Betterton, died from the disease in 1980, when he was aged 33, after being diagnosed at the age of 29.

Mrs Ogden, the branch secretary for 10 years, and branch chairman Lynda Wigley had icy water poured over them on Wednesday by Mrs Ogden’s husband John.

They are just two of hundreds of people, including Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth, to have been soaked for the cause very dear to Mrs Ogden’s heart.

Blewbury resident Mrs Ogden said: “We organised it in my back garden and we couldn’t help jump out of our seats when the water started to descend.

“Everyone seems to shriek – I think it’s the initial shock.”

Oxford Mail:

DOUBLE SOAKING: Lesley Ogden, left, and Lynda Wigley, of the Oxfordshire branch of the MND Association, get a drenching from Lesley’s husband John

And wading into the craze yesterday were Jon Peare and five colleagues at Skurrays Vauxhall dealership in Kidlington. The sales consultant and his workmates all wore pyjamas during for their drenching, which raised £102 for the charity.

Mr Peare 24, said: “It was wet. It was good fun though. I don’t know anyone who suffers from MND, but we thought it was a good thing to raise awareness for.”

Jenny Rolfe, and occupational therapist at the Oxford MND Centre at the John Radcliffe Hospital, said that the fundraising drive would help pay for research into the disease.

The 38-year-old, who was dowsed herself last week, said: “I think it’s amazing, and the fundraising is massively, massively important.

“And the awareness. Most people have never heard of it [MND], they don’t know what it is. This has been invaluable.”

  • Those doing the challenge can donate to the MND Association by texting ICED55 £5 (or another amount) to 70070 or call 01604 611860, referencing the Ice Bucket Challenge.
  • For more information about the condition, see mndoxfordshire.org or call Mrs Ogden on 01235 850372.

Oxford Mail:

Oxford Mail staff get into the spirit, too...

Group editor Simon O’Neill and assistant news editor Esther Beadle are showered by Mark Edwards and John Carter

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