FOR many people like Lance Harris who live with multiple sclerosis, The Osborne Centre, run by the Bournemouth & District branch of the MS Society, is a lifeline. Lance, 65, from Bournemouth, who was diagnosed at the age of 26, visits the centre three days a week. His wife, who is also his carer, works in the shop.

“The centre is a big part of our life,” he says. “There is plenty going on. We have our own physiotherapy department which is important because it helps to keep you as mobile as you can be.”

Fortunately for Lance, transport isn’t usually a problem, but many members have to rely on one of the centre’s minibuses.

Lance is a member of Park-stone Rotary, one of several local clubs in the area, who helped to raise £32,000 for a new minibus for the centre.

Chairman of MS Society Bournemouth District branch, John Astley, said they were delighted to have raised so much money in just under a year.

“We have around half a dozen minibuses and three of them are getting very old so our aim last summer was to raise funds to purchase a new one.”

The minibus was supplied by local firm Red Kite and accomm-odates up to eight people or four people with wheelchairs.

John explains: “It is important that the vehicle is adaptable because MS affects people in different ways. For some people who live on their own or in a care home, it may be the only time they get to see anyone other than their carer.”

Businessman John started working at the centre as a volunteer driver before he became chairman two years ago.

“We are always in need of volunteer drivers. We would love to hear from anyone who can spare even a few hours a week.”

The centre costs around £170,000 a year to run and is self-funded. It has been running for 28 years and is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays. For more information, visit website or call 01202 570300.

100,000 people in UK with condition

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition which affects around 100,000 people in the UK.

Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20-40, but it can affect younger and older people too.

Roughly three times as many women have MS as men. MS is complex, and has many symptoms. Most people won’t experience them all, certainly not at the same time. Symptoms can include fatigue, vision problems and difficulties with walking, but MS is different for everyone.