Keynsham company's £50,000 pledge for charity crowns Megan's year as Miss Bristol

Published on: 02 Apr 2016

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April 2016

A Keynsham firm has pledged to raise £50,000 towards research into a rare blood disorder after hearing the story of outgoing Miss Bristol Megan Abernethy-Hope.

Building contractor Dribuild, based in Rock Road, has formed a partnership with the Bristol hospitals’ charity Above and Beyond to raise money to help develop treatments for the debilitating auto-immune illness Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP).

The firm is planning a range of events throughout the next 12 months, including a skydive, a five-day trek along Hadrian’s Wall, a day at Bath Racecourse and more.

A blood test in 2014 revealed Megan’s platelet count had plummeted, which can cause serious bleeding, bruising and severe tiredness.

Just 17 at the time, she was admitted to the Bristol Royal Infirmary where she was diagnosed with the little-known illness ITP, which affects an estimated three in 100,000 adults, and began treatment, including steroids and a course of chemotherapy.

It was a difficult period for Megan and her family and she was diagnosed with depression, but it was as she slowly began to feel better that she decided to compete for the Miss Bristol title for “a bit of fun” and to rebuild her confidence. Megan, now 19, won the crown for 2015/16 and during her time as Miss Bristol was introduced to Above and Beyond and decided to take the chance to raise awareness of ITP and help the drive for new treatments.

She said: “Since being diagnosed with ITP my life’s been a complete rollercoaster. In a matter of hours my world was turned upside down and it makes you realise it can happen to anyone, yet so many people aren’t aware of the devastating impact ITP can have.

“It’s vital that we drive awareness about this illness, which is why Dribuild’s fundraising efforts are so important. The new research would make all the difference and with the extra funding, Bristol’s hospitals can go above and beyond to develop new treatments.”

Money raised by Dribuild will go towards research at Bristol’s hospitals led by Dr Charlotte Bradbury, who Megan calls her “guardian angel” for the support she has given her. The work will benefit patients across the UK as the team develops new blood tests that can predict whether certain treatments will work to enable doctors to choose the best course of treatment for each patient.

Explaining more about the illness, Dr Bradbury said: “The treatment for patients with a new diagnosis of ITP has not changed for decades and is unsatisfactory as the medicines have lots of side effects and often don’t work. It can take several months before the best treatment is found and the illness is controlled. In the meantime, patients feel very ill, have bleeding problems, drug side effects, frequent hospital visits and usually can’t work or carry on with their normal lives.”

Matt Tyler, managing director at Dribuild, said: “We’re really excited to be working with Above & Beyond to support Bristol’s hospitals, raising money for a cause that we feel passionate about. As a company it’s important to us that we give something back locally – so it’s great to know that the research into ITP will make a real difference both here in Bristol and on a national level for many years to come.”

Lorna Clarke, head of corporate partnerships at Above & Beyond, added: “We are incredibly grateful to all the team at Dribuild for their commitment to making this research project a reality and helping to improve treatment for hundreds of patients affected by the debilitating condition ITP.”

Megan, who is currently recovering from an operation to remove her spleen, which medics hope will improve her condition, has come to the end of her year as Miss Bristol and will soon be joining Bristol Old Vic Theatre School to study for a degree in Professional Stage Management.

Anyone who would like to donate can do so at Megan’s fundraising page, https://www.justgiving.com/ITPMeg

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