Ice bucket challenge started in West Yorkshire

Robert and Paula Maguire of Ryhill take up the ice bucket challenge.
Robert and Paula Maguire of Ryhill take up the ice bucket challenge.
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FROM Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield to Mel B and Matthew Lewis, Leeds celebrities have been queuing up to take on the ice bucket challenge.

But, the Yorkshire Evening Post can reveal, the people responsible for bringing the craze to this country are a local family of unsung Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) fundraising heroes.

Paula Maguire, 40, has been raising money for the association with husband Robert and daughters Kelsey and Megan since her uncle, Stuart Hughes, died of motor neurone disease aged 50 in 2009.

Earlier this month, 45-year-old Robert saw an item on the TV news about the popularity of the ice bucket challenge in the USA.

Participants raise money for research into motor neurone disease – or ALS as it is known in the States – by having freezing cold water poured over them before nominating other people for the challenge.

Robert liked the idea and so took what is thought to have been the UK’s first ice bucket challenge in the garden of his home in Ryhill, near Wakefield, on August 10.

He put footage of the stunt on YouTube and asked friends and family on Facebook and Twitter to get involved, with the aim of raising £500.

One week later the amount donated via the Maguires’ JustGiving page and dedicated text number stood at a respectable £470.

Then, however, the idea went viral on social media and, seven days further down the line, tens of thousands of pounds had been raised as more and more famous faces and members of the public tackled the challenge.

Now, at the end of a week in which ice bucket fever has continued to sweep the nation, the total on the family’s JustGiving page has reached a remarkable £3m.

Robert, a self-employed mail order boss, said: “We simply can’t believe the way it has taken off, it has been phenomenal.

“There have been combined donations of around £100,000 on some evenings and we have been in tears watching the amount go up and up and up.

“All we did, though, was set the ball rolling. Huge credit has to go to family, friends and everyone else who has accepted the challenge.”

Paula, a midwife at Barnsley Hospital, said: “Everything we have done for the MNDA has always been in memory of my uncle, so it’s been really emotional to see what’s happened with this.”

MNDA fundraising director Douglas Graham hailed the Maguires as “just incredible”.

l To get behind the ice bucket challenge, visit the web page or text ICED55 £5 to 70070.

People taking the challenge are encouraged to make a small donation to the MNDA – or pay the charity a larger ‘fine’ if they want to sidestep it.

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