A couple who raised more than £4m for the Motor Neurone Disease Association have been recognised with a national honour.
Paula and Robert Maguire of Ryhill introduced the Ice Bucket Challenge social media craze to the UK, capturing the hearts of the nation.
Thousands joined them in throwing a bucket of freezing cold water over their heads to raise money and awareness for the charity.
Midwife Paula has been a fundraiser for the charity since 2009, when her uncle Stuart Hughes died from the disease. She and her family had already raised £12,000 through events including skydiving, marathons and a dip in the Irish Sea.
They set up a UK justgiving page and text donation number for the craze, after seeing it take America by storm in support of the country’s ALS Association. In just three weeks, £4m was donated online and a further £3m given directly to the charity.
Now Paula, 41, and Robert, 46, have been honoured with a British Citizen Award for their services to volunteering and charitable giving.
Robert said: “I knew that our daughter had nominated us but we did not tell my wife, so it was a complete shock to her when she found out we would be receiving an award.
“We do a lot of fundraising, and although we don’t seek recognition at all it is nice to be recognised and it’s a lovely gesture that our daughter has taken the time to nominate us, it’s a nice feeling.”
Their daughter Kelsey, 20, added: “My parents spent many hours on social media promoting the Ice Bucket Challenge. They were online from 6am until 2am almost every day. Their hard work on social media made sure that people knew that ALS and MND were the same disease. Without their efforts, funds from the UK challenge would have gone to other charities.
“They began fundraising the day after uncle Stuart died in August 2009, but the Ice Bucket Challenge has made the biggest impact. They received many messages from people with MND, telling them how much hope they had been given. Suddenly, everyone knew about Motor Neurone Disease. It gave great hope to many that, in time, a cure would be found.”
The couple were presented with a medal each at the Palace of Westminster last week.
The awards, supported by Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York recognise exceptional individuals who work “tirelessly and selflessly” to make a positive impact on society.
Paula was also presented with a Pride of Britain award last year.