A leading charity that provides support services for people living with Multiple Sclerosis in Northern Ireland is to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Action MS said that as a small, self-funding charity like many others it has found the last seven months "extremely challenging".
With almost all of its fundraising events having had to be cancelled, this has resulted in "a devastating loss of income".
Action MS said living in unprecedented times and with the Covid-19 pandemic likely to remain for the foreseeable future, it has been left with no other option but to take the very difficult decision to close.
Action MS Northern Ireland was formed in 1976 when a small group of people with MS, families and friends decided to do something to fight multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system for which there is as yet no cure.
Judith Preston, Chair of the Action MS committee said the 44 years have been an amazing journey.
“It has been a privilege to be a part of the lives of thousands of people and families living with MS across Northern Ireland.
“This was only possible due to the enduring hard work and commitment of our dedicated staff and volunteers and due to the amazing financial support we have received from individuals, schools and companies over the years.
“We are so grateful for the wonderful staff, fundraisers and members who have all worked so closely together over the years, and the family and caring ethos that Action MS has provided to the MS community in Northern Ireland."
The charity's founder, Ann Walker, added: “During our time, the core aim of Action MS has always been to improve the lives of those living with MS here in Northern Ireland.
"We have been able to achieve that through the generosity of so, so many individuals, groups and the school family through the Walk for MS in particular.
"On behalf of myself and the entire Action MS family, I would like to thank you so very much for your friendship, kindness and the support you have shown to all of us, which I can sincerely say has meant so much over the years.
"It has been a privilege to be a part of your lives and we will miss seeing you all.”
Action MS said its closure process is underway and will be completed in the coming weeks.
In the interim, a team will be available to answer any questions on 028 907 907 07 or firstname.lastname@example.org.