It is nearly 13 years since Forward-ME was founded with a core group of nine ME charities and support groups. We now have more than 17 charities and associate members. The whole scenario has changed considerably since those early days. Despair has gradually turned to hope. There is more public understanding of ME and, with a few notable exceptions, the professions are exhibiting more appreciation of the complexities of the disease. The rewriting of the NICE Guideline for ME/CFS is eagerly anticipated despite the repeated deferrals of the publication date. Thanks to the work of the UK CFS/ME Research Collaborative, the grant of more than £3 million for a large genomic study of people with ME is under way.
From a personal point of view, I have been rewarded by the determination of all Forward-ME members to set aside their differences and to work together to achieve the objectives we agreed upon at our first meeting. We still have some way to go, but the foundations have been laid for our continued cooperation. I realise that what is needed for our future is a different approach to our relationships with people outside our small community. Instead of the ad hoc basis I have worked under, an efficient system of management would significantly enhance our impact. Good fortune has sent us just the right person in Andrew Morris who has all the skills and experience we need. Additionally, he has a daughter with ME and the determination to improve the world for people with ME. As you will see from the minutes of our meeting on 16 March 2021, he has given the matter much thought and has now said that he is willing to take over from me as Chairman. I will still be around for a while, as it is intended that the changeover should be smooth and it may take a while for Andrew to find his way around. We will work in tandem until I am no longer needed. He is at the front!
It only remains for me to thank everyone with whom I have been involved over 25 years of working with people with ME, particularly members of Forward-ME, for inspiring me, to wish you well and to remind you all that Unity is Strength!
8 April 2021
ME Research UK wishes to record its gratitude for all the work carried out by the Countess on behalf of the ME community. The sheer depth of her input can be gauged from the Appreciation written in May 2020 when she retired from the House of Lords.
The Countess’s Statement and all Minutes from Forward-ME can be found on their website.