Optimism for the year ahead, despite the chill

What a start to the year – cold and freezing outside here in London, Guernsey airport frozen, so home seems far away, mixed messages on the economy, a winning draw in the Test match in Cape Town and lots of optimism for the year ahead at Changing Faces! We have had some superb donations over the Christmas period almost all of them completely out of the blue – which is so humbling…

It is also wonderful to see what can happen after a donation. One family in Scotland gave a donation in memory of their remarkable father who’d be badly burned years ago but had adjusted fantastically and become a local legend. Our Scottish Officer sent the family some leaflets to distribute in the community, and they gave some to the local high school, Strathaven Academy. A teacher saw the leaflet and invited him to speak to 5th year students (16 year olds) as part of a Personal, Health and Social Education day. He spoke to four groups of students (about 80 altogether) and reports that the talk, discussion and all our literature and resources were well received. The school would like us to return again next year. “A fine example of a donation leading to important links being made” as he rightly says.

The external highlight of my first week back after a great family-focused festive season full of Christmas cheer and goodwill to all, was to attend last night’s School of Pharmacy Lecture at the Royal Society, celebrating its 350th year, on the future of cancer drugs. It was a privilege to listen to a highly-informed and balanced view from Professor Stephen Neidle – drug therapies have come a long way over the last 50 years but, as he pointed out, research to find effective therapies for many of the common cancers still has far to go. He did not want to be critical of the media for their high-blown and over-optimistic headlines but I wondered why not; as in other fields of medical research, patients and families – and everyone else – needs honest and realistic expectations, not least because that would encourage healthier lifestyles in all probability. He agreed that science’s engagement with the media needed to go further…

It will be interesting to see how the media report our next Face Equality ‘project’ which launches next week – four posters featuring a great bunch of children with disfigurements will be displayed in every station on the London Underground from Monday – you can see them on our website… and I hope feel you want to get involved in the campaign: get more informed about disfigurement and its impact, approach your school or workplace to challenge it to join the campaign, lend your face to our collage in support… go to www.changingfaces.org.uk.

We want to get these posters up all over the country so if you know of any way to do so, please get in touch – and if you want to feature them in your magazine or newspaper, that would be great!

Must fly – to Guernsey with luck!

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