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Improving lives, inspiring change: AGM & annual report

November 30, 2018

"The most important feature of Forward M.E. is that we work together for the common good; never was the principle of 'divide and rule' more prevalent than in the word of M.E." said Margaret, Countess of Mar, speaking at our 2018 Annual General Meeting and conference this week, where she urged delegates to: “Just remember: united we stand, divided we fall.”

It was a sentiment echoed throughout the day, which saw people with M.E., their carers and a number of health and research professionals hear about the progress we are making with our 2016-2021 strategy to end the ignorance, injustice and neglect experienced by people with M.E.

Prof Neil Harrison gave an overview on his research on the effect of inflammation on the brain in M.E., and introduced his PhD student, Marisa Amato, funded by Action for M.E. Marisa will use state-of-the-art HCP (Human Connectome Project) imaging technology as part of this study, and we will be working with her to share updates on this exciting work in the coming months.

We also heard from Alice Kelk, who was diagnosed with M.E. when she was 14 years old. Nearly a decade on, Alice has recovered and works as Fan Engagement Executive at Notts County FC, where we worked to raise funds and awareness earlier this year, having been generously gifted front-of-shirt sponsorship of the club for the month of September by Alice’s dad, Martyn.

As well as recalling her work from the past decade as Chair of Forward M.E., the Countess of Mar also took part in a Q&A panel with our Policy and Engagement Officer, Sam Bromiley and our Chief Executive, Sonya Chowdhury, following her progress update on our international advocacy work with the International Alliance for M.E. "What we've seen in other illnesses is that it is absolutely possible to move forward, even if we can't agree on every point,” commented Sonya. “It can be helpful to present a range of views, but what we must identify is what we do and don't agree on, and how we represent that."

Following workshops led by our welfare benefits advisor, Sophie Knight and specialist occupational therapist, Sue Pemberton, our Trustees and conference delegates convened for our 2018 AGM. This included updates from Sonya and our Treasurer Philip Marsden on our 2017 – 2018 annual report, and the approval of the following appointments to our Board of Trustees:

  • Alison Deeth and Phil Murray – who spoke at the start of the conference about why joined the charity - as new Members and Trustees
  • Lucy Goodwill and Glen Buchanan as new Members and Observer Trustees
  • of Matt Symonds, Colin Batten and Philip Marsden as continuing Members and Trustees.

As detailed in our annual report, our recorded total income for April 2017 to March 2018 was £1,268,718, and overall expenditure was up 41%, reflecting our critical investment in vital services and initiatives including the launch of our Children and Young People’s Service, our international advocacy work, and increased overall investment in income generation.

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who attended, and our speakers and workshop leaders. Films of all the presentations, the Q&A panel and our AGM are available on our YouTube channel.