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Fundraising for research: playing my part as a Research Champion

NCMH Research Champion Kit tells us how she's been finding new ways to fulfil her role as a research champion during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m not on social media so I feel like I don’t have much of a voice as so much activity takes place on those platforms.

By participating in various research projects including NCMH, MSRegister, Covidence, Support Protect, SWIMS, and others, I feel like I am doing my bit to help.

To spread the word, I can talk to people when out and about or on the phone.

For example, the first four people I spoke to after the good news about the Pfizer-BionTech vaccine were all over 70 and I set about persuading them to make sure they got the vaccine as soon as it was offered.

Fundraising swims

Meanwhile, I got into a fundraiser for research almost by accident.

A research project is looking to develop a COVID-19 antibody test for people with MS which would if successful in the field of neurology, be applicable in other health settings.

Graphic of brain scans

The funding for this research was recently withdrawn because the funding body, a charity, had seen its income fall off a cliff in this pandemic.

The leading research neurologist Professor Gavin Giovannoni decided to raise the modest sum of £25,000 to start the work.

As a middle-aged runner, he had ceased doing marathons a few years earlier because of a hip problem.

He gave it one more go and his hip held out, but the marathon only raised 30% of the total.

A few days later, while running he was knocked down by a motorbike, sustaining a broken hip, C spine injuries, and contusions.

With some impressive hardware holding him together, he pledged to walk 100m unaided within November.

In fact, he managed 650m inside three weeks and decided to make his next walk 5km without crutches.

What I did to help

I follow his research blogs and thought I could do something to help, so I undertook to do 10 x 10 minute swims off 10 different beaches before Christmas.

I started with my local beaches at the end of November and finished my challenge on Christmas Eve.

I had a whale of a time (pun intended) and hit my £1,000 around the time I completed my tenth swim.

My total exceeded £1,300 and one of the research team, Dr. Ruth Dobson, emailed me to say the research will begin in the first week in January.

woman in swim cap swimming in water

I am pleased to have put into action my role as a research champion when I wasn’t able to do talks or any socially orientated championing of research.

It doesn’t directly benefit mental health research but we are in the middle of a mental health crisis provoked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Our bodies and our minds are one interlinked system and research into mental health is vital if we as a society are to overcome the virus and to improve the quality of care for everyone.

Anything that supports a path of research through this period of uncertainty can only be a good thing and I am pleased to have played my part as a Research Champion.



Kit is a retired teacher who enjoys swimming, reading and writing poetry. She is also an NCMH Research Champion.

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