In 1990 I founded Charities Evaluation Services - an organisation funded by the Home Office to improve the effectiveness of charities across the UK and internationally - and was its Director for twelve years. I then established my own consultancy. Prior to 1990, I lectured in social research at North London University and founded and directed its Community Research Advisory Centre. I have been a Lay Panel Member of UCL/UCLH Biomedical Research Centre for 6 years; I am a Review Panel Member for its PPI Bursary Fund; act as a reviewer for NIHR NETSCC and BRC; contribute to PPI training programmes for researchers; and am a Sounding Board member for Cancer Research UK.
Prior to my retirement I worked as a Chartered Internal Auditor, managing the review of a wide variety of public sector systems. I was also a soft fruit grower for several years while my three children were growing up. Since 2012 I have been a lay member of Public and Patient Involvement in Research (PPIRes) based in Norwich and I have been involved in a range of research studies as an advisory group and steering group member. My interest in health research stems from my care and support for a number of family members with various health issues.
My professional background is as a research scientist for both Cancer Research UK and Cambridge University in metabolomics and tumour imaging. I have a doctorate in the life sciences from the University of East Anglia. I "retired" from full time employment due to long term illness and joined PPIRes and INSPIRE in 2012. Since then my PPI involvement has snowballed and alongside local advisory and steering groups I sit on four committees including a NICE Technology Appraisal Committee, Research for Patient Benefit, Health Technology Assessment and the NHS Patient and Public Voices group.
My professional life was spent as a Mathematics Teacher, and for 25 years I was Head of the Department at Notre Dame High School, piloting a nation-wide mathematics course with the appropriate examinations.
After retirement, I was for 8 years an Adviser for the CAB, which I much enjoyed until my hearing made telephone work difficult. Since 2001, I have been a volunteer for Norfolk Deaf Association and I run a weekly clinic, repairing hearing aids and supporting clients. I am a founder member of PPIRes from 2004: I also review research applications for NIHR (eg RfPB).
During my 36 years in the health service I have taken a very keen interest in 'Patient First' topics and I served as a Community Health Councillor before becoming Chairman of an acute trust's Patient & Public Involvement Forum. I then took on the role of Chairman of Norfolk Local Involvement Network. During this time, I specialised in Mental Health for the Elderly with a PhD in 'Health & Social Care'. I have also served on the Service User Research Forum, being part of NIHR, as well as with other sectors at local, regional and national level.
I came to research through my experience of having had genetic cancers and living with the consequence of treatment that brought me to help Macmillan Cancer Support with issues like survivorship genetics. Since becoming a founder member of PPIRes, I have held various research roles, including that of Co applicant and Co researcher. I am a member of the National Research and Development Carers and Patient Forum which has developed a training package and is now in the process of working towards developing guidance for all patients and carers as Co applicants of research studies.
I am a lifelong family carer for relatives with autism, learning disabilities, stroke, heart conditions, head injury, schizophrenia, anxiety, suicidal depression and vascular dementia, which gives me a wide experience of health and social care. I gained an MA in Medical Sociology in 2002. In 2004 I joined Patient and Public Involvement in Research, doing all PPI Roles. I worked with the Dialogue Trust in Norwich prison, on a discussion group for prisoners, which aims to help re-integrate prisoners into society. I am a member of the NIHR INVOLVE advisory group; Top of Forma lay reviewer for the NIHR commissioning teams; and sit on the core panel for the Policy Research Program funding stream. I am a University of East Anglia 'expert by experience' associate tutor. I have Asperger's syndrome, type two diabetes and gluten intolerance.