Outgoing Chairman’s Comments,
One of the primary objects of the North Staffordshire Medical Institute is to facilitate medical research locally. At the time when I became Chairman of this Institute in 2019 the future had appeared sunny.
Thanks largely to a very generous donation by the Wade Charitable Trust, an extensive renovation to the building (outside and inside) was under way. An excellent A.V. system had already been installed and the building had been renamed “The Wade Conference Centre”. (Anyone who has not visited the place since the refurbishment would be well advised to take a look!)
Meanwhile, our bye-laws, sub-committee structure and membership had been streamlined. The fund-raising strategy had been reformulated to start to grow our reserves, with a view to increasing the number and size of research grants which we are able to give. An initial, fund-raising workshop had been held, and promised well.
Our investments need to contribute to funds and we had appointed new Investment managers (Smith and Williamson)
The Wade lecture in Autumn 2019 (Given by Prof. Turi King) dealt with the discovery of the remains of King Richard 111, and the subsequent investigations. It was well attended, first-class and highly praised.
In the Autumn of that year a custom-made film “Six Decades of Progress” was produced, illustrating the history and functions of the Institute, and was shown at the re-opening of our refurbished building.
The bad news is that, with the outbreak of Covid and the subsequent lockdown, social distancing regulations made for problems. Income from room bookings vanished, while the 2020 Wade Lecture had to be cancelled. Virtual meetings needed to be set-up and, initially these were not always entirely successful.
A further complication occurred when we lost our Broadband for a full three months as the result of damage during demolition work at the Royal Infirmary site. Yet another setback was later provided by the unexpected discovery of water ingress into the roof of the building. This further expense has now been dealt with.
But since then things have improved. Our treasurer was successful in attracting Government and Local authority grants to help with the loss of income.
The value of our investments has also bounced back, while the research committee benefitted by £79,000 from the return of previous, underspent grants.
This money, on top of our normal allocation, has allowed us (in addition to offering the usual number of individual research grants – of up to £20,000) to establish a North Staffordshire Fellowship. The new venture makes available a maximum grant of £60,000, to run for a one-year period, covering salary and project costs. It is intended to help candidates who wish to transfer from post-graduate to academic careers in their early years.
The Wade Lecture (originally planned for Autumn 2020) has been rescheduled for 24th March. The speaker is Graham MacGregor CBE (Cardio-Vascular professor at the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine) and the title is “The Silent Killers, Salt and Sugar”
There have also been changes to the Staff of the Conference centre. Jacqui Robinson, who has run the office for more years than she would probably like to remember, has retired. Without her dedication there must be doubts whether the place could have survived.
We have now appointed a Chief Operating Officer, Mrs Jeanette Forrester, who is supported by Mrs Jane Hopkinson. Mr Tony Hill, our faithful factotum, continues to look after the building.
It is often claimed that “May you live in interesting times” is an English translation of a traditional Chinese curse, which may initially, be assumed to be a blessing. The Institute has certainly come through an interesting three years, but I believe that – thanks to the work of its officers and committees – it is well placed to face the future.
I wish my successor, Murray Brunt, a successful term of office, and in a less turbulent period.