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Gordon Aikman scholarship

Published: 20 Jan 2018 00:01

Recipients of MND research fund announced.

The first two recipients have been announced for a scholarship fund set up in memory of motor neurone disease (MND) campaigner Gordon Aikman.

Alison Clarke, Lead Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Long Term Ventilation Service at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow and Dianne Fraser, Clinical Specialist for Motor Neurone Disease, Neurology Department at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary will both receive grants to research and develop practical improvements in the way people with MND are cared for.

Health Secretary Shona Robison announced funding of £25,000 last year. MND Scotland has matched that amount to enable two scholarships to be funded.

Ms Robison said:

“I’m really pleased to confirm that Alison Clarke and Dianne Fraser are the recipients of the scholarships in Gordon Aikman’s name. 

“Gordon valued the relationships that he formed with all those involved in his care, including professionals. He was constantly striving to seek out treatments and approaches that would improve the quality of his own and other people’s lives, and the scholarships aim to build on that – I look forward to hearing what Alison and Dianne achieve.”

Alison Clarke said:

“This scholarship is no doubt the biggest challenge of my 30 year nursing career, but I feel very privileged to have been awarded the research grant.

“It was Gordon’s legacy to provide the best possible care for patients with MND in Scotland. This project means I can share evidence based research across respiratory/ventilation services throughout Scotland with the aim to change our current practices.”

Dianne Fraser said:

“Motor Neurone Disease can affect the ability to breath and cough. I have been using a treatment technique called breath stacking with an adapted ambu bag, which costs only £32. This reduces distress when choking occurs, keeps the lungs elastic and healthy and may reduce hospital admissions.

“Currently there are only a few patients being taught this technique in North Scotland. This scholarship will mean I can complete in depth research with the ultimate aim of every appropriate patient in Scotland being offered this simple technique.”

Background

Gordon Aikman’s achievements

  • Raised £550,000 for MND research
  • Secured the doubling of MND nurses, as well as their funding through the NHS - a move that has transformed care for people with MND in Scotland
  • Helped to secure legislation placing a legal duty on the NHS to provide equipment and support to people who lose their voices through conditions like MND
  • Alongside others, successfully campaigned for carers to be paid the Living Wage
  • British Empire Medal in the Queen Birthday Honours List 2015
  •  Honorary Doctorate from the University of Edinburgh
  •  Joint winner of the SCVO Charity Champion award 2016