My life in research by Meg Kierek-Bell

Robin, Meg’s husband, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2003 at the age of 52. This is Meg’s story.

It happened in October 2011, my husband Robin and I attended an event for younger people affected by Parkinson’s in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The day focused on Parkinson’s research and by the time we were heading home we’d joined the Research Support Network (RSN).

Parkinson’s UK event in Stratford-Upon-Avon, October 2011
I had no idea how we could help but there was lots of energy and enthusiasm from the Parkinson’s UK staff and it was catching.

In October 2012, I became a Volunteer Lay Grant Reviewer through the RSN, helping review requests from researchers for Parkinson’s UK funding and I have been swept along with the charity’s work ever since.

This role really appealed to me as I wanted mental stimulation and although crosswords are excellent, we are not compatible. I felt my nursing skills and experience of supporting my husband Robin met the criteria. I wanted to make a contribution.

We receive regular emails from the Research team offering grant applications for review, allowing me to remain in control of the workload, and in many instances choose applications I find most interesting.

Last summer an opportunity arose for me to sit on a panel alongside experts in the field to interview young researchers applying for a Career Development Awards from Parkinson’s UK.

It was great to be involved in such an important area of the charity’s work.

I now happily forward the monthly ‘Research Roundup’ emails and any opportunities for volunteers to take part in research studies to our local group members. I find the bite-sized information user friendly, interesting and really helpful in making research accessible to anyone interested. Other opportunities filter through linked to research projects with questionnaires or patient information sheets that need fine tuning. Robin will gladly give his measured opinion along with mine.

Being part of the Research Support Network has also given us the chance to meet the clinicians, researchers and Parkinson’s UK staff through visits to research projects and conferences across the country.

I genuinely feel this personal contact is vital for both parties and I wish I could attend more.

There are many threads to research support and there will be something to suit you, it’s just finding the right one and it can be fun! Robin and I are always glad to oblige!

Everyone is welcome to join the RSN, and you can take part as much or as little as you want. From finding out more about Parkinson’s research to getting involved, there’s something for everyone.