A WOOSEHILL woman has been appointed the head of an arthritis charity that is backed by the Prime Minister.
Last week, the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) founder, Ailsa Bosworth MBE, stepped down as its CEO, and Clare Jacklin took over. Ms Bosworth will become its National Patient Champion.
Ms Jacklin has worked with Ms Bosworth for the last 12 years and took over last Thursday.
NRAS is the only patient-led UK organisation with a focus specifically on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
And Theresa May paid tribute to Ms Bosworth for her vision in setting up the charity in 2001.
In a statement, Mrs May said: “I first recall meeting Ailsa over 18 years ago when she told me of her struggle with rheumatoid arthritis and her desire to make a change for others living with the condition.
“I was delighted when she asked me to be a patron of the newly formed National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society which she was setting up and I remain proud to be a patron today.
“Despite someone in the UK being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis every 20 minutes, this serious auto-immune disease is still frequently misunderstood. I am glad I can contribute to raising awareness of the impact of this awful condition.
“I look forward to continuing to work with NRAS as a patron and would like to take this opportunity to praise Ailsa for her commitment and dedication over the years. I wish Ailsa all the best for her future work as National Patient Champion.”
And Ms Jacklin was aware of the shoes that she is stepping into.
“Ailsa’s work ethic, devotion and focus on the needs of those living with these complex conditions is exemplary,” she explained.
“She has been a mentor to me, and others, and her influence has made an indelible impact on all NRAS staff as well as our members and volunteers.
“It is a privilege to be part of an organisation that delivers high quality services and innovative solutions to meet the needs of those living with, and the health professionals treating these incurable, auto-immune conditions.
“We are a patient organisation led by a purpose – to make a positive, meaningful impact that is reflected in our mission to Change Minds, Change Services and Change Lives which will ensure people can live full and active lives despite living with RA or JIA. I will do my best to serve the charity and the rheumatology community by leading this wonderful organisation and continue to challenge the status quo; empower and educate individuals to better self-manage their disease and strive for equity of access to best care for all.”
Ms Bosworth added: “I can think of no-one I would entrust more than Clare to take over as Chief Executive and lead NRAS forward into what is going to be a challenging future with the current pressures on the NHS and a changing political situation. Clare’s experience as Director of External Affairs and more recently as Deputy CEO, combined with her 12-year career with NRAS, make Clare the right person to lead NRAS into its next exciting chapter.
“I think it must be quite rare that a retiring CEO can confidently hand over their organisation to someone they not only trust and respect but can call a life-long friend.”
NRAS Chair of Trustees Gordon Taylor added: “Beyond serving as a leader, Clare brings a unique approach to the rheumatology environment, having had a true multi-faceted career journey.”
“I am excited to work with Clare as we continue to deliver high quality, meaningful projects and resources that raise the bar in care for those living with RA or JIA.
“Ailsa has overseen a charity that has consistently evolved to meet new challenges, grasping the opportunities to engage with members and supporters online while continuing to provide comprehensive support through our telephone helpline and volunteer network.”
Professor Peter Taylor, MA PhD FRCP FRCPE, NRAS Chief Medical Advisor and Norman Collisson Professor of Musculoskeletal Sciences and Fellow of St Peter’s College Oxford, Head of Clinical Sciences, Botnar Research Centre said: “It is with huge pleasure that I pay tribute to a truly remarkable person, Ailsa Bosworth MBE. Having faced the tremendous challenge of living with rheumatoid arthritis, Ailsa founded NRAS with a view to providing invaluable help and support for people living with this condition as well as for families and friends.
“And the charity has gone on from strength to strength. It now also supports young people with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Beneficiaries have access to a wealth of resources to help them understand their condition and to work with their healthcare providers to get the most out of medical management and live as full a life as possible. Ailsa herself is an inspiration to us all!
“She is a dynamo of energy and a compassionate visionary whose work has changed the face of rheumatology care, of which promoting and participating in the development of national guidelines and quality standards is just one of numerous examples.
“Throughout her leadership, Ailsa has worked tirelessly to educate the public about inflammatory arthritis and its sequelae and to have a major influence on policy makers.”
“As Ailsa now moves on to a new role within the charity she founded, a remarkably vibrant organisation, NRAS will continue to work to support, encourage and improve specialist hospital services as well as enhancing the lives of those living with inflammatory arthritis
“Countless of us have reason to be profoundly grateful to Ailsa for all that she has nurtured and inspired to enrich the lives of so many while personally exemplifying that the challenge of chronic disease can be turned into an opportunity for enormous good while living life to the full!”