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Spotlight: Deputy Chief Operating Officer Dawn Beaumont-Jewell

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) CRN South London Deputy Chief Operating Officer Dawn Beaumont-Jewell talks about what it has been like to help steer the Network through a global pandemic, as well as her efforts to support her local community.

The aim of this monthly spotlight blog series is to celebrate, highlight, educate and inform the public about the diverse range of people who support vital research studies from within our region. We are proud of everyone who plays their part in contributing to improving the health of the population.

Dawn was speaking to Administrative Assistant Angharad Linnard.

What do you do?

I’m the Deputy Chief Operating Officer for NIHR CRN South London, which basically means I support our Chief Operating Officer in making sure that, as a Network, we deliver on our national priorities. We work as an organisation alongside our health and social care partners to ensure that clinical research is delivered to the highest possible standards.

How would you describe yourself?

I am a caring, consistent and reliable person. My work requires professionalism and the ability to bring in some creative thinking to help my colleagues to overcome any challenges. It is, in my opinion, also important to add a sprinkle of light humour and quirkiness into what is a very serious job!

When did you join CRN South London?

I joined the organisation in May of last year. It was a really strange time to be starting a new job. I left CRN North Thames and immediately started in a brand new network. However, this is a fantastic team who have firmly adopted me into the fold. Everyone has helped me to find my feet and I will always be very grateful to my colleagues for that.

What are you interested in?

My partner and I started our own Facebook group, JJ Music, during the first lockdown. Our group is a platform that musicians can use to reach out to other artists and fans, and we help to create opportunities to promote their work across various platforms. We have interviewed bands and advertised the streaming of their music using StageIt, which is a platform for live and interactive performances. The problem for a lot of artists is how to stay current whilst not being able to perform and tour. The current situation stifles the arts and entertainment industry; we just wanted to do something to help out.

My partner has also written four new songs, and we have been filming previews to showcase the music. I have found our creative collaboration to be very beneficial. I also enjoy cooking, and am interested in Ancient Egypt’s archaeology. During lockdown, I learned to play the guitar which is something I previously attempted and abandoned. This time I persevered and have now honed my skills.

I’m also a Street Coordinator for my local Neighbourhood Watch, which has helped me to think about how we can take better care of those around us. My neighbour was burgled which made me want to get involved in something to support my community. I have helped to organise vaccinations for everyone who is eligible in my local area in North Essex.

Why are you involved in research?

My research career began at the start of this millennium as a research nurse. I am passionate about changing things and challenging accepted procedures, which is what researchers do every single day.

In 2014, I joined CRN North Thames. I was a Research Delivery Manager for the Reproductive Health and Children’s specialties. My clinical background as a nurse meant that one day I could be working in an oncology clinic and the next day in a labour ward. This experience taught me that there are many transferable skills that can be utilised.

Why is research important?

Research is important because it puts patients, their experiences and the need to progress medicine at the very heart of the NHS. This past year has taught us so much, and research has been at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts. Our Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, have been speaking to the nation about research studies that are taking place in south London and elsewhere. These updates have improved people’s understanding and knowledge of research; my own family now understands what it is that I do for a living, which is a great benchmark for success!

We are only able to make improvements to health and social care because of everyone who supports the delivery of vital clinical research. Thank you to everyone who has made these approved COVID-19 vaccines a reality. Please do visit the NIHR’s Be Part of Research website if you’d like to find out more about how to take part in studies in south London.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.