Case study: Ipswich man dedicates over a decade of his life to ensuring people’s lives are made better by NIHR research
“At its base, the NIHR are working to ensure that people’s lives are made better by medical research. In a world where there is so much despair and unpleasant news, the balance is that there are thousands of people who work every day to improve lives through health and care research.”
Anthony (Tony) Rivett has been a Public Contributor in health research for over a decade, including helping to drive the strategy for the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) East of England since its inception in 2014.
Tony, from Ipswich, is now retired but had a varied career which included running a comprehensive school in Essex. He has also worked with Ford Motor Company, Marks & Spencer’s, and ExxonMobil at board level.
After retiring, Tony was anxious to keep his brain active, so he volunteered at Ipswich Hospital’s A&E department. It was during his three years as a Volunteer there that the hospital created a new Research and Delivery (R&D) panel. The director of the panel, aware that Tony had a master’s degree in applied research, asked him to be a member of the panel as the layperson – a voice to represent the patients and public.
This “valuable” role introduced Tony to the world of clinical research, and he spent another three years on the panel, which saw him proofreading trial papers and offering his viewpoint. “This was a good learning experience and I got to learn about how hospitals work,” he said.
During this time, he also sat on another panel based in Suffolk which focussed on the ethics of adopting trials. Following this experience, Tony joined the Mental Health Research Network East of England, based in Cambridge. The lead of this network was Professor Jesus Perez, who would later become the first Lead Clinical Director for the NIHR CRN East of England.
During his eight years with the Mental Health Research Network, Tony worked closely with researchers at the University of Cambridge, helping them with their research. This involved writing patient information sheets, consent forms and lay summaries of research trials.
Throughout this period. Tony also dedicated his time to several other volunteer roles, including Chairing a national research board at University College London’s (UCL) and supporting the University’s core research programme.
Tony also returned to education for several years, working with the University of Suffolk, where he sat on their recruitment panel for their nursing and social care degrees. He also taught part time on these courses, talking about the importance of research, and applying it to the students’ studies.
When the NIHR formed the regional Clinical Research Networks in 2014, Tony was invited by Professor Jesus Perez to join the Partnership Board as a Public Contributor for the East of England region. The Partnership Board includes all NHS and social care research leads who are part of the regional network, who meet with CRN East of England on a regular basis to discuss NIHR research delivery, funding and support.
Tony explains: “At its base, the NIHR are working to ensure that people’s lives are made better by medical research. In a world where there is so much despair and unpleasant news, the balance is that there are thousands of people who work every day to improve lives through health and care research.”
Tony also currently sits on the steering group for the NIHR-funded TYPPEX study, which aims to help people who have had psychotic episodes early in their life. Outside of his work in the health and care field, Tony also finds time to volunteer for his local church, helping them support their diverse community.
To find out more about how you can get involved in research visit www.bepartofresearch.uk.