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“Being a Research Champion is hugely rewarding and it’s important work”

Michael has spoken about his experience as a Research Champion with NIHR Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester and how he feels his role is both valuable and rewarding.

Michael, 66, from Manchester and his wife of 30 years are retired after running a group of retail stores for over 25 years. On retiring, Michael wanted to do something worthwhile. One day a friend told him about being a member of a patient involvement group who were looking for more people to join. Michael went along to discover what it was all about and has been involved ever since. He became a Research Champion for CRN Greater Manchester in August 2020.

Michael’s wife suffers from fibromyalgia and he has osteoarthritis, is pre-diabetic and has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, so these areas of research interested him the most.

Michael says: “When you become involved in research, you learn about lots of different projects and so many of them sound really fascinating and worthwhile. Becoming a Research Champion has opened up a huge amount of opportunities and I have met people and seen things that I would never otherwise have been able to do."

Michael has been involved in several Greater Manchester projects, including being part of: 

  • a workshop looking at creating an agreement about how to collect mental health data safely in clinical trials with Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • a virtual focus group with NHS England on a framework for patient safety
  • testing of a decision-support tool in GP practices to help with prescribing the right antibiotics at the right time to the right people. 

Michael has also been involved with research fun days, talking to members of the public about research and explaining to them how to become involved.

He says: “It is important to understand that my role is not as a patient or someone to take part in a trial, although I have also done this as well. My role is to help develop and monitor research and to make sure that it is easily understandable and is likely to be useful.”

Michael’s other passion is photography and he has a studio where he spends many happy hours creating artistic portraiture.

One of his proudest moments was working with the NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF) as part of the NHS 70 celebrations when he was involved in the judging panel for a poster in the ‘What Research means to me’ competition. Entries were received from patients whose conditions have improved after attending trials, public contributors who have been driven to support and change research after events in their own lives, professionals whose passion for their work goes above and beyond their job descriptions, and family members who have
dedicated themselves to research following personal tragedy.

Michael urges other people to become Research Champions. He said: “Being a Research Champion is hugely rewarding and it is important work. If you are interested in finding out more, please take the plunge. Whatever your level of education, it really doesn't matter. What matters is bringing your experience and the experiences of people you know to the table. The more diverse the range of experience, the more likely it is that the research will be useful and relevant.”

Become a Research Champion

We are always looking to add to our group of local Research Champions in Greater Manchester. If you would like to become a champion or have a casual chat about what the role entails and how you can help, we would love to hear from you.

Please contact Janet Eastwood, Head of Communications and Patient and Public Involvement (e) (t) 0161 276 4646.