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Posted By Donna Wicks, March 23, 2017

Robert Smith

Chair Person and Trustee

August 2014, Introduction (Biography to follow).
RobSmithI’m tremendously proud and greatly honoured to be taking up the role of Chair of the HMSA. Our previous Chair, Nick Bane, has led the HMSA through some challenging times and there is no doubt that her stewardship has left the charity in a very positive place. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her commitment, passion and hard work over the years, and I’m pleased to confirm that she will continue to support the present board.

My first official role, as Chairman, is to thank our amazing team of staff, volunteers and dedicated medical professionals, for their hard work leading up to, and over, the Residential Conference weekend. The conference would not have been possible had it not been for Donna Wicks and Alan Hakim, who worked tirelessly to pull the event together. They were more than ably assisted by fellow Trustees Ben Cooper & Jenny Parris and I am sure that all those who attended would like me to pass on our thanks for all of their hard work and dedication. We have been truly overwhelmed with the positive feedback and correspondence we received over the weekend and in the last few days. The team will now have a small chance to catch their breath and then the planning for 2016 will begin!

The charity has a challenging and very exciting time ahead and I believe that we are on a path to great things. It is clear to me that a positive soul runs throughout the whole charity, which will provide a solid foundation from which to grow and further develop our work in providing support, education and raising awareness of the issues associated with hypermobility syndromes.

As many of you are aware, we have recently re-branded, and our members have already received our amazing new HMSA Journal. As part of our on-going commitment to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, our editor, Claire Smith, has recently reviewed and revised the HMSA ‘Guide for Schools. The 32-page guide is a valuable source of advice for all parents and school staff who care for children (from primary school age through to higher education), who are affected by the hypermobility aspects of Heritable Disorders of Connective Tissue. We are very grateful to Claire for undertaking this comprehensive piece of work. The guide will further complement our amazingly successful new HMSA Educational Support Group run, on-line, by our Education Development Coordinator (and newly elected Trustee) Jenny Parris.
Finally, I would like to thank all of our HMSA members for their loyalty to the Charity. With your on-going support, we will continue in our mission to drive forward knowledge and understanding and to provide you with trusted, safe, information and advice, backed up with the highest possible standards of service and good long term value.

Dr Alan Hakim

Chief Medical Advisor and Trustee

Dr A J Hakim - ProfessionalPhoto“I qualified in Medicine at the University of Cambridge, and trained at Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge and University College Hospital, London. I was also an Arthritis Research Campaign Clinical Fellow at St Thomas’ Hospital before becoming a Consultant Physician and Rheumatologist at Whipps Cross University Hospital in April 2000.

Over the following fifteen years, as the Lead for the Rheumatology Department I worked to sustain a high-quality Rheumatology and Osteoporosis service. This included a large portfolio of clinical trials in state-of-the-art medicines, and the role of Chief Investigator for the UK in several international clinical trials.

During my research in the late 1990s I met Professor Rodney Grahame and was introduced to ‘Hypermobility’. Hooked, we then worked closely together for 8 years at University College Hospital, London, before I took some time out from clinical commitments to undertake a number of managerial projects in my hospital. These experiences led me to develop a career in both clinical practice and health care management in hospital and community settings, and in Clinical Commissioning, at Executive and Board level.  In July 2012 I rejoined Professor Grahame in the ever-expanding Hypermobility team at the Hospital of St John’s & St Elizabeth, London. At the end of 2016 I took on the role of Clinical Lead for the Unit. I continue my Clinical Commissioning role.

Taking part in education and research has always been important to me. I have over 100 publications, including chapters in five major textbooks and co-author of five of my own books. I am particularly proud of bringing together over 30 international experts and producing, with Professor Grahame and Rosemary Keer, Physiotherapist, the book entitled ‘Hypermobility, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Pain’; and also ‘The Oxford Handbook of Rheumatology’ of which there have been 4 UK and 2 USA editions, and translation in to Russian, Turkish and Mandarin.

Life aside the above I love to travel (walking the great outdoors), and I’m a regular concert/gig-goer (eclectic: Country to Chopin, Rock to Rossini!)

I am delighted and honoured to be Chief Medical Officer and Trustee to the HMSA.”

You can contact Dr Hakim by clicking HERE

Ben Cooper

Director of Fundraising and Trustee

“I joined the HMSA as a volunteer in February 2013 following my own fundraising efforts throughout the latter part of 2012, this nearly 10 years after initially becoming a member in 2004, since then I’ve helped out in a various areas, including helping to organise events, with the forum / social media and looking after some of the general mailboxes. However predominately I’ve been involved in fundraising, which has included anything from actually to supporting fundraisers to sourcing potential new shop items and putting together ‘supporters & fundraising packs’.

Having been diagnosed at age 12, I’d like to think that I bring a verity of different angles and opinions to the charity, as a male sufferer who has experienced first-hand the school support system, a long standing member, the HMSA’s record fundraiser and latterly as a volunteer – if nothing else, I can certainly guarantee my 100% effort and commitment to my role within the HMSA.

Outside of the HMSA, I run my family business which I’ve just expanded globally, I have a team of just over 30 staff working for me, who are all tremendously supportive and understanding of my limits living with the condition. I have a passion for traveling and consider myself very sociable, I enjoy nothing more than having a laugh with friends. I’m also (for my sins!) I’m a big Leeds United fan, and a big football fan generally.”

You can contact Ben by clicking HERE


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