Today is International Women’s Day, and to celebrate we’re taking the opportunity to introduce you to some of the amazing women involved in our mission to eliminate scarring within a generation.
From our inspiring Ambassadors who bravely share their stories to clinicians and researchers pushing the boundaries of science find out more about some of the women who make the prospect of scar free healing possible.
HRH Countess of Wessex
Her Royal Highness has been Patron of The Scar Free Foundation since 2002, and opened the Foundation’s Centre for Conflict Wound Research at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham in 2018. We are incredibly grateful for her support and patronage.
Lottie has scarring from three gunshot wounds to the face. In Lottie’s own words: “three gun-shots left the 45 magnum. One passed through the right side of my face, taking out my top lip, jaw and teeth and breaking the bottom jaw. A second skimmed the back of my head fracturing my skull and leaving a bone deep wound. The third grazed my left cheek. I was lucky that day.
The day before Lucy’s first birthday, she accidentally knocked the hot tap in the bathroom and was scalded in 0.03 seconds, resulting in 33% scarring to her body. Lucy made it through her three-month recovery period in Nottingham City Hospital, fighting off two blood poisonings and a life support machine.
Hilary was born with a congenital haemangoima, undergoing major surgery at a young age that resulted in significant scarring. Hilary has always been determined never to be defined by having a facial disfigurement and has lived a full life as an academic and now as a psychotherapist.
Emma was born with a cleft lip and palate – born just slightly more unique as she likes to say. Emma’s message to anyone with new scars, or old scars, is to be proud of who you are and don’t think of yourself as different or the odd one out, but the unique one.
Elizabeth survived a fire at her home with severe burns over her entire body at just six-months old. She lost most of her fingers, part of her nose and one of her ears.
For the rest of her life, Elizabeth will have ongoing treatment, including regular operations and physiotherapy due to her scarring. Her scars restrict her movement on her neck, elbows, wrists and other joints.
Elizabeth says: “Sometimes I like my scars because they are part of me, I don’t remember not having them. Sometimes I don’t like them because they hurt and are itchy and I have to have lots of operations. Because I am missing fingers I can’t hold onto the bars in gymnastics but I can still cycle my bike.”
Lois Collier is an events planner from London. Lois was attacked in November 2017, sustaining scarring to her face and hands. Lois says:
“I have my good days when I want to leave my house without any makeup and that’s completely fine, but there are other days when I do want to cover up with camouflage, and that’s also fine. But generally, I’ve accepted my scars and now I embrace them – it’s a new me really, a new look. I now have a beautiful little girl and couldn't be happier.”
Pam is a survivor of the Paddington rail crash in October 1999, which killed 33 people and left more than 400 injured.
Pam was on an express train which smashed head-on into another train that had just left the station. The impact created a massive fireball inside her compartment and Pam was left with full thickness burns to her face, hands and legs and was unconscious for three weeks.
Raiche was just 18-months-old when she sustained third degree burns to 70 per cent of her face and body in a house fire. She is now a grants officer in London, a fiancee, a dog mum, adventurer and advocate for burns awareness.
Abi Hobbs was born with a cleft palate and has had to endure invasive surgery, genetic testing, regular photographs of her head and jaw, assessments, as well as frequent visits to specialists which will continue into her teenage years.
Abi and her mother Anna help the cleft study to help doctors help other children smile.
Tattyana is studying Youth Justice with the Open University. She survived 60% burns to her body when she was just 8-years-old and is now working with others to raise awareness of the long term mental and physical impact that scarring can have on people’s lives.
Hemani Modasia is a GP based in Milton Keynes and survived burns to 35% of her body when a candle caught onto my pyjamas. This led to significant burn scarring on here head and ear, across here chest, and on her legs.
Emily McDermott was born with a unilateral cleft lip. Emily's Mum, Rachel McDermott is also an Ambassador and plays a crucial role on our Research Council, providing invaluable input from a patient’s perspective.
Emily says: “Sometimes people ask me what happened to my lip and some adults have been really rude about the way I look. That doesn’t make me feel good, but I’m still practicing answering people’s questions and ignoring people who are mean.”
Pioneering scientists are at the forefront of our medical research programmes and are driving forward our mission to make a world without scars a reality. Here are just a few of to whom we are indebted.
Professor Janet Lord
Professor Janet Lord is Director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, a multidisciplinary research institute which brings together fundamental scientists and clinicians to translate understanding of the process of inflammation in to new treatments for chronic age-related inflammatory disease and the consequences of major trauma.
Dr Beck Richardson
Dr Beck Richardson is a Lecturer at the University of Bristol’s School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience. Dr Richardson’s lab is interested in the processes of tissue repair and regeneration and use use zebrafish to study how tissue regeneration occurs, with a particular interest in their ability to remove deposited scar tissue
Professor Di Harcourt
Professor Harcourt is the Co-Director of the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE Bristol). Her research interests focus on psychosocial aspects of having an altered or unusual appearance, including those associated with cancer (particularly breast cancer, mastectomy and breast reconstruction, prostate cancer) and burn injuries.
Dr Mary Keeling
Dr Keeling is the Senior Research Fellow for the Understanding Needs and Interventions for the Treatment of Scarring (UNITS) study. Dr Keeling has been working in the field of Military Psychology for the past eight years and is currently the senior researcher on a project investigating the experiences and intervention needs of military personnel and ex-service personnel who have sustained a physical injury during operational deployment or field training that has led to an altered physical appearance.
Dr Yvonne Wren
Yvonne is Director of Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Yvonne’s main area of interest is in the field of persistent speech disorder and more is chief investigator of the Cleft Collective Speech and Language Study, a national cohort study of speech and language development in children born with cleft palate.
Dr Sarah Lewis
Sarah obtained her BSc in Genetics at the University of Sheffield in 1995 and then went on to complete a PhD in Genetic Epidemiology at the University of Manchester in 1999. Her research interests are in using Mendelian Randomization to understand risk factors for cancer and to identify modifiable factors which influence in utero development and became involved in The Cleft Collective in December 2014.
Dr Amber Young
Dr Amber Young is a Consultant Paediatric Anaesthetist at University Hospital Bristol and is the clinical lead for The Scar Free Foundation Centre for Children's Burns Research.
Professor Alison McGregor
Professor McGregor is a Professor of Musculoskeletal Biodynamics in the Department of Surgery and Cancer, where she manages the Human Performance Group. The Scar Free Foundation are funding Professor McGregor to carry out her research project Revenite: An app to connect and support the rehabilitation needs of veteran amputees, which will be starting in June 2021 at Imperial College London.
Alison Clarke is a member of our Board of Trustees, and has over 25 years of experience working with some of the world’s best known global corporations. As well as being a member of the Foundation’s Trustee Committee, Alison also serves on the Foundation’s Finance & Operations Committee.
Alex has over 20 years of legal experience; much of it in pharma and healthcare. Currently, Alex works as General Counsel for Reed & Mackay. Notably, Alex was a finalist for the award of ‘Young Corporate Counsel of the Year 2006 and 2008 in the British Legal Awards, as well as winning General Counsel of the Year in 2009 and a Team Finalist for Legal Department of the Year in 2010.
Amanda McKechnie is Company Secretary and Finance Manager and joined the Foundation in 2014. Since then she has become a vital link between the Ambassadors and the Scar Free Foundation.
Charlotte Coates is Head of Research Funds and also joined us in 2014. Part of Charlotte’s work involves evaluating research applications and liaising with the scientists and clinicians at universities and hospitals around the country who are carrying out our valuable research into scarring.
The most recent addition to our brilliant team is our Senior Trusts and Foundations Manager Amy Ingram. She joined the Foundation in June 2020 and has already become a key team player.
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