Tatyana And Hrh

A Year in Review: 2023

2023 has been a momentous year for The Scar Free Foundation. We look back at some of our achievements from the last year, and anticipate exciting developments in 2024.

In February, we held our Women and Girls in Science event. Our vision of a world without scars is only possible with the help of incredible women - including our Scar Free scientists, philanthropists and our experts with experience of living with scars. We were absolutely delighted when HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh agreed to celebrate with us at a special event in the stunning library of the Royal College of Surgeons. We heard amazing talks from some of our Scar Free researchers, nibbled on canapés, and discussed the importance of women in STEM.

Also in February, we visited the Ministry of Defence to showcase the exciting research underway at our Centre for Conflict Wounds in Birmingham. The evening’s programme included updates on our research by leading scientists, and personal testimonies on the impact of conflict wounds from serving personnel and veterans.

In April, we said a warm farewell to our Chief Executive of 20 years, Brendan Eley, and welcomed long-time Trustee, Lt Gen (rtd) Richard Nugee as our new CEO. This change was, of course, bittersweet for all of us. But with Richard at the helm, we will continue to funding research to unlock scar free healing with bold ideas, new partnerships, and big plans.

Also in April, we awarded three Scar Free Student Elective Awards. Each of the talented students carried out an eight week research project on wound healing and scarring. We will releasing new funding for the 2024 Electives early next year, and speaking to one of the students about his experience soon - so watch this space!

In June and July, we welcomed two new staff members to the team: Dr Lubna Arif-Schmidt as the new Head of Development and Jenni Herd as Communications and Projects Manager.

August was a busy month for us - we spent a lot of time learning from each other as we got to grips with the new team. But it was an even busier month for our supporter, Peter Homa! He cycled over 1000 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats to raise money for the Scar Free Foundation. Fuelled by flapjacks and cheered on by family and friends, Peter finished his cycle at the start of September. He raised over £3000 to fund new research into scar free healing - an incredible achievement.

In October, we were delighted to learn that we had been accepted as members to both COBSEO (The Confederation of Service Charities) and the Armed Forces Covenant. Signing the Covenant and becoming a part of COBSEO was a huge moment, enshrining our dedication to helping the Armed Forces Community. The research we fund into scar free healing will improve the lives of injured Veterans and prevent scarring in future military personnel. We've already been using our new connections with other service charities to develop research plans, and we know that our involvement will continue spark new ideas well into the future.

October was Black History Month, so we took the opportunity to speak to three of our Ambassadors - Raiche, Justyn, and Tatyana - about their experiences of being Black and living with scars. Over five short videos, Tatyana, Raiche, and Justyn touched on fashion, mental health, and intersectionality. Their conversations really struck a chord online. Together, the videos got over 3k views on Instagram and TikTok.

October 18th was a very big day for The Scar Free Foundation family - our Ambassador Afternoon Tea and Annual Update Event were both on that day! Our Ambassadors got the chance to meet our Board of Trustees and explore the incredible Hunterian Museum after-hours. At the Update Event, we heard from researchers from diverse fields on their scar free research projects, including Professor Iain Whitaker, Dr Oscar Pena Cabello, and Professor Naiem Moiemen. We were delighted to award Professor Moiemen a Outstanding Contribution Award for dedicating over 11-years (and counting) to the study of burn related injuries and scarring.

In November, the AFFECT study was published - the world's largest study into facial scarring and mental health! Run by Professor Iain Whitaker at The Scar Free Foundation Programme of Regenerative Research at Swansea University, the study showed that people with facial scars are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. This important finding is the first step towards providing comprehensive psychological support to people with facial scars.

We rounded off the year with our Scar Free Christmas Appeal. With match-funding from The Reed Foundation, our donations were doubled - and so many of our generous supporters took the opportunity to give. We raised a whopping £45,692 in just 7 days! It was a massive achievement and we are so grateful to everyone who gave money or shared our posts on social media. Every penny goes to fund new research into scar free healing and raise awareness of the impact of scarring.

So, what's coming up in 2024? Our calendars are already filling up with new research projects and events. On the horizon so far...

- The Amber Young Fellowship Awards - pump-priming grants for research around paediatric burns care (more info coming soon!)

- A new set of 2024 Elective Bursaries, offered with our Partner Membership Organisations
- New research programmes on the horizon
- The Scar Free Symposium, an international conference bringing together the brightest minds in research into scar free healing

...and hopefully many more events and milestones!

We truly are so grateful to all those who have supported The Scar Free Foundation this year.

Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2024!

from Richard, Amanda, Charlotte, Lubna, and Jenni