On Monday (24 August 2009), I went to the launch of the Walton Report at the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) next to Regent’s Park in London. This is the final report from the inquiry of All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Muscular Dystrophy (chaired by Dave Anderson MP) that looks into specialist care for muscle disease and related neuromuscular diseases.
It was named after Lord John Walton of Detchant (Honourary Life President of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign) who was a part of the APPG evidence inquiry sessions from December 2008 to July 2009, and is one of the three people that founded the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign 50 years ago.
Upon arrival at around 10:40, once I got into the building at the RCP I was dying to go wee having gotten up quite early and being stuck in London traffic, but the bathroom was one floor down about 8 steps below. So, I had to use the glass lift to go down about just 3 metres, but the bloody door wouldn’t close making the lift unusable. 10 minutes later, after many members of staff attempted to solve the problem w/ no resolve, my dad tried to tell the lady that my wheelchair was too big for the lift by having me in and out of the lift and showing her the magnetic lever, which she finally half-hearted agreed with. At that point, my dad held down the lever w/ his foot to see if I could drive over the lever with my wheelchair and see if the door would close. However, when I went over the lever the damn lever broke, so I had to reverse out of the lift quite precariously that was interesting to do. Then, the half-hearted lady said she’d show me where another bathroom was and Lord Walton took the lead and was very helpful, trying to get someone to tell me where the bathrooms were. We ended up going onto using a different lift and we left Lord Walton in the reception area. The lady really had no idea where she was going and we ended up going on the wrong floor before we actually found a bathroom in some backdoor corridor and I said to Dad, sarcastically, “Welcome to the Royal College of Physicians…” once we got to the bathroom, as he laughed. When we left the bathroom, the lady had suddenly vanished, so we had to find our way back, which we did. Yet when we went to a different floor, she said she was looking for us and told us to go down to the basement level, but that was the wrong floor; and we found ourselves being told by a brisk fellow this was the wrong floor, who was guarding what looked like a giant storeroom for champagne. At this, my dad said, “My goodness, physicians do drink a lot…” to which the guy pretended he didn’t hear and continued filling out paperwork on his clipboard. Thankfully, we finally found our way back to the reception area, though this scenario took over half an hour (and is often the story of my life). All before the actual event had even started – fun times!
Anyway, after I chatted to all of my friends from the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign in the reception area, we went for a photo call in the gardens of the RCP around 11:30. Once that was done, we all went to the first floor into a beautiful, domed conference room. Dave Anderson MP, Chair of the APPG for Muscular Dystrophy, then gave the Welcome Address and then passed it onto Lord Walton, who gave a very moving and interesting speech. It was followed by a speech from the Director of Policy and Operations of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, Robert Meadowcroft, about the key facts of the Walton Report and what needs to be done now, as well as comments from Sir Michael Rawlins, the Chairman of NICE. That concluded the first half of the event because it was time for the best part of the day, Lunchtime…
During lunch, I met the Chief Executive of the Snowdon Award Scheme and we had a very insightful conversation about Higher Education and Trailblazers; hopefully Trailblazers and his organisation can team up to do some good work together. Dad and I left the reception area once we finished the conversation and quickly made our way to the lifts to head back to the conference room before the rush started.
The second half of the event was more interactive part of the day with a panel discussion, which I really thought was quite fascinating and surprisingly I found Lord Walton to be quite a witty person (and I was laughing in tears from all the humourous things he was saying throughout the day). Concluding remarks and the next steps to be taken, presented by Mr. Anderson concluded the event.
Finally, Phil (Chief Executive of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign) gave a passionate speech and made the closing remarks. What an amazing event indeed!
Overall, I really enjoyed the day greatly and thought it was a brilliant experience; and it was a pleasure to represent Trailblazers at the launch too. I especially enjoyed meeting all my friends from the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign and meeting with Lord Walton of Detchant, Baroness Thomas of Winchester and Dave Anderson MP. Anyhow, we just need to now get some clout among politicians to bring the Walton Report high up on the political agenda, which can make a real, positive change for the better for people w/ Muscular Dystrophy and related diseases right away…
Find out more about the Walton Report.
By Sulaiman Khan