60 years of progress together: National Conference 2019 heralds an exciting new era

Published Date
Kate Cleaver
Care & Support
CEO Catherine Woodhead at National Conference 2019

Over 300 delegates attended our busy, vibrant national conference to learn about services they’d never heard of, successful and ongoing campaigns, how to access clinical trials, new ways to volunteer and exciting changes in research, at the Sofitel Hotel, Heathrow on Saturday 12 October.

CEO Cat Woodhead spoke of the charity’s determination to fulfil the expectations of people with muscle conditions who want to do what others take for granted. Things like going to university, having children, getting a brilliant job, enjoying a day at the football, going travelling.

These activities weren’t really considered possible for people 60 years ago. Much has now been done to ensure that society doesn’t create unnecessary hurdles.  And we must go further. We are committed to working with you so that you can continue to push the boundaries to achieve your lifetime goals.

In an introductory speech which gave context to the charity’s 60 years, Chairman Professor Mike Hanna explained that as a result of the researchers who dedicated their working lives to finding treatments and building knowledge, their foundation is now being developed by a new generation of brilliant scientists. He said:

Combined with new technology, the future is more hopeful than ever before.

Underlining the crucial need to continue raising funds to deliver the research and science work in the next 12 months, Cat said she and her teams will be walking on hot coals, literally, to achieve it.

Prof Matthew Wood and Dr Melissa Bowerman discuss progress in research

MDUK’s future priorities are:

  1. Funding the most promising research and talented researchers here and across the globe to find treatments and, ultimately cures, for conditions.
  2. Secure access to treatments, improve support and care and remove the barriers that stop you living life to the full.
  3. Endeavour to ensure that everyone with a muscle-wasting condition knows of Muscular Dystrophy UK and how we can help from the point of diagnosis and beyond.

After lunch, Vice-President Karen Attenborough spoke with Trailblazer Emma Vogelmann about her landmark legal win and to Annie and Kevin Blake about Annie’s diagnosis of FSHD and her friendship with recording artist Hilary Roberts.

Emma Vogelmann and Annie and Kevin Blake in conversation with Vice-President Karen Attenborough


The Presidents’ Awards, awarded to five completely incredible individuals, were introduced and presented by Vice-President, Michael Attenborough CBE.

They are:

Community Achievement – David Duggins (accepted on David’s behalf by Muir and Marion Wilson)

Early Career Scientist – Dr Christopher Banerji

Campaigner of the Year – Kerry Thompson

Fundraiser of the Year – Wayne Armsden

Richard Attenborough award for Outstanding Achievement – Peter Ashley



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