Five weeks ago, Newry and Mourne ME Support Group was just a twinkle in Joan McParland's eye. The group hadn't even held its first meeting. Today Joan has bagged the most talked-about ME researcher in the world to come to one of Belfast's biggest hotels on Sunday, 22 May, and she's now wondering if the place has enough space to hold everyone who wants to attend.
“I shot off an email to Judy Mikovits one evening at 10pm inviting her over here and within 10 minutes got a reply from Judy saying ‘yes, when can we do it?' I thought “What? We've got nothing here, lots of hostile GPs, no services, no real clinic to speak of. This will put Northern Ireland on the ME map”, Joan said today.
So far, over 90 people – including three virologists – have said they want seats at the event in Belfast's Holiday Inn to hear XMRV researcher Dr Mikovits from the Whittemore Peterson Institute in Nevada.
She will be joined by ME Research UK founder chairman Dr Vance Spence between 2 and 5pm. There will be no admission charge but a generous donation to help cover costs will be requested.
At a pinch, the room holds just 120 people.
“I haven't even sent out any press releases yet and I'm already wondering if we need to start looking for somewhere bigger”, said Joan.
She's organising the event with help of friends and ME contacts Antoinette Christie (one of the Province's top fundraisers for ME research), Tom Kindlon (vice-chairman of the Irish ME/CFS Association), Paula Gilfedder (Northern Ireland), and Margaret Gray (from the Armagh and Dungannon Group).
Funding has come from the Irish ME Trust in Dublin, Derek Peters (Campaign for ME/CFS Healthcare in Northern Ireland) and Newry and Mourne ME Support Group committee members.
“I want to hear more about the science behind the XMRV work and so do lots of people over here”, added Joan. “Who knows where it will take us but it's the most exciting ME news in the world today and it gives patients a reason to hope”.
For information about the meeting on 22 May, please phone Joan on 07712 892 834 or email firstname.lastname@example.org