A local charity for people with M.E. founded 25 years ago by Shrewsbury couple Reg and Josephine Watson will be holding its biggest-ever public meeting on Saturday, October 6.
To mark the group’s silver anniversary, Shropshire ME Group will be holding an ‘M.E. Question Time’ at the Lord Hill Hotel, Shrewsbury, starting at 2pm. It’s open to anyone, with no cost to get in and no need to book.
When Reg and Jo started working on their kitchen table to build up the group all those years ago, they little guessed that some of the biggest names in the M.E. world would be gathering in their home town.
Taking questions will be panelists Dr Charles Shepherd, medical adviser to the ME Association, the association’s paediatric adviser Dr Nigel Speight, M.E. specialist Dr Sarah Myhill who has a private practice at Knighton in Powys, education specialist Jane Colby from the Young M.E. Sufferers Trust and Simon Toghill, who works for the local NHS M.E. Service.
“It was a hard slog to begin with. We were members of a group at Stourbridge covering whole of the West Midlands because there was nowhere else to go. But we wanted somewhere for local people to find out more about the illness and keep in touch”, said Reg, a retired electrician.
“We were given £25 by the ME Association to get things running. For the first year, we kept in touch by sending out typed newsletters – tough when you can only type with one finger. We had no one to help for the first year but numbers slowly built up. At the first AGM a committee was formed and an editor volunteered to print newsletters on computer. Meetings were held in members' homes.
“I’m very proud of what we achieved in the early days and wish the group every success in the future.”
Reg, who is now 68, and his wife handed over the reins to others when he was re-diagnosed with a heart problem but the couple will be guests-of-honour at next week’s meeting.
Peter Ruberry, from Shropshire ME Group, said: “They are a lovely couple. We couldn’t let the occasion go by without recognising their early work.
“The group has been a registered charity since 1999. Nowadays, it has contact members and meetings in most towns round the county and we remain well-respected as a source of information and advice about what is still a much-misunderstood illness. We still perform a vital role in the internet age – providing somewhere people can actually meet to share their problems.”