by Sarah Wright, Policy and Public Affairs Officer, ARMA

Well, what a time to be leaving ARMA! We’re finally starting to get the recognition that MSK deserves and this Alliance of organisations is now recognised as the place to go to for solutions to the MSK problem. But let’s not open the champagne just yet, there is still a great deal of work to do and what a perfect time to hand over the ARMA baton to someone to take it to the next level.

I joined ARMA in April 2009 at an impressionable age and have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from so many great people. At one of my first MSK events, Mike Kimmons taught me his most important lesson in life: to always position yourself by the door from which the canapes arrive – invaluable advice. Ros Meek taught me a great deal, including the art of jumping through the closing doors of a lift to ‘nobble’ a senior civil servant (if you haven’t heard this term used before the definition is ‘to win someone over by devious means’ – I think that sums Ros up quite well). Phil Gray, Tony Redmond, Dave Marsh, Tony Woolf and Federico have all taught me diplomacy, strategy and how collaboratively to achieve the best from this Alliance. Janice Johnson has shown how effective one person with real passion for a cause can be. Jane Dunnage and Pam Stewart – where do you get your energy from?! On board a train after a particularly successful BSR conference I even learnt how to open a wine bottle armed with just a pen and brute force. That particular member will remain anonymous, though remains my favorite travel companion.

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with different people from diverse organisations on many varying projects. I have been involved in the ARMA standards of care; all of the work that ARMA and the members did around metrics; the ARMA Work Charter; various roundtable events and parliamentary receptions; seven annual ARMA Lectures; the Government Affairs program; the Joint Working and Joint Delivery reports; the Musculoskeletal Map of England and Scotland; all of the work we have done to feed in to BJD and EULAR PARE; the Clinical Networks project with NHSE; the ARMA Local Networks; and I am very sad not to be involved in the Musculoskeletal Health in the Workplace project going forward.

I am so proud of all that ARMA has achieved. I take particular pleasure in the moment people who don’t know the organization realise that it is in fact just two (recently two and a half) people in a little office on the first floor of the BSR. ARMA head office can sometimes be a difficult job, trying to align 40 organisations with clear common themes, but it’s a great feeling when we do all work together: the weight of 40 organisations in this Alliance is a very powerful tool.

My four year old daughter asked me recently what I do for a job. After a momentary pause I told her that I tried to help people who were in a lot of pain to get better. It’s a very simple definition of what we all try to do but in its most basic form that is why I joined ARMA, to raise awareness of a set of conditions that are in my opinion grossly under-prioritised. I hope I have helped to push the MSK agenda forward and I will now try and do the same for people (particularly young people) who are also in a lot of pain in their bodies but this time I get to work directly with them at SCAT. I will miss ARMA terribly but I feel so fortunate to be going to work for a great charity that I have been so involved in over the last few years and feel so passionate about.

Thank you to everyone that I have worked with but special thanks to the ARMA Trustees and to Federico, Garreth and Anoushka. I hope to keep in touch with as many of you as possible and if you’re ever stuck on the 19.04 to Kings Cross with a bottle of Pinot Grigio and a biro, you’ve got my number.

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