The story.... so far
Hope 4 ME & Fibro Northern Ireland began many years ago as a thought, by a patient who found herself bed bound due to a mysterious illness. She felt she was alone and there was no one who could help her, so she had a goal to get well and help other people like herself.
That patient was Joan McParland, Founder and now Treasurer of Hope 4 ME & Fibro Northern Ireland.
When Joan met a few like-minded people things began to take shape. The group was initially called, NEWRY & MOURNE ME/FIBROMYALGIA SUPPORT GROUP and was founded in April 2011.
Today, the "Hope" charity is stronger than ever!
We have over 100 members, a dedicated committee and a number of enthusiastic volunteers who all help to keep things going. We have hosted both patient and medical conferences, regularly bringing top Doctors and Researchers to Northern Ireland.
Furthermore, we continue to raise funding for Bio-Medical research, liaise with all major ME and Fibromyalgia charities both in UK and Ireland and highlight awareness at every opportunity.
Our group has the full support from Newry, Mourne and Down Council and local politicians, and our aim to accomplish ME patient care services in Northern Ireland is coming closer every day. We believe that the approximately 7000 ME patients, and 23000 fibromyalgia patients, in Northern Ireland deserve the best treatments available and we continue to lobby local government to achieve this aim.
We were awarded the Patricia Graham Shining Light award at the 2013 Volunteer Now awards, making us visible to other Newry & Mourne community groups. Our awareness event in May 2013, to light up the 18 arches (Craigmore viaduct) went global via Facebook, triggering interest in Japan, Canada and in the USA.
If you, or someone you know has ME or Fibromyalgia come along to our next meeting where you will meet people who know what its like to live with these debilitating illnesses, you will get up to date information on treatments, research, benefits and advice and opinions of people who know what its like to struggle every day with ME/Fibromyalgia. We have a guest speaker every month. So, if you or your family and friends want to become a member or volunteer with us, why not come along to our next meeting, or contact us through this website. Everyone is welcome!
Hope 4 ME & Fibro NI - Board of Trustees
Joan McParland is the Events Coordinator and Treasurer of Hope 4 ME & Fibro Northern Ireland. She started the group in 2011 and her dedication and management has enabled the group to grow to what it is today. Joan’s vision to establish specialist NHS services in Northern Ireland for all ME and Fibromyalgia patients has driven the group to become a successful regional charity open to all ME/FMS patients their carers and family.
Martina Marks started as a volunteer with the group then became Vice – Chairperson before her present role as Chairperson. Martina shares Joan’s enthusiasm for their campaign to secure NHS services in Northern Ireland for all ME and Fibromyalgia patients. She is part of the steering group set up by Patient & Client Council to address this issue, and regularly attends meetings with MLAs and Health officials on behalf of the group.
Sally Burch joined the group in November 2012, and became a committee member in early 2014. She often writes on ME issues in her blog: Just ME. In 2015 Sally presented on the ME situation at an ePatient conference at Queens University Belfast. She produced a video presentation for the event because she was too unwell to attend in person at the time. The video of that presentation can be viewed here.
Belinda Dale joined the committee in 2015 and has a wealth of knowledge and experience working with MLAs. Her role on the committee is to liaise with local politicians on behalf of the group. Belinda is crucial to our campaign for NHS services, as we provide evidence to local government to help make necessary changes to our health service.
Hugh Boyle is Vice Treasurer of the group and co-founded the group with Joan in 2011. Hugh shares the committees passion for the current campaign to implement adequate NHS services for all ME and Fibromyalgia patients in Northern Ireland.
Shauna Mathews joined the committee in January 2015. Shauna manages membership at each monthly meeting, and contributes to the day to day running of the charity.
Ruairi joined the committee in early 2017. He has taken on the role of camera man for the live videoing of group speakers at each monthly meeting. (This service is available to our subscribing members, and is especially appreciated by those too ill to attend meetings.) Ruairi is also a skilled fund-raiser.
Eilidh is mother to a young person with ME. She joined the committee in early 2017, and quickly took on the role of parent representative. She is keen to use her new role to stand up for the rights of young people with ME & fibromyalgia.
May Patton is our Catering Manager and has been an active volunteer from 2011. Although she is not on the board of trustees, her role in supporting her daughter Joan with all group activities is a significant one.
Dr. William Weir
Dr. Anne MacKintyre
Dr. Vance Spence