About us

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.

Joan McParland

Joan McParland

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 webpage. Everyone is welcome!

Hope 4 ME & Fibro NI - Board of Trustees

Joan McParland

Hugh Boyle

 Joan McParland

Founder and Events Coordinator
Joan McParland 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.

Hugh Boyle

Vice Treasurer
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.

May Patton

Eilidh Gilmour

Parent Representative
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

Catering Manager
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.  

Professor Brian Hughes

Scientific Advisor
Professor Brian Hughes - Professor in Psychology, and a specialist in stress psychophysiology, health psychology, the public understanding of psychology and science, and the application of psychology to social issues. A prominent advocate for scientific psychology, evidence-based policy, and the role of psychology in society, he writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics. He is a member of the HSE (Ireland) National Working Group on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and serves as a Scientific Advisor to the charity Hope 4 ME & Fibro NI.

Dr Nigel Speight

Paediatric Advisor and
Patron of Hope 4 ME & Fibro NI
Dr Nigel Speight -formally Consultant Paediatrician, University Hospital, North Durham, with a special interest in M.E..  Served on the CMO’s working party and on the RCPCH Guidelines working party (2002). One of the authors of the 2011 case definition, International  Consensus Criteria, and also was one of the authors of the 2017 Paediatric Primer published in Frontiers in Paediatrics. Patron of Hope 4 ME & Fibro NI



Medical Advisor

Dr. William Weir

Scientific Advisor

Dr. Vance Spence