The Gordon Aikman Scholarship was set up in 2017 to support people affected MND, and healthcare professionals, by researching and developing practical improvements that could improve MND care.
In June 2017, MND Scotland announced that it would be match-funding the Scottish Government's annual £25,000 investment in the Scholarship, bringing its total value up to £50,000 per year.
Ahead of the first anniversary of Gordon’s death, the first two £25,000 scholarships have been awarded to Dianne Fraser, Clinical Specialist for MND, within the Neurology Department at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Alison Clarke, Lead Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Long Term Ventilation Service at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.
Dianne will investigate the potential of rolling out a technique for MND patients across Scotland, called Breath Stacking, which can reduce distress when choking occurs, keep the lungs elastic and healthy, and may reduce hospital admissions.
Alison will be looking at how best to introduce people with MND to non-invasive ventilation, for example bringing people into hospital or training them in their own home, and to establish best practice across the country.
During his 3-year progression with MND, Gordon was pivotal in securing a number of vital improvements for people affected by MND in Scotland, including the doubling of MND nurses and ensuring voice equipment is provided on the NHS for people who lose the ability to speak. He also raised £550,000 towards research into Motor Neurone Disease.
Lawrence Cowan, Chair of MND Scotland and close friend of Gordon Aikman’s said: “Gordon transformed MND care in this country. With these scholarships we want to inspire people to keep pushing boundaries and make a difference to the lives of people affected by MND.
Gordon will always be my best friend. I miss him every day. But his memory lives on through the researchers and care professionals working day in day out to fight this horrible disease.
I am delighted that Alison and Dianne will take forward a new phase of transforming MND care in Scotland.”
Shona Robison, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, said: "I'm really pleased to confirm that Alison Clarke and Dianne Fraser are the recipients of the scholarships in Gordon Aikman's name.
Gordon valued the relationships that he formed with all those involved in his care, including professionals. He was constantly striving to seek out treatments and approaches that would improve the quality of his own and other people's lives, and the scholarships aim to build on that - I look forward to hearing what Alison and Dianne achieve."
Joe Pike, Gordon’s husband, said: “It is incredibly exciting that Gordon’s work improving the lives of people with MND is continuing through Alison and Dianne’s projects.
“Gordon transformed the care of MND patients in our country and these scholarships will now strengthen Scotland’s position as a centre of world leading research.”
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