Susan (1957- ) was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, (RA), in 2001. During a York Hospital appointment in 2006, a health professional told her that York was ‘crying out’ for an RA support group. Susan discussed this with women who had attended a patient education course with her, and they decided to try and organise this. The York Centre for Voluntary Services, (York CVS), provided valuable support, helping them to obtain grants, e.g. from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Susan attended many courses including: governance, project management and fundraising. Susan agreed to undertake most of the work supported by “the other hard-working committee members Anne, Rita, Jenny and Helen”.
York Rheumatoid Arthritis group (Yorkra) held their first meeting in 2007. It is an independent group, but has always worked closely with the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Scociety, NRAS. Yorkra support people with RA (and other similar inflammatory conditions), and their families and friends in York and surrounding areas. Membership covers a wide age range, from early twenties to the very elderly.Meetings are usually held monthly, with speakers such as Rheumatology Consultants and other health professionals. Information and opportunities to talk and share ideas are provided. There is a seated T’ai Chi class and special event days e.g. pain management, stress management. They also raise awareness – RA is an autoimmune condition and is quite different from the more common osteoarthritis caused by wear and tear of the joints. During the Covid 19 pandemic, Susan has kept in contact with members by posting news updates, by phone and by email.
The group have received ongoing support from the Hospital Rheumatology team. In 2008, Yorkra nominated the team for a NRAS award which was presented to the Consultant Rheumatologist and Nurse specialist at the House of Commons. Susan attended with the Yorkra treasurer, Rita Peacock.Susan was born in Derby and has lived in a number of different locations. She moved to Leicester in 1975 to train as a registered nurse and qualified in 1978, working mainly with renal patients. She met her husband in Leicester and their two children were born there. She stopped working due to long term health conditions and then studied for a BA (Hons) degree in Humanities with Philosophy with the Open University.Susan and her husband moved to York in 2002. She is a carer for her niece, who has myotonic dystrophy, (a rare condition), and learning disabilities, who came to live with them after her mother passed away in 2018.
Pauline Alden, a member of Yorkra commented: “Susan is a very compassionate person. She and her husband work hard to organise the meetings. She is a great advocate for Rheumatoid Arthritis and a source of help for those who suffer from this painful and difficult condition”.
Written by Susan Leadley
Sources: Information from Susan Blore and Pauline Alden. York Press.