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Our People


Mavis R Smith

Mavis R Smith (Northeast Chair)

In February 2007 I was diagnosed with Giant Cell Arteritis. I became actively involved with the PMR-GCA Group after I discovered the treatment was exactly the same as when my Mother had PMR over 20 years previous. We need research, support groups and people to talk to and the hope that future generations will not have to suffer from PMR & GCA.

Margaret Wright B.A. Hons. F.R.S.A. (Vice Chair/Project Manager)

A 66 year-old mother and grandmother, living with husband Ron in the small fishing village of Cullercoats on the North East Coast in Tyne and Wear. Margaret was diagnosed with PMR in May 2006 and is the Project Co-ordinator for PMR-GCA UK North East Support Group. Before developing PMR she walked an average of 6 miles 3 days a week, swam 20 lengths 3 days a week, sailed, absailed and led a very active life. I'm now in remission and swim 20 lenghts  3 times per week - sailing and absailing ?- I wish!!

Pamela Hildreth

Pam Hildreth (Secretary)

I'm 69 years old and was diagnosed with PMR just before my 60th birthday having suffered for about 5 months. The first year was the worst, the isolation, lack of information, understanding or hope was depressing.

Thankfully things are changing and there is now a network of support out there and more research ongoing.


Alan Tailford (Treasurer)

Alan is 67 years of age. He retired from Northumbria Police in 1999 and has since had two roles with the Office for National Statistics.

Alan volunteered to act as treasurer and is pleased to be associated with the dynamic team who steer PMR-GCA NE.

Lynne Boyle (Membership co-ordinator)

Lynne has  PMR. She is retired from the insurance industry and can now devote more time to our charity. Lynne still plays squash although she concedes her best days have passed!

Christine Beet (Forum Administrator)

My name is Christine Beet and I live in Central France with my husband Dave and two Bichon Frisé dogs Sparky and Monty. The language barrier caused a bit of difficulty with the diagnosis of my PMR two years ago but, with the aid of leaflets and papers I printed off the Internet and translated for my GP we eventually got there! I was 58 years old when the symptoms began and I felt truly lost with no one to discuss things with and no one to understand what I was going through

On the day I discovered the N E Support Group I cried for hours with the relief of being able to share my problems. Then I began to think about others like me, even those in the UK who cannot attend a support group and suggested that we would benefit from an interactive forum! I am very proud to be more closely associated with the NE Group in my new role of Trustee and hope I can make a useful contribution!

John Robson (Press and Publicity)

John Robson (Press and Publicity)


John is a 54 year old father of two and for the last 16 years had lived in Durham City with his wife Ruth. He has always enjoyed extreme sports and challenges, and his life revolves around running, climbing and mountaineering. John retired from a 30-year Fire Service career in 2015 serving in Northumberland, the International Fire Service College (Gloucestershire), Highland and Islands, and finally County Durham and Darlington.


John is a founder member of the Fire and Ice team which has raised £120,000 for local charities through presentations and social events. He has completed many high altitude expeditions and 22 marathons around the world, plus many other challenge events.


John was a very fit and active 51 year old when he was diagnosed with PMR in May 2013. He completed a 21 month steroid reduction programme and has returned to running and climbing, and in October 2015 returned to high altitude mountaineering with an expedition to the unclimbed and remote Mukot Peak in the Dolpo region of the Nepal Himalayas. 


Professor Bhaskar Dasgupta

Professor Bhaskar Dasgupta MBBS, MD, FRCP (Consultant Rheumatologist & Clinical Director for Research)

Professor  Dasgupta leads the Southend Rheumatology Dept. which offers specialist services for complex inflammatory arthritides. The Unit is renowned for research, teaching and training. He has developed academic collaboration with the Essex University. Under his leadership the hospital has developed a research culture responsible for the second highest portfolio activity within the Essex & Hertfordshire CLRN.

Dr Saravanan

Dr Saravanan, MBBS FRCP (Consultant Rheumatologist)

Dr Saravanan, MBBS FRCP, is a Consultant Rheumatologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospitall ln Gateshead. He has a special interest in joint hypermobility and a research interest in rheumatoid lung disease. He is also interested in networking with clinicians in other specialists in primary care, vascular surgery, pathology, ophthalmology etc. to improve management of patients with polymyalgia rheumatica & giant cell arteritis.

Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson (MP Blaydon)

A patron of the PMR-GCA North East Support Groups, Dave, a former colliery fitter from Sunderland,  is also MP for Blaydon.

He has provided immense support to PMR-GCA North East and has a passionate interest in all health matters.

Sister Jacqui Binding (Rheumatology Nurse)

My background was in acute medicine and district nursing when I took an opportunity to specialise in Rheumatological disorders. I have now been a Rheumatology Nurse Specialist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Gateshead for almost 18 busy and rewarding years. The management of many of our diseases over this time has changed dramatically, improving patient outcomes and experiences. My work is very demanding and busy but we can and hopefully do make a difference to how a patient manages to live with a chronic illness. It is a real honour to be asked to be a patron of PMR&GCA UK North East Support and I look forward to supporting and becoming involved in the group.

Dr Sarah Mackie (Associate Clinical Professor and Honorary Consultant Rheumatology)

 Chapel Allerton Hospital (clinical/academic), St James’s University (academic), Wharfedale Hospital

I am a rheumatologist currently in year two of a five-year NIHR Clinician scientist Fellowship, which centres around ways of improving the diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR).

Member of group responsible for reviewing and updating the 2010 British Society for Rheumatology PMR Guidelines.

Member of ACR/EULAR International PMR Guidelines Group

Co-Chair of OMERACT PMR Working Group – working towards a core outcome set for use in clinical trials of PMR


Jim Aitkenhead

Jim's mum Freda was an out of area member of the charity. Sadly she past away last year.  When his mother first became ill with PMR there was very little information out there, however, he found our web site, joined his mother and was very grateful for the support given.  Over the past couple of years Jim and his family Richard Lindsay and Sara have been fantastic friends to the charity.  They have completed two walks  to raise money and divided it between the Parkinson’s society (his father had Parkinson’s) and our charity.   Later this year he and his family are hoping to ride from the Mosel Valley in Germany to the French Borders, money raised will again go to the Parkinson’s Society and our charity.

Jim's money has enabled us to produce the Steroid treatment Recording Book and Alert Card and our booklet "Living with PMR & GCA"

Dr Deborah Stocken, Craig Stocken, Freya and Ben

Deborah's  mum Judith Moffat is a member of the charity and her family as a way of saying thank you for the support we had given Judith decided to raise money for us. Deborah took part in the Windermere Cross Lake Chill Swim, Craig Stocken took part in an ultra marathon following the St. Oswald’s Way, Freya and Ben baked cakes and did the ice bucket challenge.

In 2014 the money he donated  together with the money raised by Dr. Deborah Stocken and her family contributed towards our new booklet "Living with PMR & GCA"

Carol suffell

Carol is a good friend. She has been with us from the start attending each support group meeting and undertaking general administration work.  

Gentle Walking Group

The group was formed early in 2014 when a local Nordic walking group folded. The group meets weekly, walk for approximately 1 hour, usually on a flat route and in various locations throughout the Cleveland area.

Several members are PMR/ GCA sufferers. The group enjoy the walk and the company, some bring their doggies and all  enjoy socialising in a nearby café or pub afterwards. They donate £1 per person at each walk.

GDA Design

Edward and Freda of GDA Design. (   Design Consultants, adopted us in 2010 producing all our publicity, newsletters and publications.   They also contrubute towards our costs

Phil Corr and Enid Mitchell

Enid Mitchell  and Phil Corr are life time members for their services to the group from its inception. They run a raffle at each group meeting 

Lilian Mead and Joan Catton

Lilian and Joan volunteered their services for the inaugural meeting and have been with us ever since. We call them “Tea Ladies” but they are our friends 

Sandra Robinson

Sandra, friend of Trustee Lynne Boyle, was asked a few years ago if she would help with registration at Gateshead meetings. She was pleased to help and has continued ever since.  

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