Before you all disappear, I would like to thank everybody for joining me at Clarence House to celebrate the 25th birthday of the National Osteoporosis Society, and I am delighted to see quite a few faces here today who attended their 15th anniversary at Somerset House (an event that, if I remember rightly, caused a certain amount of media excitement!).
It was 17 years ago this Summer that my mother died as a result of a then, virtually unheard-of disease – its name was osteoporosis. Many of you here this afternoon will know how devastating this disease is and the pain and ignominy those who suffer from it have to endure. In my mother’s day osteoporosis was seldom discussed – rarely diagnosed – and usually attributed to old women with so called “Dowager’s Humps”. Today one in two women and one in five men over fifty suffer a fracture as a result of it and it actually costs the NHS a staggering six million pounds a day in hip fractures alone…
My family and I, like many others, were totally ignorant of the facts that lay behind the agony my mother bore so bravely – Why did her bones break so easily and why did she shrink so fast? – I needed to know the answers and this quest led me to a small, but perfectly formed charity called the National Osteoporosis Society. The charity is unique in giving both help and advice to sufferers and their families as well as looking after their 25,000 members.
In due course they asked me to become their Patron and later their President and since then we have worked together on many projects up and down the country. It was my first ever Patronage and, I’m happy to say, that I am still here today flying their flag! – even to the point of dancing the "cha cha, cha" with Craig Revel Horwood, one of our newest Patrons!
But rest assured, ladies and gentlemen, that I won’t be taking part in the next series of Strictly Come Dancing!
In the last decade, I believe, huge strides have been made in the diagnosis, treatment and vital research into osteoporosis, and I hope that with the tireless work of the N.O.S and the help of many of you here today, we can perhaps, in the next 25 years, find a cure for this terrible disease that destroyed not only my mother’s and grandmother’s lives, but also continues to destroy the lives of millions of others all over the world.