I am very honoured that you have chosen to present me with the Kohn Award this year, and I am delighted to be asked back to The Royal Society to receive it. It was in this magnificent room, a few years ago, that I presented Professor Allan Dixon and, later, Professor John Studd with their awards, and I am very glad to see them both here today and so I am somewhat surprised – and extremely touched – to find myself on the receiving end today…
As I am sure most of you here know, I became involved with osteoporosis after my mother and grandmother both died as a result of this devastating disease; then, just a decade ago, osteoporosis was seldom discussed, rarely diagnosed and usually attributed to old women with so called ‘Dowager’s humps’.
Huge strides have been made since then and I’m glad to say that we are making progress on all fronts. But, Ladies and Gentlemen, if we are to continue to make progress we must target, not only the older generation, but the young people - and their lifestyles. It is vital that they learn that regular exercise and a healthy diet are of mega-importance to their bone health in the future, and it is our duty to educate them.
The National Osteoporosis Society, of which I am extremely proud to be President, continues to play a crucial role: in raising the profile of this disease; in funding research; and in providing essential services.
But we must not rest. Osteoporosis is still not as widely understood as we would like. The disease too often goes undiagnosed and patients still find that their path to the right treatment can be a long and painful one.
I know that over the next year or so, the Society will concentrate on helping the medical community develop more integrated services to give people with osteoporosis the care and treatment they need - and should have.
With their support, and that of all you here, we can continue to give this too often silent disease a voice – a voice that can be heard not only in Britain, but worldwide – a voice that can deliver future generations from bearing the pain and ignominy of osteoporosis, that my mother, grandmother, and many, many thousands of others suffered…