It is nearly 13 years since Forward-ME was founded with a core group of nine ME charities and support groups. We now have more than 17 charities and associate members. The whole scenario has changed considerably since those early days. Despair has gradually turned to hope. There is more public understanding of ME and, with a few notable exceptions, the professions are exhibiting more appreciation of the complexities of the disease. The rewriting of the NICE Guideline for ME/CFS is eagerly anticipated despite the repeated deferrals of the publication date. Thanks to the work of the UK CFS/ME Research Collaborative, the grant of more than £3 million for a large genomic study of people with ME is under way.
From a personal point of view, I have been rewarded by the determination of all Forward-ME members to set aside their differences and to work together to achieve the objectives we agreed upon at our first meeting. We still have some way to go, but the foundations have been laid for our continued cooperation. I realise that what is needed for our future is a different approach to our relationships with people outside our small community. Instead of the ad hoc basis I have worked under, an efficient system of management would significantly enhance our impact. Good fortune has sent us just the right person in Andrew Morris who has all the skills and experience we need. Additionally, he has a daughter with ME and the determination to improve the world for people with ME. As you will see from the minutes of our meeting on 16 March 2021, he has given the matter much thought and has now said that he is willing to take over from me as Chairman. I will still be around for a while, as it is intended that the changeover should be smooth and it may take a while for Andrew to find his way around. We will work in tandem until I am no longer needed. He is at the front!
It only remains for me to thank everyone with whom I have been involved over 25 years of working with people with ME, particularly members of Forward-ME, for inspiring me, to wish you well and to remind you all that Unity is Strength!
8 April 2021
ANDREW B MORRIS - BIOGRAPHY
Andrew Morris was a leading figure in the events industry for over thirty years, with unique experience in managing stakeholder relationships in family, private equity, local government and franchise business ownership.
He launched the innovative Business Design Centre in Islington in 1986, and in 1999 led the management buy-in of Earls Court & Olympia, acquired from P&O, managing the divestment to St James Capital/Nomura in 2004. He was then appointed CEO of the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham where he transformed the culture from ‘council’ to ‘commercial’, kick starting the long-term masterplan for the site as a leisure destination.
His interest in coaching and leadership led to the acquisition of the Academy for Chief Executives where he became CEO for the next 5 years, subsequently selling to his largest competitor, Vistage, based in San Diego, USA. His book ‘Business to Go’ capturing his approach to how SME’s grow, was published by Troubador in April 2012.
Today, Andrew has a portfolio of interests, helping entrepreneurs develop themselves and their business through mentoring and strategic advice, as well as leadership workshops and facilitation. In 2018 he launched his charity, The Wellside Trust, supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged victims of trauma, loss and racism.
Andrew lives in Hampstead in London with a home in Devon, and his mantra is ‘take your job seriously, but not yourself.’
He has been married since 1976 to a ceramicist, Jennifer, and has three children, Amy, Sophie and Ben, who don’t take him seriously.