We met in the restaurant of John Lewis in Solihull - not far from Birmingham (which is roughly in the centre of England).
The venue was excellent and the restaurant staff couldn’t have done more to make us welcome. We had the biggest turn-out yet for a lunch which, including the three doctors, totalled 26 PEM Friends. We met from 11 am til the last group of eight people left at 4.15 pm!
Our specially invited guest for the lunch was the Dermatologist, Dr. Karen E. Harman FRCP, DM, MB, BChir., who practices within the National Health Service at Leicester Royal Infirmary, as well as having a private practice at the Spire Hospital, Leicester.
Just the day before the lunch, we were contacted by Saaeha Rauz PhD, FRCOphth (Miss). Senior Lecturer/Consultant Ophthalmologist at the University of Birmingham, who asked if she could come along for a short time, to establish contact with us, and to bring with her a colleague, Geraint Williams. He is currently initiating a long term prospective study of ocular and oral mucus membrane pemphigoid, having received a sizeable grant.
Miss Rauz is keen to initiate some form of dialogue between patients and professionals involved with pemphigus and pemphigoid – so hopefully we can soon begin to take this forward and possibly involve both Dr. Harman and Dr. Setterfield (who practices in London). It was fortunate that Dr. Harman, Miss Rauz and Geraint were able to take advantage of the occasion of our lunch to get to know each other a little before Miss Rauz and Geraint had to leave.
After a hasty lunch, Dr. Harman then moved between small groups and answered questions and talked at length on whatever aspect anyone wanted to learn more about. She was so incredibly selfless and generous with her time and knowledge and everyone was immensely grateful to her.
Dr. Harman must have talked non-stop to everyone for at least two hours or so. What a special person she is.
The next lunch will be in October 2009, and we may have to bow to pressure from those in the south-east, and have the event in London. If we do, the following one in February 2010 will definitely be in Solihull again!