Medilink Midlands Christmas Message 2020

18th December 2020

As Chief Executive, one of my last duties for the year is to deliver the Medilink Christmas message. However, in this strangest of years, we thought it only fitting to break from tradition and have the first ever Medilink Midlands Christmas message come from one of the longest serving Medilink Directors, Keith Widdowson.

Keith has served on the board of Medilink East Midlands since 2004 and was one of the founding Directors of Medilink Midlands. As part of the merger, he recently stepped down from the Medilink East Midlands Chair role, but I am delighted that he will continue to support Medilink Midlands as a Non-Executive Director, under the Chairmanship of Professor Martin Levermore, CEO of Medical Devices Technology International (MDTI).

It is with great pleasure that I leave the last words of 2020 to Keith, wishing you all a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2021.

Dr Darren Clark
CEO Medilink Midlands

Apart from celebrating a historic event, Christmas is a time for reflection and consideration of what the future holds, especially for our families. COVID has created a situation which none of us could have foreseen. However, the way the Midlands has responded is a testament to our companies and our region as a whole.

As a focal point of the life sciences industry in the Midlands, Medilink Midlands has played a pivotal role from the onset of COVID-19, supporting the business community by connecting it with suppliers, distributors, key NHS contacts and other like-minded businesses who were pursuing similar COVID-related goals.

This led us to set up ‘The Big Ask’ alongside the East and West Midlands’ Academic Health & Science Networks (AHSNs). The Big Ask is a central repository of the needs and wants of life science businesses in the Midlands, including the manufacture of gowns, gloves, masks and face shields, COVID-19 testing, remote consultation, mental health services and medical textiles. To date, we’ve had over 110 offers of support from over 100 companies.

Such a tremendous response has shown to Government exactly what we can do to help combat this global pandemic and, with a post-Brexit UK coming in January, exemplifies the quality and value of British-made goods and services. I hope that, if COVID has done one good thing, it has paved the way for a step change in Government attitudes towards our industry in the Midlands.

There have also been some important developments within Medilink itself, with the ongoing creation of Medilink Midlands. The reason we decided to formalise the revised structure now was that with the recognition in this time of unprecedented change, we need to link more closely with Government and other potential funding sources across the region. Only through being successful working with and on behalf of such bodies can Medilink truly offer an effective and valuable service to our members.

By providing a united, Midlands-wide front, in the form of Medilink Midlands, this will ensure there is a truly region-wide life sciences network operating under a single governance structure, whilst the delivery of our sub-regional contracts continue. This approach will allow us to best serve the Midlands life sciences community.

I have now stood down as Chairman of Medilink East Midlands, but I shall be continuing to support Medilink Midlands as a Non-Executive Director, as my desire to help the life sciences community to grow and develop is as strong as it ever was. It has been a privilege to work with Darren, Chief Executive and his executive teams led by Costa and Melanie. I have seen Medilink East Midlands grow from small beginnings to an organisation providing substantial life sciences knowledge and support. But we must continue to progress further.

The Chair of Medilink Midlands will be Martin Levermore, CEO of MDTI and former Chairman of Medilink West Midlands. The executive team will be led by Darren as CEO. This will show the unity of the Midlands and the new amalgamation will have the combined knowledge and experience of both organisations behind it.

No-one can be sure what the future holds, but with a COVID vaccine now beginning a national rollout, it can be hoped that we shall all start to return to some form of normality. I know that the ways in which we have innovated and adapted our operations during this past year have helped us to continue to move forward during what has been a very difficult time.

For those of you who attended the final Medilink East Midlands AGM, you may remember that I mentioned a quotation I once read in an old schoolbook of mine, from George Bernard Shaw, which I think is particularly apposite today.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

2020 has certainly been a year of change, and we at Medilink Midlands have changed our thinking to adjust to the new environments in which we find ourselves. As we move forward, I know that Medilink Midlands will continue to grow and develop further, bolstering the Midlands’s reputation for life science excellence and most importantly, helping our members.

I wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a prosperous new year.

Keith Widdowson
Medilink Midlands

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