Professor’s work earns royal recognition

January 31st, 2012

Marion Walker

A Nottingham professor who has dedicated her professional life to helping to rehabilitate people affected by stroke has received royal recognition for her work.
Professor Marion Walker, Professor in Stroke Rehabilitation at The University of Nottingham’s Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing, has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Prof Walker, who also studied for two higher degrees at The University of Nottingham, is joined on this year’s Honours list by other Nottingham alumni, including Chief Executive of GSK Andrew Witty who received a knighthood for services to the economy and UK pharmaceutical industry.
She said: “I am absolutely thrilled to receive this honour. It is just fantastic that the work of stroke rehabilitation research at The University of Nottingham has been recognised in this way. Improving the quality of life of stroke survivors is central to all our efforts.”
Prof Walker started her professional life as an occupational therapist, qualifying in 1980 at the Glasgow College of Occupational Therapy and going on to become one of the first occupational therapists in the UK to be awarded a PhD. She received a College of Occupational Therapy Fellowship for pioneering a research culture within the profession. Her work was later recognised by her own peers when she was cited as one of the top 10 occupational therapists in the UK in the Independent on Sunday in 2002.
She came to Nottingham in 1983 to help establish one of the first stroke units in England, moving on to research in 1986 and working on a number of short-term research grants until securing her first University of Nottingham post in 1997 as Lecturer in Stroke Rehabilitation, a post funded by the Stroke Association. She became Professor of Stroke Rehabilitation in 2007.
Prof Walker has played a key role in influencing clinical guidelines on stroke care and rehabilitation and her current role at Nottingham sees her heading up a £4m programme of work in stroke rehabilitation implementing the research findings from four studies. She is also working on research projects worth £10m in stroke rehabilitation grants.
During her time at Nottingham, she has also played a key role in establishing The Nottingham Stroke Consumer Group, a unique partnership between academics and stroke survivors. Launched in partnership with Notts businessman Ossie Newell, who himself suffered a stroke in 1999, the group provides an innovative way for researchers to receive feedback with the aim of improving and developing stroke treatment by focusing research more closely on the needs of stroke patients.
Prof Walker is recognised for her expertise in stroke rehabilitation both nationally and internationally, demonstrated by her appointment as Associate Director for Rehabilitation for the UK Stroke Research Network (SRN) and her time serving as Chairman of the UK Stroke Forum from 2007 to 2009, a role which saw her leading a forum of UK stroke medics, nurses, therapists and other healthcare professionals with an interest in stroke and play a key role in launching the National Stroke Strategy with the Minister for Health. She is a trustee of the Stroke Association.
Prof Walker’s leadership in research was recognised by the invitation to give the Royal Stroke Lecture in 2009 at Kensington Palace and the Princess Margaret Memorial Lecture in 2010. She was also the first non-medic to be invited to give the opening plenary lecture of the Australasian Stroke Society and the only UK rehabilitation representative on the writing committee of the European Stroke Guidelines.
Prof Walker took on a visiting professorship at the University of Sydney from February 2011 to April 2011.
Nottingham’s Vice-Chancellor Professor David Greenaway said: “I have already contacted Professor Walker to pass on my warmest congratulations on this well-deserved honour, but I know other colleagues from around the University will also be delighted to hear this news. Professor Walker has made a tremendous contribution to research into stroke rehabilitation, much of which has placed the most important people — stroke patients themselves — at the heart of studies and the recommendations into improvements for their care.
“The University has recently recognised the importance of stroke rehabilitation by including it in our £150m Impact Campaign as one of our strategically important research priorities.”
Other Nottingham alumni who received New Year Honours were:
Prof Madeleine Atkins (PhD Education 1982), Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University, a CBE for services to Higher Education; Prof Ruth Chambers (Medicine 1973; Medicine 1975; DM Medicine 1995), Clinical Director of Practice Development and Performance for NHS Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Group, an OBE for services to Primary Care; Dr Andrew Kidd (Agricultural Sciences 1982), Deputy Head, Kabul Office, Department for International Development, received an OBE; Dr Frank Newton (MSc Sports Medicine 1993) former Chairman, ISAF Medical Commission (1990-2000), an OBE for services to sailing; Lynn Slinger (MEd Education 1989), headteacher of Forest Way Special School, an OBE for services to education; John Huddleston (Chemistry/Physics 1974), lately Knowledge Leader and Project Director, AEA Technology, an MBE for services to the environment; and businessman Rodney Hughes (MPhil Civil Engineering 1974) an MBE for services to business in Newark, Notts.
Find out more about the University’s Impact Campaign and how you can support stroke rehabilitation research at:

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