More letters needed!
As shown in this post from Dec 22, 2018, we need written letters to support the nomination to have Prof. Ashton’s work recognized in the UK / Queen’s Honours List for 2019.
To seriously help the nomination for Heather, we need as many written letters of support as possible, but so far, only a handful have been received by the Cabinet Office.
THE POSTAL ADDRESS (If sending from US, you will need to use 3 stamps for postage)
Honours and Appointments Secretariat,
1 Horse Guards Road,
There is no set format for the letter, but please feel free to use the following as a guide:
2) How you came to know (about) Heather
3) Any involvement with her / knowledge of the things she has done / how she/her work helped you
4) Reasons why you would like to nominate
5) Summary/Anything else you’d like to add
- July 11 will be Heather’s 90th birthday and she is not well
- Our aim is Honours in June, but a long shot because usually takes 18-24 months, so all support is needed now
- There are about 700 signatures on a petition (please sign), but there is no guarantee the petition will be considered by the Cabinet Office, so we still need letters
- The nomination has already been made, so the clock is ticking, and we only get one shot at this – let’s make it count
- It would be truly sad if Heather doesn’t make it on onto the honours list due to lack of support, especially considering she’ll turn 90 this year and may not be with us much longer, so for those who can, please put pen to paper and help make this happen.
NOMINATIONS TO DATE
To see a list of nominations made, please refer to this list, where you can add your name once you have sent off your letter.
If you need a template or letter to reference before writing your own, please refer to the sample letter below.
7 January 2018
Honours and Appointments Secretariat,
1 Horse Guards Road,
Ph: 0064 xxxxxx
Re: Queen’s Honours Nomination for Prof. Heather Ashton
I would like to take this opportunity to nominate Prof. Heather Ashton for Queen’s Honours 2019 which was initially lodged by Barry Haslam (former Chair of Oldham Tranx) and backed by Sir Michael Rawlins (GBE FBPhS FMedSci, Chair of the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) and Prof. Malcolm Lader (O.B.E., LL.B., Ph.D., M.D., D.Sc., F.R.C. Psych., F. Med Sci., Emeritus Professor, King’s College London).
I first became acquainted with Heather in January 2009 when I was in the Japanese courts seeking evidence that withdrawal reactions can occur whilst still taking benzodiazepines exactly as prescribed without any changes in dosages.
Heather kindly guided me to medical literature published by her. She continued to provide useful information throughout the remainder of my litigation.
After my court case had ended, I remained in contact with Heather as one of the translators of the Ashton Manual in Japanese; the manual is now available in over 10 languages. Heather later helped me prepare for my presentation on behalf of victims at the 2014 ISAM World Congress held in Yokohama, and through my translations, she also assisted Japanese doctors and accommodated interviews with Japanese newspapers in an effort to contribute to the wider international community.
During this time, I had been writing a book, while living in evacuee housing following the Fukushima disaster, and Heather had kindly been reading through each and every chapter offering valuable feedback. We continued to maintain contact in this manner up until the beginning of 2016 when she became ill.
During these six years, I exchanged literally thousands of e-mails with Heather and came to know her well. I learned how she had been tirelessly helping individual sufferers worldwide, by telephone and e-mails, where international medical systems had been failing. Apparently, colleagues at Newcastle University often commented that she was crazy for spending all her time on individuals, but she never saw it that way and was always happy to do whatever she could.
I can only imagine her sitting in her upstairs office at home responding to the many hundred / thousands of requests for help that kept flooding in from various countries, and yet she did her best to respond to all of them, the whole time writing medical papers, giving presentations, advising international governments and so on.
Looking back, I find it difficult to imagine how she ever found the time to read through all the chapters of my book giving valuable feedback, but she did. I realize now in hindsight, that my initial writings were atrocious. However, she always believed in me and could see the diamond in the rough; I’m sure no one else would have had the patience or the willingness to give up one’s time to assist in such a way.
I came to know Heather as an incredibly learned woman with broad knowledge in areas not only concerning medicine but also philosophy, science, literature, poetry, religion, history and the like, and despite this, she was always so humble and approached people on a personal level that they felt comfortable with.
Running a benzodiazepine withdrawal clinic under the NHS for 10 years, Heather was a compassionate doctor with traditional values. She sat and listened to patients which enriched her knowledge about the implications of prescribed benzodiazepines. As humble and gracious as she is, Heather has always been very quick to point out that it was the patients themselves who first became aware of the risks associated with these drugs giving them the most credit.
While presenting at the ISAM Congress in Yokohama back in 2014, I had the opportunity to meet with Prof. Ashton’s grandson who was studying at Tokyo University at the time. During our discussions we talked about Heather’s commitment, and he said, “I think she’ll continue to help others until she draws her last breath…,” and I agreed.
Indeed, in early 2016, Heather became unwell and was admitted to hospital before being transferred to palliative care with her son back at her Newcastle home. I am aware that even in her declining state, she has continued to respond to messages from desperate people wherever she can, sometimes relaying messages through her son by telephone.
After receiving a suggestion from Barry Haslam later in 2016, I set about establishing World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day and designated July 11, which is Heather’s birthday, in her honour. Barry and I are Co-founders of this day which is now in its fourth year and is observed internationally with official resolutions in four US States and more underway.
In summary, during the six or more years that I was in regular contact with Heather, I feel privileged to have known someone who is so humble despite her extensive knowledge and expertise as well as someone who is selfless, caring and giving while respecting traditional values. It is for this reason I would like to nominate Heather Ashton for Queen’s Honours in 2019. I’m sure that the many tens of thousands of people she has touched around the world would also be encouraged by such recognition for a truly special woman of her time.