The Thalidomide Society was formed in 1962 by the parents of children with disabilities caused by thalidomide, which was dispensed under the name of Distaval in the UK. It was formed primarily as a support group for thalidomide affected children, their families and carers as there was little or no help from the UK government and health authorities following the birth of their often severely impaired baby. Their cause was taken up by Lady Hoare, wife of the then Lord Mayor of London, who established a charitable trust to support the Society and also children born with similar dysmelic conditions. The Thalidomide Society’s Constitution is available to read here: Constitution 2013-14
The Thalidomide Society today has a Board of Trustees which currently has seven members, two of whom are Chair and Vice Chair. The current Chair of the Board is Edward Freeman and the Vice Chair is Marie Pearse. The secretary is Ruth Blue and the Honorary Treasurer is Anthony McGarel-Groves. Together with the rest of the Trustees, the Board are working to pursue the goals and objectives of the Society as well as pushing forwards into new areas of research and promotion.
The Annual General Meeting and Conference of the Thalidomide Society takes place each spring and provides an opportunity for people to meet, discuss issues and share news and memories. Our recent guest speakers at the conference have included Rick Clement and Jacqui Morris, a director of the film Attacking the Devil which documented the work of Harold Evans during the height of the thalidomide scandal.
The Society’s current activities include fundraising, oral history, research and archiving as well as providing our usual support network. To fund its activities, the Society depends mainly upon individual donations, legacies, corporate donations and investment income and from government or other grant-making bodies. If you would like to help us in this way and would like more information, please contact us.
Over the last four years we have had two major celebratory events to mark 50 years since the withdrawal of thalidomide from the market (2012) and then 50 years since the Society was formed (2013). Our 2012 celebration was a conference held at the Park Plaza Hotel in London, attended by over 300 people and including speakers such as Alf Morris, Harold Evans and Janet McCredie. In 2013 we celebrated 50 years of the Society with an oral history presentation and various members of the Society presenting the history of different decades.
The patrons of the society are Sir Harold Evans and Roger Graef.
You can read our latest newsletters here:
The Thalidomide Society is a registered national charity, number 231708. It is also a company limited by guarantee, registration number 770036.
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