Alison Maguire, a director of the charity The Lily Foundation who has helped to get the law changed to help families affected by mitochondrial disease, went back to her old school, Croydon High, this week following her nomination for the Girls’ Day School Trust Alumna of the Year Award.
Maguire (nee Chisholm, from the class of 1994) spoke to the senior school, plus Years 5 and 6 in assembly about her life since leaving school and how she believes the school prepared her for the incredible challenges that she was to face.
After graduating from Warwick with a first-class degree in Biological Sciences, Maguire spent five years working in accountancy before starting a family. Her first child, a daughter Niamh, was diagnosed at aged three with mitochondrial disease, for which the Maguires were told there was no treatment or cure. Niamh died aged just four and a half.
The day after Niamh died, Alison picked up a leaflet about a local charity, The Lily Foundation and discovered it had been set up by Liz Curtis following the death of her own daughter, Lily, to the same condition. The Maguires and Curtises both lived in Warlingham and their daughters had been alive at the same time. Liz was being contacted by families asking for information about mitochondrial disease and was struggling to help them. Maguire, with her medical science background, joined the charity as a trustee and soon realised that she could make a real difference to people’s lives. She soon went to work at the Lily Foundation as research director.
When researchers at Newcastle University developed a way to utilise IVF for mitochondrial donation to prevent babies being born with the disease, Maguire fought to change the law, working tirelessly to lobby select committees and MPs, rallied the public and briefed journalists.
On February 3 this year, all of this dedication paid off, when the House of Commons voted in favour of amending the law. But for The Lily Foundation, the work goes on for those affected by this cruel disease.
“Alison is a true example of what can be achieved if you set your mind to something,” said Debbie Leonard, the head of Croydon High.
“She very obviously inspired the girls during the assembly at school and she has also volunteered to support the school in a number of other ways, including setting up work experience opportunities in research laboratories and sharing her experience of actually changing a law. We are extremely proud of all she has achieved and determined to support her.”
Croydon High and Alison Maguire are now seeking public support for her in the Alumna of the Year Award, which as well as being a huge honour will bring additional exposure for the charity she is dedicated to supporting.
Voting is open to all . To vote, visit www.croydonhigh.gdst.net/Croydon-High-Alumnae Voting is open to everyone and closes this Friday, May 15.
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