message from our President

Our President, Professor John Walker-Smith, was the inspiration for parents to create CICRA and from day one was instrumental in helping us with very sound advice, helping us produce our very first information booklets and more importantly giving the best possible treatment and care to the first children diagnosed with IBD. With our funding he was able to pass on his skills to others via the three year CICRA Research Fellowship training scheme and is responsible for the training of so many well known names in Paediatric Gastroenterology - Professor Ian Sanderson, Professor Mark Beattie, Dr Rob Heuschkel to name but a few. We are indebted to him for his patience, perseverance and skills and as the first President of the British Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (BSPGHAN) ensuring that paediatric gastroenterology became the speciality it is today.


At this time of great anxiety, it is so important for everyone to appreciate the need for resilience in this time of the corona pandemic. It has been my experience over many years that children with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis do display remarkable resilience as they adjust to the unpredictable burden of inflammatory bowel disease.

In the early days of diagnosis I found that children and their parents often ask the question Why me? This question is more powerful in a society of general good health and improving infant mortality and longevity, as compared to the situation of a child living in a society where poverty and early death are common place. Furthermore, in a society where celebrities are so admired, I found young patients could initially be angry, when they were first diagnosed. But it was my experience that most children developed resilience and hope.

Now hope comes from improved knowledge and the hope for improvement in treatment. This is where CICRA and the vision of the parent founders comes in. These original parent founders realized that research gave hope to their children. I have noticed at the national CICRA open days that child patients are encouraged and even inspired when they hear about the research being done to help them. What we have already learned from the Covid-19 experience, is that the need for research is urgent and vital. This appreciation should be a great encouragement to CICRA and its supporters. We should be encouraged by the general recognition in society, that research is vital.

Since I first began to care for children there have been great advances in chronic inflammatory bowel disease, at first related to more accurate and precise diagnosis and then improvement in management with enteral nutrition and a range of new drug therapies.

So, in this time of corona, we need both resilience and hope. The children of CICRA and their supporters, by their example, can show society at large how important these qualities are. Then I believe the general appreciation of the importance of medical research may inspire you all to even greater activity at a time when charity giving is more generally difficult.

John Walker-Smith
Life President of CICRA

We thank John, on behalf of all parents of children with IBD for his dedication and continued interest in the children and their progress. We hope to see him at future CICRA Family Days, once the world gets back to normal.