Wakefield Fellowship brings hope to sufferers of stroke

12 December 2019

New developments in rehabilitation research from the University of Canterbury (UC)’s Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research has been made possible thanks to the generosity of Jim and Dr Susan Wakefield.

  • Rose_Centre_NWS

    Staff and students of UC’s Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research

Maggie-Lee Huckabee_NWS

Professor Maggie-Lee Huckabee and research biomedical engineer Esther Guiu Hernandez testing the Rose Centre’s BiSSkiT software, the first project under the new Wakefield Fellowship.

New developments in rehabilitation research from the University of Canterbury (UC)’s Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research has been made possible thanks to the generosity of Jim and Dr Susan Wakefield.

A state-of-the-art facility based in St George’s Hospital, the UC Rose Centre brings relief to those affected by swallowing disorders brought on by stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses.

Staff at the Rose Centre help patients recover function sufficiently to gain the best possible quality of life, while encouraging them to take an active role in the development of rehabilitation strategies for themselves and future patients.

The Rose Centre is supported largely through philanthropic funding and as the centre enters its fifth year, students and staff are grateful for the support of a number of donors. It’s a measure of the confidence donors have in the work of students and staff at the Rose Centre that they have chosen to give so generously. And the Wakefield family’s donation, forming a fellowship in their name, will make a significant impact on the Centre’s research moving forward.

Professor of Communication Disorders at UC, Maggie-Lee Huckabee is the Director of the Rose Centre. “The Jim and Susan Wakefield Fellowship will provide continuity of biomedical engineering excellence to our development research programme in medical technology,” she says.

“This will allow us to not only move our treatment software forward to an app that can be used by patients at home, but will allow us to develop several other devices that are currently in early stages of development, all of which support diagnosis and treatment of swallowing impairment. Ultimately, this funding ensures our rehabilitation research makes it into practice to directly impact health outcomes of patients with stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other illness.“

The Wakefield family has strong ties to UC with both Jim and Susan, their son Steve, daughter Wendy, and grandsons Andrew and Chris all graduating from the University with a Bachelor of Commerce.

Dr Susan Wakefield went on to earn her PhD from UC before becoming the founding chair of the University’s charitable arm, The University of Canterbury Foundation and receiving an Honorary Doctorate in 2006. Son Steve Wakefield is now Pro-Chancellor of UC.

With his parents having experienced the effects of stroke and Parkinson’s first hand, Steve Wakefield felt it was important a donation in Jim and Susan’s name be made to the Rose Centre in their lifetime.

“I have been very impressed to learn more about the work of the Rose Centre, a “best kept secret” of UC, and how it makes a real difference to the lives of those people who suffer strokes and other disabilities that cause swallowing disorders,” Steve says

“Our family is very pleased to support the ongoing work of the Rose Centre, which we believe to be world-class.”

For Professor Huckabee the impact of this gift, alongside support from other donors, is just as meaningful as the original donation from Mrs Shirley Rose, and ‘thank you’ is not enough.

“I wish there was some way to say thank you that was well beyond words, and would have the Wakefield family really understand the impact of their generosity. This is work-changing for us; life changing for those we provide care for. We will make every dollar count.”


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