By Carol Bewick, Director of Membership Engagement, AMRC

Published 19 December 2023

In the words of the late, great John Lennon, “And so this is Christmas, and what have we done? Another year over...”

Yes, it really is December – try as we might to convince ourselves it’s still the start of autumn and we have lots of time to do all those things we really must get done before the end of the year – the closing working days of 2023 are upon us.

What an incredible year it has been! Busy, busy, busy has been the order of the day for all of us. I started to compile a list of achievements and activities but they were too numerous to report back in a frivolous end of the year blog so let’s focus on some highlights.

Obviously hearing that an extra £50m was being added to the Early Career Researcher Fund was a major moment for AMRC and our fundraising members alike. Thank you for all your kind words and helping us show what an enormous impact that windfall has had on what you were able to deliver. Freeing up that money to go into research meant you could deliver so much more – and the UK got a more stable pipeline of new researchers. We all know that charities play a vital role in research in the UK and it is good to know that your role is starting to be understood more clearly by policy makers. One more time for those at the back – charities respond to patient priorities, tackle areas of unmet need and accelerate health impact.

Then of course we had the Festival of Partnerships. What can we say about that? Five months of shining a spotlight on the incredible collaborations you are involved in and getting the chance to bring together people who could help us work through the challenges of partnering to make it that bit easier. The team at AMRC really enjoyed getting to see so many of you and hearing your stories – as well as catching up with your news and forging introductions.

For the last few years, our regular refrain has been change in the political arena. This year we’ve been prepping for what’s next. A potential election and unknown faces on the scene are always challenging, but we rose to that challenge by working with you to get our manifesto pulled together and circulated to the main political parties as they prepare their electioneering strategies. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our manifesto became theirs...

We’ve not just been out in the spotlight this year, we’ve had big changes here too. We have many fresh faces in the team – if you haven’t met them yet I’m sure you will soon, and we’ve been settling into our new offices at the Royal College of Anaesthetists. Our landlords have made us feel so welcome and it's great to see some of our members moving in too!

The year was bookended with activities to remember Aisling Burnand. A memorial reception with her family was held early in the year and more recently you sent us some fabulous entries to the award launched in her name. Knowing Aisling, she would have loved every single one of the partnership videos you submitted.

No matter how much we do, there is never time to get complacent. Trying not to get ahead of ourselves, but next year should be equally exciting. We’ll be starting our strategic planning cycle so will be knocking on doors and popping into your inboxes to make sure we continue to provide the best service we can and prioritise what matters most to you and to the sector.

Meanwhile, to finish with more words from John Lennon, here’s wishing you “A very merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one...”