Sunday, 18 November 2012

Catriona Moore

Catriona Moore gives the phrase "unlocking potential" a whole new meaning. She is mum to five-year-old Amy who suffers from Rett Syndrome, a neurological disorder caused by a faulty gene that prevents the brain from communicating with the body and means her daughter cannot make any "purposeful" movements. Although Amy's brain is completely normal, she is unable to make the right connections with her own body - and thus neither with the outside world.  So Retts is a form of locked-in syndrome as communication - as well as walking, even eating and breathing - is severely impaired. 

"Unlocking potential" is a big theme in the world of personal and professional development, talent and human resources management, etc.  It's big business too. And in the world of professional services firms, where services are generally delivered through people, it is particularly key. Indeed it's a recurring theme in the conversations I have with law firm managers as I go about my business (and the subject of a book launching this month that I will be blogging about next week). But when Catriona told me the story of her beautiful little daughter Amy, how she worried when her development seemed so far behind her little friends, and became distressed when a number of the motor and other skills she was just mastering at about 18-months-old then actually started to recede - and the devastation that came with the knowledge the cause was Rett....I started to think about unlocking human potential in a whole new light.

We met at the third annual Reverse Rett London event to raise money for research into this devastating disease.  Catriona was one of the speakers.

"Rett Syndrome affects about 1 in 10,000 girls." Catriona tells me.  "Grief is something that's usually associated with death, with loss. Our little girl was alive. And yet in that traumatic period leading up to her diagnosis, we felt like we'd lost her. We were grieving for the loss of the girl we thought Amy was. The loss of our hopes and dreams for the sort of family we thought we'd be. As parents, the loss of peace of mind."

"But there is real hope and that is what we all focus on. A cure is tantalisingly close: the year Amy was born, 2007, an experiment on mice managed to reverse the disease entirely. We know that if the same applies when the treatment is given to humans, we really will be able to "unlock" our daughter's potential!

Catriona's husband, Amy's dad, is legal journalist and friend Eduardo Reyes, hence my invite to the dinner. The event was staged to raise funds to take this research to human clinical trials. "It is not just about preventing the disease to save the children of the future" Catriona insists. "The wonderful hope of this research is the potential to release children and others who are suffering today.  The disease was completely reversed in the mice trial.  We know Amy's brain is fine in itself - we had a scan recently - so if she could just be released from the Syndrome, she could finally lead a normal, care-free life! And if we can raise the funding, clinical trials could start in only two or three years. If we had the opportunity, we would sign Amy up for trials next week!" Rarely have I been to a charity fund-raiser where the possibility of reaching the end-goal, in this case a cure and means of reversing the condition for today's sufferers, was so tangible.  I was moved.

@joannaMG22 was also at the dinner and together with @edreyesjourno the three of us are now cooking up an idea for a legal Rett fundraiser. Could we persuade firms to donate just a small percentage of their talent management budgets maybe?? Do pass the word around. And watch this space for further details. But don't wait to donate! Click here to make a donation now.


Now that we can all play journalist in the new social media age, perhaps we need to take on some integrity points from the journalist tradition. Hardly a week passes without a story of an enthusiastic tweeter or blogger falling foul of defamation and other laws. 

Mark Leach at Weightmans put it well this week when he said on BBC London radio (nice placement Sophie!): "Now that we've got all these new toys to play with, all these social media websites, we will all get used to them in time I'm sure.  We'll grow up a bit in due course and get a bit more mature about them - use them with more respect. It's just that it might take a decade or so to get there!" Mark is an employment lawyer and he's noticed a sharp rise in cases relating to inappropriate comments on social media in the workplace. 

Of course we can all hope for a more mature attitude to social media use to emerge, but in the meantime any reputational damage done by irresponsible tweeters and bloggers is not so easily undone, whatever legal remedy is thrown at it. As Lord McAlpine put it, "There's a British proverb that's insidious and awful, that there's no smoke without fire. This is the legacy [this incident] has left me with." A very good point well made, and this from a man who certainly throwing a few legal remedies around as well.

Stocking fillers for the lawyer in your life. As we count down to Christmas (only 36 shopping days left!) The Conversation will offer some helpful gift suggestions for the lawyer in your life who has everything.

This week's recommendation is a book by one of our most favourite court reporters, The Evening Standard's Paul Cheston. "Court Scenes: The Art of Priscilla Coleman" studies the depictions of courtroom drama created by this iconic court artist who has worked for some 20 years for the likes of ITN and many of our daily papers.

Restricted from drawing in court, (along with any attempt at photography or other visual representation) court artists can only take brief written notes and then have to create the drawings afterwards from memory - and at high speed to make the daily press deadlines. Paul is one of the most experienced court reporters around and he covered many of the same cases as Priscilla. His commentary accompanying her sketches makes the book a particular delight. You can buy it here.

Some of the most famous trials are depicted - Rosemary and Fred West, Ian Huntley, The Hutton Inquiry, the 21/7 bombers and the moment Heather Mills-McCarthy poured a jug of water over her ex-husband's lawyer Fiona Shackleton. Priscilla's drawings have created many of the enduring mental images we store away in our memory banks about these high profile court stories. You will enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment