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The Duke of Edinburgh welcomes guests to reception at Buckingham Palace as charity patron

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His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh welcomed around 100 guests to a royal reception at Buckingham Palace in aid of Action Medical Research.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who celebrated 60 years as patron of the UK-wide children’s charity in 2015, hosted celebrity ambassadors Davina McCall and Dr Dawn Harper in the palace’s picture gallery on Wednesday, 4 May, along with medical professionals, scientists and business leaders.

Professor David Edwards, a member of Action Medical Research’s Scientific Advisory Panel, spoke about the importance of medical research and the charity’s work to save and change the lives of sick and disabled babies and children.

There was also the chance for guests to learn about research projects currently being funded by the charity, including a study by Professor Mark Johnson, of Imperial College London, into delaying early labour.

Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely every year in the UK.1-5 Tragically, around 1,200 of these babies die4-6 and many others who survive a very early birth develop lifelong disabilities.

Treatment with a hormone called progesterone can reduce a woman’s risk of giving birth early, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Professor Johnson is investigating whether combination treatment with progesterone and a medicine called aminophylline works better. His ultimate goal is to stop so many babies from being born too soon, save their lives and improve their health – both at birth and throughout their lives.

Dr Adeline Ngoh and Dr Manju Kurian, from University College London, also spoke about their work to tackle Landau Kleffner syndrome, a rare condition that robs children of their ability to talk and understand speech, and Professor David Sharp, of Imperial College London, and Professor Faraneh Vargha-Khadem shared details of their study looking at whether sophisticated scans could provide valuable extra information on what sort of damage a head injury has caused to a child’s brain, and the possible consequences of that damage.

Also sharing information on their research with the Duke of Edinburgh and his guests were Dr Pablo Lamata, from King’s College London, who has begun a study to help improve surgery for newborn babies with a life-threatening heart disease called hypoplastic left heart syndrome; Dr Maggie Woodhouse OBE, of Cardiff University, who hopes to discover more about how bifocals improve the vision of children with Down syndrome and their ability to explore the world around them; and Dr Chris Babbs and Dr Noémi Roy, of the University of Oxford, who are searching for genes for inherited anaemia in the hope of giving more children an exact diagnosis.

“We are delighted and honoured that His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh hosted this event to allow a few of the dozens of researchers we are currently funding to share details of their inspiring work,” says Phil Hodkinson, Action Medical Research’s Chair.

“Medical research for children is underfunded in the UK. For every project the charity funds there’s another one we have to turn away – simply because of a lack of funds.

“There are hundreds of thousands of children in the UK whose lives are devastated by disease and disability. It’s too many. Far too many. We need support to fund vital research to develop new treatments and cures for sick babies and children which is why events like these are so important to show the vital work Action Medical Research is doing.”

For more than 60 years Action Medical Research has helped pioneer treatments and ways to prevent disease that have benefited millions of people in the UK and across the world. Research they’ve funded has helped to beat polio in the UK, develop ultrasound in pregnancy, fight meningitis and prevent stillbirths.

Action Medical Research is currently funding research into premature birth, meningitis, Down syndrome and epilepsy, as well as some rare and distressing conditions that severely affect children. For more details on the UK-wide children’s charity, please visit

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To download high-res images of His Royal Highness and researchers and guests at the event, click on the links below (please credit Colin Baldwin):

HRH Prince Philip welcoming guests to Buckingham Palace:   

Davina McCall, the charity's celebrity ambassador, with guests at the palace: 

Dr Dawn Harper speaking to researchers funded by Action Medical Research: 



  1. WHO Preterm birth. Fact sheet No 363. Updated November 2014. Website accessed 12 May 2015.
  2. Office for National Statistics. Births in England and Wales, 2013. Table 1. Website accessed 12 May 2015.
  3. Births in Scottish Hospitals. Year ending 31st March 2013. Publication date – 26th August 2014. Table 1. Table 5 Website accessed 12 May 2015.
  4. Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Births. Live births 1887-2014. Website accessed 2 December 2015.
  5. Office for National Statistics Gestation-specific Infant Mortality, 2012. Table 3 Live births, neonatal and infant mortality by birthweight and gestational age at birth, Website accessed 12 May 2015.
  6. Office for National Statistics. Correction notice. Child mortality statistics 2013. Table 6. Website accessed 12 May 2015.



For more information on Action Medical Research, please contact Ellie Evans, Fundraising Communications Officer, on:

T 01403 327480



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Action Medical Research is a leading UK-wide charity saving and changing children’s lives through medical research. For more than 60 years we’ve helped pioneer ways to prevent disease and develop treatments benefiting millions of people. Our research has helped to beat polio in the UK, develop ultrasound, fight meningitis and prevent stillbirths. But we urgently need to develop more new treatments and cures for sick babies and children and we can’t do it without you.

Join our fight for little lives today.

Charity reg. nos 208701 and SC039284.