Debra Smith

I used to be quite memorable to people that met me – being tall (6 ft 1 in or 1.85 m), extrovert (quite loud, but friendly) and sporty. I was even considered quite clever in a nerdy, science type of way (i.e. I got O-levels, A-levels and a good degree, which I guess alludes to my age!)

My degree is in Mechanical Engineering, which shows that I’m quite stubborn and like to be a bit different (at least it did when I took my degree at Imperial College, London: 1986-1989). I had to gain industrial sponsorship, because I was a girl & went to an all-girl school. Thus I was sponsored by & initially worked in a Mechanical Engineering research labs in Leicester, before joining an engineering consultancy in Peterborough, because my elders & betters at the time said that research was not providing sufficient experience of “commercial” work. So I swapped tinkering and investigating (which I loved) for negotiating contracts / site management (which I liked a bit less / OK, I largely hated). Finally, the clouds parted and I was given the opportunity to work with Intellectual Property (no, I’d never heard of it either!) and I discovered the perfect mix between research (the fun bit, but less time consuming) and commerce (you helped gain valuable “property” for the poor researcher, who could add a defined value to those in the commercial world). This took me to London & then Bristol.

Now, this did involve 6-7 years more study, but I enjoyed it and I finally gained my post graduate qualifications in Intellectual Property law, which entitled me to a put a few more letters after my name! It also provided me with the the opportunity to use my less than proficient, but nonetheless modest skills in French & German. I also enjoyed my training so much that I’ve been a long term tutor helping new candidates to pass their European Qualifying Examinations (for patents).

During this period, I’ve played and help organise lots of team sports (best – worst); netball, basketball, tennis & football. So that’s the running-walking … what happens next?

In 2001/2002 we visited Sydney AUS, but then I kept falling over (impressive when you’re tall !) Then MRIs mid. 2002 & end 2003 + lots more tests and formally diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. Largely invisible until 2008/9 but then I started to need to use 1 stick, then 2 sticks, then crutches and now I use a walker indoors and a wheelchair outside. I still worked full-time until 2013, but partly from a home office and I took redundancy at the start of 2014 to set up my own company. This allowed me more flexibility, time for medical appointments and less stress (but I don’t half “work” some very peculiar hours now!) At the end of 2014 I was told that I was “transitioning to Secondary Progressive MS”.

So there you have it: Running-waking-falling-rolling & … (now ready for the new start!)

One thought on “Debra Smith

  1. Ivan Kilborn says:

    Hi Debbie, my names Ivan and I am a fellow Ms’r. I have designed something to help people with a problem common to MS, can I pick your brains on how to go further with the idea without it costing fortunes and without the risk of someone else doing it first, thanks for reading, Ivan

    Liked by 1 person

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