Final funding to further lupus research

Updated: 18 Nov 2021

On 2 November, we visited Guy’s Hospital in London to hand a cheque of £29,000 to the Lupus Trust’s research team. The donation marks the final instalment of a major three-year funding partnership, which totalled £85,000.

In 2019, the Lupus Trust was chosen to receive support from the Society’s HA Andrews Memorial Fund.

CEO of the Oddfellows, Jane Nelson, and Chairman (Grand Master), David Ogden, were delighted to hand the cheque to Professor Jo Spencer and PHD student, Bekki Velounias.

I can’t tell you how much this funding has meant in helping us advance our understanding of lupus. Professor Jo Spencer

The funding directly supports the Trust’s research into understanding why the immune system in lupus patients becomes overactive, and how the processes may be reversed.

Lupus is a condition in which the body’s immune system malfunctions and attacks healthy tissue and organs. It is estimated that five million people globally have the condition.

Professor Jo Spencer and Bekki Velounias receiving the cheque from David Ogden and Jane Nelson
(L-R) Professor Jo Spencer and Bekki Velounias receiving the cheque from David Ogden and Jane Nelson.

The challenges of the pandemic restrictions have had a big impact on the direction of the research, as Bekki explained: “Going into the second year of this research and my PhD, I would normally be spending most of my time in the lab, however, in lockdown I had to stay at home like so many other workers. This meant the focus of my work became computer-based, analysing big data sets and learning to understand and write code. I was able to utilise this time at home to develop a skill that will really benefit my research in the future as well as advancing my understanding of lupus.”

Professor Jo Spencer talked about what the support meant for lupus research: “I can’t tell you how much this funding has meant in helping us advance our understanding of lupus. It’s also been so rewarding to see Bekki developing a skillset that will set her up for a successful career in research, and as a potential future lupus researcher.”

Jane Nelson, CEO of the Oddfellows, said: “It’s great to see Jo and Bekki face to face again. The commitment and passion for their research is very clear. It’s gratifying to know that the Oddfellows’ donation has helped to further the research into such a hidden and perplexing disease.”

About the Fund

The Lupus Trust is the most recent Oddfellows HA Andrews Memorial Fund beneficiary. Established in 1971, the Fund provides financial support to a project or organisation involved in, or conducting medical research in the UK. So far £1,114,000 has been donated, with previous recipients including the Alzheimer’s Society, the Stroke Association and the University of Bradford’s Plastic Surgery and Burns Research Unit.

The Fund is supported by donations from individuals and through fundraising by Oddfellows branches. Nominations for the next beneficiary have recently closed and the final decision on the recipient will be made at the Oddfellows' annual conference in May 2022.

The Oddfellows is one of the largest and oldest friendly societies in the UK, with 115 branches across the UK. Its members come together to enjoy a wide variety of local social events and regularly fundraise for good causes both locally and nationwide.

To find out more about the many ways in which we give back to good causes, visit our Giving Back section, where you can discover more about the range and variety of projects we've supported over the years.

To find out more about HA Andrews, how to make a donation or to suggest a recipient for a future Fund donation, please visit our HA Andrews Memorial Fund page.