Meet Simon, one of our new Research Champions

In this blog, we hear from Simon Andrew, a volunteer Research Champion who joined us in July 2023. Our Research Champions are people with lived experience of Crohn’s or Colitis who work on a named research project, attending meetings to share their views and experiences, as well as representing the Crohn’s and Colitis community.

This helps to ensure that the patient voice is central throughout the project, so that the outcomes of the research meet the needs of people with the conditions. You can read more about our Research Champions programme here.

Hi, I’m Si. Or Simon if you prefer. Maybe even Simon Marcus Andrew if a) you’re my mum, b) I’m 12 years old again, and c) I’ve just kicked the football at the greenhouse.

In my defence, it didn’t happen that often.

This is a short blog about me and why I chose to become a Research Champion for Crohn’s & Colitis UK. If you’re not familiar with what a Research Champion is, bear with me and I’ll cover that on the way. And who knows, you might even decide that you’d like to get involved with research too.

The me bit

Back to 12-year-old me. I grew up loving sport – football, badminton, athletics, you name it. I’d stay down the park until it was too dark to see. Then cycle home with friends, with the endless energy that only kids have.

As I got older, my fascination has moved from the physical side of life to the mental. I still love a good run, maybe even a game of squash, but I found psychology at 16 and that’s influenced my career ever since.

You see, I spend my days helping organisations solve problems through better understanding their employees. And that means taking time to speak to them:

  • They want to attract more people to work for them? I speak to the existing folk about why they work there. Then use those insights to show candidates why they might want to join.
  • They want to know how best to invest in culture? I speak to their people about where the business needs to improve and what they would like to see. Then use that to find improvements that work for the business and the employees.

In fact, I’ve been running focus groups, creating surveys, conducting interviews for many years. All to try and connect the end user with the people making the decisions.

Why you might ask? Because it makes for truly better decisions.

It’s easy to make assumptions about a problem and create the solution you think people want. And it happens a lot – because it’s quicker and cheaper. But it’s totally different to speak to the people affected and understand that problem in a way you never did before. You actually get to the heart of the challenge, and find a way to tackle it that can bring much more impact.

Which brings me onto my role with Crohn’s & Colitis UK.

Simon Andrew 

Research Champion

Being a Research Champion

Last year I was told I had Crohn’s disease. Something hadn’t been right for a long time, but it took a spell in A&E to get it diagnosed.

It's strange learning you have a new challenge in your life that will be with you for the rest of your days – and it takes some getting used to. But I genuinely felt I learnt so much from the pages of this site, thanks to Crohn’s & Colitis UK.

A few months later, I saw an advert for a Research Champion. The opportunity to get involved in research and help people explore the real problem by working with the end users – people like me. All contributing to bettering our understanding and bettering our solutions.  

It felt like the ethos I’ve carried through my work for years, aligned to a cause that means so much to me. It felt like a calling.

The you bit

The point of research is to get a better grasp of the real lived experience of the people living with Crohn’s or Colitis, all in aid of creating better support, better medication, and improving their quality of life.

There’s a group of us Research Champions trying to give what we can, but there’s many other opportunities to get involved. In fact, you can head on over to our research pages to see if there’s a project you’d like to give some time to.

That’s it

And so there we have it. A bit about me, and why becoming a Research Champion was so important.

So, you’ll be pleased to know I’ve stopped breaking greenhouses and started trying to do some good. And even my mum is calling me Si these days.

And as with the Crohn’s & Colitis UK mission, I hope we’ll one day be in a world free from Crohn’s and Colitis. Until then, I want to do my bit to help improve the lives of those that are living with the conditions.

Want to get involved in research?

The best quality research happens when people with Crohn’s and Colitis are involved, and you can make a difference at every stage of research.


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We know it can be difficult to live with, or support someone living with these conditions. But you’re not alone. We provide up-to-date, evidence-based information and can support you to live well with Crohn’s or Colitis.

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