David Ward has been a member of the National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD) since he entered the world in March 1946. He shares his memories of the cohort, as well as a neat memory trick that saw him through his most recent examination by the study.
My name is Linda Clark. I live at 59 Meadow Close, Milford, Surrey.
No it isn’t and no I don’t. I still have enough memory left to realise that my name is actually David Ward and that I live in Bollington, Cheshire, though I can’t guarantee that I will be able to remember either fact this time next week.
In the first week of March 2016, over 5000 people who have taught us a great deal about life are turning 70. These are the ‘Douglas babies’: members of the MRC National Survey of Health and Development cohort study who have been improving medical research since they entered the world, and Dr James Douglas’ cohort, in 1946. Chair of the NSHD Steering Committee Professor John Frank, NSHD Director Professor Diana Kuh and her predecessor Emeritus Professor Michael Wadsworth, discuss this life project and wish them a very happy 70th.
Each year everybody in the cohort receives a birthday card. (Image: UCL Creative Media Services)
It is not often in life that one can wish several thousand people “Happy Birthday” all at once. It is even rarer to be able to say to them all: Thanks… very much… for your sterling, lifelong contributions to medical science.
NSHD is the longest continually-studied birth cohort in the history of science and we are getting ready to celebrate the cohort’s 70th ‘birthday week’. Thanks to the generosity of participants, more is being discovered now than ever before about what factors, from early life onwards, contribute to the risk of the commonest diseases of later life.