Professor Walker said: “I am absolutely thrilled to receive this honour. It is just fantastic that the work of stroke rehabilitation research at The University of Nottingham has been recognised in this way. Improving the quality of life of stroke survivors is central to all our efforts.”
Professor Walker started her professional life as an occupational therapist, qualifying in1980 at the Glasgow College of Occupational Therapy and going on to become one of the first occupational therapists in the UK to be awarded a PhD. She received a College of Occupational Therapy Fellowship for pioneering a research culture within the profession. Her work was later recognised by her own peers when she was cited as one of the top 10 occupational therapists in the UK in the Independent on Sunday in 2002.
She came to Nottingham in 1983 to help establish one of the first stroke units in England, moving on to research in 1986 and working on a number of short-term research grants until securing her first University of Nottingham post in 1997 as Lecturer in Stroke Rehabilitation, a post funded by the Stroke Association. She became Professor of Stroke Rehabilitation just 10 years later in 2007.
Professor Walker has played a key role in influencing clinical guidelines on stroke care and rehabilitation and her current role at The University of Nottingham sees her heading up a £4 million programme of work in stroke rehabilitation implementing the research findings from four studies. She is also currently working on research projects worth a total of £10 million in stroke rehabilitation grants.
During her time at Nottingham, she has also played a key role in establishing The Nottingham Stroke Consumer Group, a unique partnership between academics and stroke survivors. Launched in partnership with Notts businessman Ossie Newell, who himself suffered a stroke in 1999, the group provides an innovative way for researchers to receive feedback with the aim of improving and developing stroke treatment by focusing research more closely on the needs of stroke patients.
Professor Walker is recognised for her expertise in stroke rehabilitation both nationally and internationally, demonstrated by her appointment as Associate Director for Rehabilitation for the UK Stroke Research Network (SRN) and her time serving as Chairman of the UK Stroke Forum from 2007 to 2009, a role which saw her leading a forum of UK stroke medics, nurses, therapists and other healthcare professionals with an interest in stroke and play a key role in launching the National Stroke Strategy with the Minister for Health. She is currently a trustee of the Stroke Association.
Professor Walker’s leadership in research was recognised by the invitation to give the Royal Stroke Lecture in 2009 at Kensington Palace and the Princess Margaret Memorial Lecture in 2010. She was also the first non-medic to be invited to give the opening plenary lecture of the Australasian Stroke Society and the only UK rehabilitation representative on the writing committee of the European Stroke Guidelines.
Last year saw Professor Walker undertake a visiting professorship at the University of Sydney from February 2011 to April 2011.
The Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, Professor David Greenaway said: “I have already contacted Professor Walker to pass on my warmest congratulations on this well-deserved honour, but I know other colleagues from around the University will also be delighted to hear this news.
“Professor Walker has made a tremendous contribution to research into stroke rehabilitation, much of which has placed the most important people — stroke patients themselves — at the heart of studies and the recommendations into improvements for their care.
“The University of Nottingham has recently recognised the importance of stroke rehabilitation by including it in our £150m Impact Campaign as one of our strategically important research priorities.”
Professor Walker has been celebrating the news of her honour with family and friends after having to keep the news under wraps for around six weeks after being contacted by the Cabinet Office back in November.
She is now waiting to find out when she will travel to Buckingham Palace to receive her medal.
The other Nottingham alumni who received New Years Honours were:
Professor Madeleine Atkins (PhD Education 1982), Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University, who was awarded a CBE for services to Higher Education; Professor Ruth Chambers (Medicine 1973; Medicine 1975; DM Medicine 1995), Clinical Director of Practice Development and Performance for NHS Stoke on Trent Clinical Commissioning Group, who received an OBE for services to Primary Care; Dr Andrew Kidd (Agricultural Sciences 1982), Deputy Head, Kabul Office, Department for International Development, who received an OBE; Dr Frank Newton (MSc Sports Medicine 1993) former Chairman, ISAF Medical Commission (1990-2000), who was awarded an OBE for services to sailing; Lynn Slinger (MEd Education 1989), headteacher of Forest Way Special School who received an OBE for services to education; John Huddleston (Chemistry/Physics 1974), lately Knowledge Leader and Project Director, AEA Technology, who received an MBE for services to the environment; and business man Rodney Hughes (MPhil Civil Engineering 1974) who was awarded an MBE for services to business in Newark, Nottinghamshire.
Find out more about the University’s Impact Campaign and how you can support Stroke Rehabilitation research at http://tiny.cc/UoNImpact
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘the world’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking 2011, a league table of the most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions.
The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia. Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. For more details, visit: www.nottingham.ac.uk/impactcampaign
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.
The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Award for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research on global food security.
More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news