PIER Prize with PERFORM for Maisie Ward

20 May 2021

Ponteland High’s Y13 student, Maisie Ward, is an integral part of PIER prize with PERFORM


PERFORM is a study conducted by doctors from Newcastle RVI in conjunction with young people; its aim is to develop new molecular diagnostic tests for childhood fevers (to help differentiate the cause of fevers and identify which children are at risk of serious invasive infections). This project has been in the making for over 4 years and I have been collaborating with the team of researchers for over 9 months. My involvement has included: 

  • discussing deferred consent
  • reviewing consent forms
  • planning the delivery of the research project.

This resulted in the PERFORM study receiving National Ethics Committee approval and being presented at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) annual conference. This project also used innovative approaches to incorporate young people in every aspect to provide a template for future research which promotes a pro-research culture. 


I felt honoured to have taken part in this research as it had a meaningful outcome and the medical professionals listened and valued my comments. This helped shape the way the study was structured and designed, for example, the consent forms were re-written over 3 times! This opportunity has developed my professional skills and my confidence has improved, as  I was encouraged to engage in the study and I felt like a valued member of the team. 


PERFORM was the winner of the PIER prize 2021. The PIER prize (Paediatric Involvement and Engagement in Research) presented by the RCPCH, is ‘designed to recognise multidisciplinary research teams who make an outstanding contribution, which involves paediatric patients and their families in the development and delivery of research.’ This award recognises the achievements of young people who have engaged in and co-produced pediatric research to promote innovative methods of study delivery. This award is presented at the RCPCH Conference and Exhibition.


I became involved with PERFORM through the Young Person’s Advisory Group North England (YPAGne). YPAGne is a group of young people aged between 13 and 18 who meet monthly to discuss Pediatric research with a professional research team, working collaboratively on a project. YPAGne gives researchers the opportunity to gain a young person's perspective on their research project and make changes to their study before it is presented to the ethics committee. Throughout the pandemic, regular monthly meetings continued via Zoom, which included whole group discussion and small break-out room focus groups. YPAGne has contributed to 156 research projects in total! My favourite part of YPAGne was that I quickly felt welcome and was able to share my opinions and thoughts; everyone in the team was kind and very appreciative of any advice others contributed. 


This project has enabled me to gain invaluable experience that will be a great benefit to me in my next steps and has also been a lot of fun! I plan on studying Medicine at the University of Dundee in September and my participation in this project has inspired me to pursue a career in medicine. My involvement with YAGne has been a great benefit in writing my personal statement and preparing medical school interviews.  






Want to get involved? https://sites.google.com/nihr.ac.uk/ypagne/home?authuser=0 


Nattering with the NHS podcast

Nattering with the NHS is a monthly podcast hosted by young people for young people. It consists of interviewing a professional who works in the NHS to give careers advice to young people interested in studying medicine. This was born from the pandemic; during YAGne meetings we recognised that young people were missing out on valuable work experience and therefore struggling to make informed choices about their future. The first pilot episode was an interview with Tara Reeves, a speciality training level 1 doctor who discussed her work and “typical” work day, including the best things about her job and how she chose her university course.


My involvement through volunteering with YPAGne largely involved the maintenance and supervision of the social media accounts including advertising up-coming episodes and recording any questions asked during the live stream. A group of 6 young people built the podcast completely from scratch including designing the logo, coming up with the name and finding guests. 


The next episode will be held on Wednesday 26 May, from 5.00-6.00pm and this includes an interview with Daniel Fabian, a research nurse at the GNCH. Common questions include: 

  • What kind of work experience did you do when you were younger? 
  • Did you always know you wanted a job in this field or was it by chance? 
  • What skills are important in your job? 

Episodes are live streamed on YouTube and questions can be asked live through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.


Want to listen to the podcast? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Vn6BAoI7K0 



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Ponteland High School