It’s almost five years since the Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust was founded and the Scottish charity has had many successes in that short period of time.
So many, in fact, that its founder Craig Stobo hosted a reception in Glasgow recently to thank everyone for their support.
The last time we met Craig, in September 2017, he was fighting to change the Scottish Government’s mind on launching a public awareness campaign.
He successfully did that and the Scottish Government funded a £70,000, month-long campaign in February this year.
While the results are still being analysed, it was a victory for a small Scottish charity which receives very little funding – despite the fact sepsis remains one of the country’s biggest killers.
The successful radio, print and social media campaign reached more than 1.3 million people across the country.
Every community pharmacy in Scotland displayed posters warning of the signs of sepsis and materials were also displayed in GP surgeries and hospitals.
For Craig and the FEAT team, it was the publicity they had long hoped for – as their main mission is to raise awareness of the condition.
However, the charity is not content to rest on its laurels and has rebranded, just in time for the fifth anniversary in May.
It has also launched a new social media awareness campaign, with a short video highlighting the danger signs to look out for.
While awareness is still a key priority for the charity, research is also needed to fight the condition.
Craig said: “When the charity was established in May 2013, our main aim was to raise awareness of one of the biggest killers in the UK.
“There is no doubt that public awareness of sepsis is far better now than it was back then but there’s always more to do.
“Mortality rates from sepsis have fallen by 21 per cent since 2012 but we still need more research to better understand the condition.
“The existing treatments do not work for everyone and we simply don’t know why.
“We also don’t know exactly how many people are diagnosed with sepsis every year in Scotland or the UK.
“In the mid-term, we want to fund more research so we can get a better understanding of sepsis.
“And, in the long term, if we get a Euromillions win or a large cash injection, we’d like to create a Scottish sepsis register.
“I think we could do that in Scotland first as we are ahead of the rest of the UK in terms of how we are dealing with the condition.
“That would help us build up a far better picture of how many people are affected.”
The charity also funds its own research projects.
In the past three years, it has distributed almost £60,000 in funding.
One project is currently being spearheaded by Dr Malcolm Sim, a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow.
Dr Sim’s study aims to better define just how many people get sepsis and what happens to them subsequently.
Craig said: “This will help the NHS and scientists get a better idea of the scale and impact of sepsis.
“They can then target resources to help reduce the burden of sepsis.”
New FEAT business cards have also been designed for the fifth anniversary, detailing the symptoms people should look out for.
Craig, who lost his wife Fiona and unborn daughter Isla to sepsis in August 2012, is chairman of the charity.
He also raises the couple’s son Robert (7) while working as a tax consultant.
But despite his busy workload, he remains as committed to FEAT today as he was when he first launched it in May 2013.
And he is hoping that the success of the 2018 public awareness campaign can be replicated next year.
He said: “The more people are aware of sepsis, the better chance we have of raising money to fund research into the condition.
“Awareness and research go hand in hand which is why we rebranded – to ensure people realise that we also fund research.
“The Sottish Government public awareness campaign was a pilot project.
“The results are now being analysed so we can determine what works and how effective the campaign was in delivering the awareness message.
“Our aim is to try to prevent a far bigger sepsis crisis in the future.
“We can only do that by raising more awareness and finding out as much as we possibly can about sepsis.
“But, to do that, we need to secure more funding.
“We hope the campaign will be replicated again next year to enable us to achieve our goals.”
Meantime, FEAT is hoping that its new social media video will save even more lives.
Craig added: “We’ve had a few quick wins in the last five years – there’s definitely more awareness, quicker diagnoses and more research being done.
“But as one of the only charities funding research, there’s always more to do – there’s a long way to go.
“However, we’re hoping our new social media video will help spread the word even more.
“We’ve learned lessons from previous campaigns and the new video is short and to the point – highlighting the five key symptoms of sepsis.
“There are undoubtedly people who are alive today because of our previous video – we’re hoping this will have an even bigger impact.”
FEAT will also once again run its Sock it to Sepsis campaign this September to coincide with World Sepsis Day. People are encouraged to wear red and white socks to help raise awareness and funds for research.
The charity has reached incredible feats in its first five years. What it achieves in the next five could be even more life-changing.
To find out more, visit the charity’s website at www.featuk.org.uk.
Craig was inpsired by his wife and daughter to launch Scottish charity
In the space of 62 hours, Craig Stobo lost his unborn baby daughter, his wife and almost his own life to sepsis.
He has spent the years since trying to raise better awareness – both with the public and medical professionals – through the charity he set up in his wife’s memory, the Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust (FEAT).
In August 2012, Craig, his wife Fiona – who was at that time a GP in Bo’ness – and their two-year-old son Robert were looking forward to a new family arrival.
They moved into a new home in Edinburgh, where the flat’s previous owner had a dog with a flea infestation. Craig and Fiona were subsequently bitten.
Fiona diagnosd Craig with sepsis and quickly got him to Edinburgh’s Western Hospital where he started treatment on Thursday, August 23, 2012.
But the following day, Fiona – who was 35 weeks pregnant at the time – was taken ill.
Craig said: “She was diagnosed and treated very quickly at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.
“But one of the midwives called me late that Friday night to tell me our daughter Isla had died in the womb.
“The doctors battled all day Saturday to save Fiona’s life but she died at 1.50am on the Sunday from multiple organ failure caused by sepsis.
“In 62 hours, I lost my daughter, my wife and almost my own life to the condition – it’s brutal.”