23 Mar 2022
Dr Elizabeth Weekes is a retired Consultant Dietitian at Guy's & St Thomas NHS and Foundation Trust and retired Senior Clinical Lecturer at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Elizabeth was awarded a BDA Fellowship in 2022.
We asked what it means to have won the award.
What does it mean to you to have been awarded with the Fellowship honour?
I am honoured to have been awarded Fellowship of the BDA and humbled to be recognised in this way by my peers. It was a complete surprise to receive the letter informing me of the award and I sincerely thank those who nominated me.
What drove you to become a dietitian in the first place and be where you are today?
After a short spell in personnel management (now known as Human Resources) I re-trained as a dietitian in my late twenties. I wanted a career that would combine my love of science, my passion for food and my desire to work with patients. I recently retired from the NHS and academia after more than 30 years in a profession that has challenged and inspired me every day of my working life.
Who inspires you?
I have had the pleasure and privilege to work with so many inspiring colleagues that it is difficult to name those who have inspired me most. I shall always be grateful to Prof Marinos Elia for supporting me in my first research post at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge and for being one of my PhD supervisors. I have also been inspired by colleagues who share my passion for research that is firmly based in clinical practice.
In particular, I would like to mention my long-term collaborators Dr Christine Baldwin and Prof Peter Emery at King’s College London, but also my more recent collaborators, Prof Mary Hickson (Plymouth University) and Prof Jane Murphy (Bournemouth University) in the UK and Prof Marion van Bokhorst de van der Scheuren and Dr Hinke Kruizenga in the Netherlands.
Outside of work, my partner has supported and inspired me throughout my career and my two daughters keep me well-grounded with their idiosyncratic sense of humour and wise advice.
What advice would you give to future dietitians?
Listen to your patients and their carers, and question what you are doing and why you are doing it. As dietitians we are ideally placed to improve the nutritional care of our patients, whether it be through an individualised intervention, clinical audit, service evaluation or research. Dietetics has much to offer as a career so make the most of any opportunities that come your way.
What has been the highlight of your dietetic career to date?
There have been many highlights in my career, from completing my PhD to presenting at international conferences. However, the most rewarding aspect of my job has always been working with and supporting others as they take their first steps into research. Watching my students and junior colleagues flourish and develop their own areas of knowledge and expertise has always provided me with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction.