A heartfelt farewell - Jim Elliott, Public Involvement Specialist and the HRA's former Public Involvement Lead

Last updated on 3 Apr 2024

We wish a very happy retirement to Jim Elliott and send him our heartfelt thanks for the incredible work he has done to make public involvement front and centre of everything we do at the HRA.

Jim Elliott

Jim has worked tirelessly as an advocate for patients in research throughout his long and illustrious career in health research management, which has spanned four decades.

He has always been passionate about involving patients and the public in health research to make sure that studies recognise what is important to patients and their families, and that they have their best interests at heart.

Jim has been an integral part of our team from the outset.

He joined us 11-and-a-half years ago as our Public Involvement Lead just after the HRA was formed, and has played a significant role in our journey over the last decade – leading on the co-development of our first ever public involvement strategy, acting rapidly in the pandemic to create the UK COVID-19 public involvement matching service, and paving the way for our Shared Commitment to public involvement, to name just a few of the things he’s been instrumental in guiding over the line.

Jim has brought so much professional and lived experience to his role at the HRA which has invaluably shaped how we involve the public in our work. His passion, influence and infectious enthusiasm for everything to do with public involvement can be deeply felt across the wider health and social care research landscape.

Although Jim officially retired from the HRA at the end of March 2024, he will continue to advocate for public involvement in health and social care research through a number of other roles.

We wish Jim the very best for his retirement, and we look forward to continuing his legacy as we work to make sure people are always put first in health and social care research.

A headshot of Dr Matt Westmore

As we mark the retirement of Jim we reflect on his unparalleled legacy. Jim's dedication to weaving the voices and influence of patients and the public into the fabric of research has not only transformed our approach but has also set a global standard for public involvement.

His tireless efforts have ensured that research is not just about people, but done with people, making it more relevant, ethical, and impactful. We will miss Jim at the HRA, the world of public involvement will miss him, but we will enjoy the fruits of his work for years to come.

Matt Westmore, Chief Executive, HRA
Becky Purvis.jpg

Jim often tells me that he fell into his job slightly by accident, but it was a very happy accident for us all! We recently looked at the plans that Jim set out in 2013 for the HRA’s role in public involvement. He has delivered against them and then some.

He leaves behind a four-strong team and an organisation that places public involvement at its heart. Not to mention his role in changing the way that we all think about and do research – public involvement is not a nice to have, its key in helping us to do better research and we will continue to work to make public involvement in research the norm. That is an impressive legacy. On top of all that, he has been a fantastic colleague, bringing wisdom, challenge, a wish to share insights and perspectives and a willingness to get stuck into the trickiest discussions. I value his perspectives and his pragmatism and he can be reassured that we will all continue to think ‘what would Jim say’!

Becky Purvis, Director of Policy and Partnerships, HRA

We're also delighted to share some messages and well wishes from people who have worked with Jim during his time with us.

Head and shoulders photo of Simon Denegri

If there were a 'brains of the operation' for what we now call public involvement I think Jim might have been it.

Many of us across public involvement and beyond have benefited from his considered approach to, and encyclopaedic knowledge of, public involvement over the years. Or had the pleasure of working alongside him in his role as patient leader and practitioner.

I can't think of a better legacy of his passion and commitment to public involvement than what he has created at the HRA - a regulator that is now surely a global exemplar of how all health research and care regulators should partner with the public. Well done Jim! I will forever be grateful for your generosity of time and enthusiasm over the years. Very best wishes for your retirement.

Simon Denegri, Executive Director, Academy of Medical Sciences
A headshot of Jeremy Taylor smiling

Jim, you are the consummate public involvement specialist: passionate, knowledgeable, experienced, wise and above all a thoroughly nice guy. I have really enjoyed working with you over the last few years, and hope that our paths will continue to cross.

Jeremy Taylor, Director for Public Voice, NIHR
A medium close-up shot of Roger Wilson.

I have known and worked with Jim over more than 20 years, first meeting him when he was Macmillan’s Head of Research. He set up an advisory Board, chaired by Professor Sir Ken Calman and with some clever people on it, including Professor Dame Jessica Corner when she was unknown. Fun meetings, hearing wisdom from a true great as well as us younger mortals thinking through the issues.

We have spoken at conferences, shared meetings, worked together as co-authors, commented on projects from differing viewpoints, often agreeing, sometimes not, but always with respect and understanding and I have been moved by things he has said. I admire the consistency of his approach, issues thought through, rigorous without being academic, rooted in common sense, and visionary too. He can be a steady hand, a useful contrast with my more scattergun intuitiveness, and his ability to drop a new element into debate at the unexpected moment is wonderful. Hopefully we will keep working together.

Roger Wilson, CBE HonMD HonLLD
A headshot of Louise Vale, close up

Thank you, Jim, for inspiring and inviting me to get involved. It has always been fun working with you. Most of all, thanks for everything you have done and continue to do to push forward the case for public involvement in research. Where would we be without you? We are all very grateful for the impetus you have given us.

Very best wishes for your well-earned retirement.

Louise Vale, Public Contributor
An image of research patient advocate Margaret Grayson

Jim, it has been a privilege to work alongside you on many public involvement platforms, since around 2012.

Thank you for your passion about the importance of public involvement that brings value to both patients and the NHS. You have always been willing to share your vast knowledge, expertise, future thinking and words of wisdom. Your vision in relation the Shared Commitment and the fact we have just celebrated the 2nd anniversary! Enjoy all you have planned to do and especially cycling around Wales and much further afield - you might even stretch as far as Belfast!!

Margaret Grayson, Public Partner
a photo of lynn laidlaw smiling

I met Jim on Twitter and became involved in the HRA’s Public Involvement Network through him. Jim has been a source of information, support and allyship since then. He understands the values and principles inherent to Involvement and has been generous in sharing his time and expertise with me. I feel privileged to know Jim and hope you have a long and happy retirement.

Lynn Laidlaw, Patient Contributor and researcher
Back to news and updates