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iDx Lung bus raises research awareness at the Wickham Festival

Published: 9 August 2023
Three people by the research bus

You may not think that music festivals and clinical research go hand-in-hand.

But last weekend a team from the Wessex Clinical Research Network took the iDx Lung mobile research sampling unit to the Wickham Festival to spread the word about getting involved in research.


The team spent a wild four days - standing in every weather imaginable - to spread the #BePartOfResearch message.


Spreading the research message

Wickham Festival takes place every August in fields near the Hampshire village of Wickham and has its roots in folk and traditional music. The Guardian lists Wickham as a top “family friendly boutique festival” and local people agree - more than 7,000 attend every year.

So, this seemed an ideal opportunity for Wessex CRN to pilot their very first outreach event. And what better way than using the research bus that is currently part of our iDx Lung early diagnosis trial, showing people exactly where some of our community-based research is already taking place?

The research bus

“Music festivals are known for their laid-back vibe,” explains Clare Rook, Chief Operating Officer of Wessex Clinical Research Network. “People have the time to stop and chat and they’re in a relaxed frame of mind - so this seemed the ideal opportunity to spread awareness of the health and care research underway in the Wessex area.”

The idea to take the research bus to a music festival was dreamed up by Kirsty Gladas, our Senior Research Nurse Manager. She gathered research nurses, clinical trial assistants and other helpers to ensure we had enough wellies on the ground. It was a fantastic team building exercise and has given us many ideas moving forward.

“What we do is very serious - health and care research transforms and saves lives,” Kirsty said. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun promoting the message about taking part. Every study relies on people coming forward and we were amazed how receptive everyone was to this idea. So many people were happy to stop and talk to us - they went away understanding what we offer and feeling inspired - despite the rain and mud!”

Being part of research

To create an eye-catching display, the team transformed the research bus into the perfect festival pitch. Bunting, artificial grass, fairy lights, sail flag, giant deckchair - you name it, the bus had it! If that wasn’t enough to catch people’s attention, also on offer were glitter tattoos and a complimentary wave of our blue sponge hands.

People by the research bus

By far the greatest draw was an oversized selfie frame which the team hiked around the site, encouraging people to have their photo taken. This went down a storm and generated fantastic images to use across social media.

For anyone who signed up to there was a free tote bag filled with information and goodies.

Clare Rook, Chief Operating Officer of Wessex Clinical Research Network.  “We’ll be monitoring the data over the next couple of weeks to assess the event’s impact in driving sign ups. Joining the #BePartOfResearch database is the best way to hear about our health and care research studies, and mail outs are tailored to people’s interests, illnesses and conditions.”

Clinical Trials Assistant Michelle Just ran the project from start to finish. “I am so proud of what we’ve accomplished with this venture. I had a vision for how we could transform the bus, and it all came together beautifully. I’m so proud of how everyone got on board with the idea and loved seeing the public responding so well to our offer.”

The Wessex CRN team is now developing a programme of outreach events and wants to meet and engage with more of our local communities, spread the word and continue to boost the ongoing #BePartofResearch campaign.


Getting back to the day job – the iDx Lung study

While the research bus makes a wonderful festival hub to get the community engaged in research, its day-to-day job is to support the iDx Lung study.

iDx Lung is a ground-breaking research trial that aims to save lives by improving the early diagnosis of lung cancer by piloting new diagnostic tests.

The trial team are working alongside NHS England’s Targeted Lung Health Checks programme where people at high risk of lung cancer are invited to attend a CT scan in the mobile NHS scanning unit.

Over the last two years, people attending Lung Health Checks in Southampton, Portsmouth, Manchester and Yorkshire have been invited to take part in the trial. This involves giving a nasal swab and a blood sample. These samples are then analysed for changes that could indicate the early signs of cancer developing.

The aim of the trial is to determine whether using simple biological tests alongside the Targeted Lung Health Check programme can help increase diagnosis rates in people with the very early signs of lung cancer, so they can begin treatment quickly when it is far more likely to be successful.

Every year in the UK, 25,000 people are diagnosed with advanced, inoperable lung cancer, making it the biggest cause of cancer death in the UK and worldwide. Screening with CT scanning is being tested by the NHS and it is hoped the iDx Lung trial will not only drive-up early detection rates but will find more cost-effective ways to diagnose the disease.

The iDx Lung trial has been supported in Hampshire by the team from Wessex CRN who take the research bus to the sites where the Targeted Lung Health Check CT scanners are operating and collect the research samples from participants.


Find out more about the iDx Lung study and research bus.


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