Author Archives: Fifth Sense

Fifth Sense news has now moved to

Following the update of our main website at which now has its own ‘News’ page we will no longer be publishing posts on the site.

Please add to your bookmarks/favourites and visit us regularly.  If you are affected by a smell or taste related disorder and have not already become a Fifth Sense member then you can do so by emailing

You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.


Anosmia Awareness Day 2016 preview

Saturday 27th February is Anosmia Awareness Day and Fifth Sense is once again proud to be supporting this important date.

Anosmia Awareness Day was created by Daniel Schein in the US with the aim of raising awareness of a condition that, as we know, is ignored and marginalised, not least by the medical profession. Please visit the Anosmia Awareness Day Facebook page at

Fifth Sense has been supporting Anosmia Awareness Day for the last three years.  We hope it will continue to develop as an event that highlights the need for further research into olfactory disorders and also acts as a celebration of the importance of the sense of smell itself.

Let’s talk smell and taste

For 2016 we are releasing a video entitled ‘Let’s talk smell and taste’ that was filmed at our 2015 members conference by Fifth Sense member and volunteer Sarah Page.  It’s a short video consisting of interviews with people who attended the conference talking about why the senses of smell and taste are important and need more recognition.  There are some really insightful comments from the participants and the video gives us a powerful tool that we can use to help us make our case going forwards.  We’d like to take the opportunity to say a big thanks Sarah and everyone who was interviewed for the video.  It will go live on our website on Anosmia Awareness Day itself.

New Fifth Sense website

We’re also going to be launching our newly designed website in time for 27th February.  Not only has the site had a major visual makeover but it features new content, including more information on smell and taste disorders. We hope you’ll find it much easier to navigate too.  We will be continuing to update the site and add new content as the year goes on.

FlavorActiV CEO in fifth gear for Fifth Sense 

IMG_20160218_181424Richard Boughton, Chief Executive of our partners FlavorActiV, is a self-confessed car nut.  He has just embarked on the 2016 Winter Challenge Rally, driving his classic 1972 BMW 2002tii from Woodcote Park in Epsom to Monte Carlo over the next few days.  Richard decided to promote the partnership between FlavorActiV and Fifth Sense by having it emblazoned on his car.  Cars in the rally don’t generally feature any logos, but Richard is planning to use this as a conversation-starter with other drivers; as he said, you never know who you might end up talking to who may wish to support Fifth Sense in some way.  We’d like to thank Richard for this and we hope he’s first to the chequered flag!

How you can support Anosmia Awareness Day
FullSizeRenderWear red!  If you’re already familiar with Anosmia Awareness Day you may be aware that this is what people are asked to do.  If you decide to wear something red on Saturday then please take a photo and share it with us on twitter or Facebook.  Alternatively email it to us at and we’ll share it for you!

Last year Fifth Sense member Claire Mulligan got all her work colleagues involved (left).  It is of course happening on a Saturday this year which might make this a bit difficult for most people, although if anyone goes into work in the name of anosmia awareness we’ll be highly impressed!
(The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed that Richard’s BMW happens to be red – we’re reliably informed this is a coincidence and he hasn’t had it re-sprayed specially for the occasion…)

Donate!  As we did in 2015 we are taking donations that will be added to our research fund and used to support future research into smell and taste disorders.  If you’d like to make a donation you can do so between now and midnight on 5th March via our BT MyDonate page at

…and finally…
There’s another exciting piece of news that will be announced on Anosmia Awareness Day itself.  This will be published on our website and Facebook/twitter pages so please do visit us online on Saturday to look out for it!

Fifth Sense and FlavorActiV launch pioneering taste loss study

Fifth Sense and our partners FlavorActiV have begun a pioneering pilot study to test the abilities of taste and smell disorder sufferers in detecting the basic tastes (salt, sweet, sour, bitter, umami) in varying concentrations, and to determine if regular tasting can improve detection levels.

A group of volunteer Fifth Sense members, including people from the Netherlands and Australia, are being sent four rounds of blind samples and asked to identify which flavour is present. The results will be fed into FlavorActiV’s Taster Validation Scheme, where they will be analysed after each round by in-house sensory experts, who will then advise each participant to alter the concentration levels accordingly. It is hoped that volunteers will have improved, or categorically ruled out, their ability to detect the tastes as a result of this study.

FlavorActiV sent out packs containing the samples and instructions (see photo below) to the volunteers at the beginning of February for the first of four ’rounds’ of tasting.  The result of this pilot study will be published in summer 2016.

The findings will aid the development of a take home Taste Kit for self-diagnosis and training, and a Taste Loss Scale to accurately determine level of taste loss. This will provide members with essential information to understand their own limitations and possibly discover previously unknown tasting abilities, an important step in developing skills and confidence.

For more information see

FlavorActiV pack

Firmenich Community Day 31st October 2015 – The Nose Factor

Staff at one of the world’s leading companies in the fragrance and flavour business have recently been supporting Fifth Sense in a key area of our work whilst raising £1,750 to support the charity through a variety of fundraising activities.

Firmenich is the world’s largest privately-owned company in the fragrance and flavour business. They are responsible for creating flavours and fragrances found in many household brands. Staff at the UK fragrance division in Southall came together at the annual Firmenich Community Day on 1st October and utilised their collective skills, experience and creativity to design and create a number of prototype smell training kits for use by Fifth Sense members.

Firmenich Community Day 2015

The Firmenich team in action supporting Fifth Sense – click the image to enlarge

Fifth Sense Founder Duncan Boak was invited to visit Firmenich following the presentation he gave at the 2014 International Fragrance Association UK Fragrance Forum, where he described the devastating impact that olfactory disorders can have on patients’ quality of life.  On his first visit to the Southall site he met members of the management team including UK General Manager Gary Nelson, Global Category Manager Carlos Almasque and Master Perfumer Martin Koh.

Duncan explained how smell training – with which Martin and other Firmenich perfumers are very familiar – can benefit people who have suffered olfactory loss and how Fifth Sense has been developing a smell training kit.

Martin assembled some fragrance ingredients and Carlos and Duncan drafted a brief for Firmenich staff to design a prototype kit.

Carlos then launched ‘the Nose Factor’ on Community Day, and Firmenich staff worked in teams to brainstorm ideas and create kits.  The entries were then evaluated by a panel of ‘Nose Dragons’ – Duncan and his team of Fifth Sense members, who had the very difficult task of picking a winner from the array of brilliant kits.

Another Firmenich team accepted the challenge of creating dishes that could be enjoyed enjoyed by anosmics; they did this by wearing nose clips that deprived them of the ability to perceive aroma and flavour, forcing them to focus on how their other senses as well as elements such as texture and appearance might be highlighted. The Dragons were called in to judge the results.

Global Category Manager Carlos Almasque presents Fifth Sense founder Duncan Boak with the money raised by the Firmenich team

Global Category Manager Carlos Almasque presents Fifth Sense founder Duncan Boak with the money raised by the Firmenich team

During the afternoon, the Firmenich teams formed a production line to assemble 21 smell training kits based on the winning design.

While the day ended with prizes being awarded to the Firmenich staff who prevailed in these friendly competitions, the real winner was Fifth Sense, which benefited from the talent, enthusiasm and tremendous generosity of Firmenich staff.  The smell training kits were given out to Fifth Sense members to trial at the annual conference on 1st November.

We would like to say a big thank you to the Firmenich team for all their efforts in support of Fifth Sense.



Launch of Fifth Sense partnership with FlavorActiV

We’re delighted to announce details of an exciting partnership with FlavorActiV, the world’s leading sensory training and taster management company.

FlavorActiV Logo Spot ColourFlavorActiV consists of a highly-skilled team of professional taste trainers who use the company’s flavours and sensory tools to train, analyse and support tasting panels across the global beverage industry. In simple terms, they take ‘average’ tasters and turn them into consistent, reliable tasters through targeted training.

The hope is that they will be able to use these skills to support Fifth Sense members to recognise and re-learn tasting abilities.


FlavorActiV deliver the ‘Taste, Train Enjoy’ workshop at the 2015 Fifth Sense conference

To give an idea of the background to this, an important area of our work is around educating people on the distinction between smell and taste, and how the two combine to create flavour. Part of that involves helping people who have suffered olfactory loss become aware that this doesn’t necessarily mean complete loss of taste.

This draws directly on the experiences of Fifth Sense Founder Duncan Boak and other Fifth Sense members who have learned to appreciate the nuances of their ability to perceive basic tastes – sweet, sour, salt, bitter and umami – and utilise this when cooking and enjoying food and drink.

We believe that the partnership with FlavorActiV gives us a great opportunity to help many people become better aware of their own tasting ability and learn to appreciate what they can still detect, as opposed to focusing on what they are missing out on. It is going to be a learning experience for both parties, of course; as far as we are aware, no-one has ever tried to develop any sort of taste training for people who have suffered olfactory loss before.


Fifth Sense members at the ‘Taste, Train, Enjoy’ workshop

We are incredibly excited about the opportunities afforded by the partnership.  FlavorActiV are running a pilot study in early 2016 with a group of Fifth Sense members who volunteered at our annual conference in November and we are looking forward to sharing news on further developments in due course.

To read more about the partnership and 2016 pilot study visit

To read FlavorActiV’s open letter to Fifth Sense members click here

Fifth Sense Conference 2015 – Full Report

Programmes The third annual Fifth Sense conference on October 31st and November 1st run in partnership with the University of Surrey and supported by FlavorActiV was a highly successful coming together of Fifth Sense members, clinicians and researchers, sharing experiences and knowledge to advance our understanding of smell and taste disorders.

Fifth Sense founder and chair Duncan Boak opened the conference, themed ‘Let’s Talk Smell and Taste’, by describing how consolidating the structure of Fifth Sense and developing near and long-term objectives has been a key focus of 2015.

Audience1Some highlights of 2015 include:
– defining the roles and responsibilities of the members of the Fifth Sense board of trustees to guide and advise based on areas of personal/professional expertise
– fostering ties to parties relevant to Fifth Sense’s focus – notably agreeing a partnership with FlavorActiV
– a successful social media campaign entitled ‘Long Lost Smell’ for Anosmia Awareness Day 2015, which invited participants to share their significant aromas both good and bad
– Fifth Sense’s progress towards becoming a registered charity
– forthcoming launch of a redesigned and more user-friendly website

Duncan described the genesis of Fifth Sense and re-emphasised its commitment to supporting members; raising awareness among medical professionals, educators and other influencers and encouraging more public discourse through media and other channels, to push these hidden disorders to the fore – hence the theme ‘Let’s Talk Smell and Taste’.

Next, Richard Boughton, CEO of FlavorActiV, addressed his own route into a career dominated by the ability to smell and taste, first as a brewer and now as the leader of a global team of professional taste trainers who use the company’s own range of flavours to train tasting panels across the beverage industry. Richard talked about how FlavorActiV had learned about Fifth Sense’s work and how they aim to use their skills and expertise to help Fifth Sense members become better aware of their own taste/flavour perception abilities.


Dr Darren Logan

The remainder of the morning was devoted to a number of engaging presentations by clinicians, scientists and researchers including Consultant ENT Surgeon Mr Carl Philpott and Dr Darren Logan of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute/Monell Center as well as a Q&A session  for audience members with ENT Consultants Miss Lisha McClelland and Mr Philpott. These covered current understanding and treatment of disorders in terms of potential remedies and how patients are treated and guided by GPs and Consultants. Following this there were short presentations from Mr Philpott, Dr Logan and researchers Dr Lorenzo Stafford (University of Portsmouth) and Dr Jon Silas (University of Roehampton) around ongoing research and future possibilities.


The various workshops provided the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues relating to smell and taste disorders

Following lunch, Fifth Sense members participated in condition-specific workshops. Discussion took place around what further support and information people wanted to see from Fifth Sense on specific causations and also how members felt future research should be directed. The outcomes of each workshop were then then fed back and discussed in the closing session. Duncan and members of the Fifth Sense team are going to be meeting in November to discuss how the ideas that came out of the sessions can be taken forwards.

On the Saturday evening members of the Fifth Sense team and guests convened at a pub in Guildford for a chat over some liquid refreshments – just what was needed after a day of thought-provoking discussions!

The second day of the conference featured a range of interactive workshops targeting quality of life aspects of smell and taste disorders. Some of these were focused on providing practical support and advice such as the ‘food and cooking’ session led by Duncan Boak and Adrian Wellock which generated a great deal of discussion amongst the participants around increasing the enjoyment of food by paying more attention to other sensory elements in food such as texture and spiciness.


Liam Singleton leads the tasting element of FLavorActiV’s Taste, Train, Enjoy workshop

The ‘Taste, Train, Enjoy’ workshop provided an opportunity for open discussion on how FlavorActiV’s tools and taste trainers could be best utilised to support Fifth Sense members. The liquid taste and smell samples were used to spark a wider conversation about the practical use of ‘Take Home Taste Kits’ for self-diagnosis and independent training, and to offer the opportunity for members to volunteer to form part of a pilot study to learn the true value of bespoke, continuous taste training to improve taste/flavour perception abilities. More details will be released soon, but encouraging first steps were made and the FlavorActiV team received some invaluable feedback from members to help guide future activities.


Smell training

The ‘Smell Training’ workshop also had a practical element, with Duncan talking about the rationale for smell training and what Fifth Sense has learned from the fragrance industry, particularly around ways of communicating and describing smells. This led on to guests being given some prototype smell training kits which have been developed recently for Fifth Sense members to trial by staff from an organisation in the fragrance industry. Duncan and Tom Laughton guided people through the kits and gave advice on how to use them effectively.


Sharing Olfactory Experiences – communicating smells and memories through art


Kate McLean’s smell walk

There was also a great focus on helping Fifth Sense members come to terms with sensory impairment. Tom Laughton’s ‘coping with the loss of a sense’ session gave participants the opportunity to express what their loss has meant to them and gain understanding from others through doing so. Kelly Benneworth-Gray and Kate McLean ran workshops that explored different ways of communicating and sharing olfactory impairment. Kelly’s session focused on the language of olfaction and the challenges associated with describing olfactory disorders. Kate’s workshop involved participants creating visual representations of their perceptions of the olfactory world followed by a ‘smell walk’ that encouraged participants to share their retained memories of smells.

Special mention must go to University of Surrey’s Lakeside Restaurant led by Head Chef John Walter and Restaurant Manager Rhian Jones for the delicious lunch that was provided on the Sunday which featured a spicy beef chilli alongside a milder mixed vegetable chilli. Accompaniments included hand-made tortilla chips (described as ‘historic’ by one guest), spiced beetroot-infused sour cream with walnuts and a pomegranate, mango and sweetcorn salsa. Dessert was a damson sorbet made with some of John’s homemade damson gin which was extremely popular!

BeetrootOverall it was another highly successful conference and we are already making plans for Fifth Sense events in 2016.

We’d like to say a big thank you to the following people for their part in making this year’s event such a success:  Special mention to Charlotte Beebe for all her hard work in organising and running the event (and her mum for coming along and assisting on the Saturday), Julia Gerhold, Rhian Jones, John Walter, Tony Webber and the rest of the team at the University of Surrey, Richard Boughton, Liam Singleton, Martin Thomas and all at FlavorActiV, Kelly Benneworth-Gray, Tom Laughton, Darren Logan, Kate McLean, Miss Lisha McClelland, Sarah Page, Mr Carl Philpott, Alex Reilly, Jon Silas, Lorenzo Stafford, Adrian Wellock ….and, of course, to all the guests who joined us on the day.

All photographs courtesy of Sarah Kathleen Page:

Fifth Sense 2015 Conference Preview

The 2015 Fifth Sense conference will be taking place on 31st October and 1st November at the University of Surrey in Guildford. 

For an idea of what to expect at our conference, here’s a short video filmed at the successful 2014 event:

‘Let’s Talk Smell and Taste’
This is our theme for the 2015 conference.  We want to encourage those of you who are affected by a smell/taste-related disorder to talk about your condition and how it affects you.

The Sunday workshops will also be a good opportunity to talk about any ways you may have of coping with your condition so that everyone can learn from these shared experiences.
We’re also encouraging you to attend with your partner, or perhaps a friend or family member, so they can gain a better understanding of what it means to have a smell/taste disorder.

We’ll be carrying the ‘Let’s Talk Smell and Taste’ theme on into 2016 as part of our efforts to encourage the wider public to better appreciate these senses and become more aware of the impact that smell and taste disorders can have.

Saturday 31st October:  Clinical Information and Research Day
Day one of the conference is for anyone who wishes to find out more about smell and taste disorders, existing treatments and the possibilities that future research may bring. 
– The science of smell and taste and how both senses work
– Different types of smell and taste disorders, their causes, and potential treatments.
– Current and future research
– ‘Consultant Q&A’ session where audience members will have the opportunity to have their questions answered by Consultant ENT Surgeons Mr Carl Philpott and Mr San Sunkaraneni.
– Condition-specific group sessions for Fifth Sense members with the opportunity to have your say into how research should be directed in future
– Meet some of our volunteer Regional Coordinators (both Saturday and Sunday)

Sunday 1st November: Support and Advice Day
Day two has been designed specifically for Fifth Sense members with a strong emphasis on mutual support and workshops focused on helping you find better ways of living with your condition 
– A choice of workshops focused on different aspects of living with a smell/taste disorder led by Fifth Sense members and experts from the worlds of food, drink and fragrance
– Topics covered include: sharing olfactory experiences past and present, the language of olfactory disorders, coping with the loss of a sense, smell training, ‘Taste, Train and Enjoy’ with FlavorActiV and food and cooking tips
– There will also be open sessions running all day with no set topic or agenda – perfect if you wish to meet new people and chat
– Special lunch menu provided by the team at the University’s Lakeside Restaurant

On the Saturday evening we’ll be organising some sort of social gathering for anyone who wants to join us, details will be confirmed nearer the time.

The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH

Weekend Tickets – £114.50 (includes tea and coffee on arrival, lunch and booking fee)
Individual Day Tickets – £62.50 (includes tea and coffee on arrival, lunch and booking fee)

Accommodation is not included in the weekend ticket price above, however we will be providing details of local accommodation when tickets go on sale.

Tickets will be on sale soon.

First get-together for Fifth Sense’s North-East Hub

Fifth Sense’s North East Regional Hub had its first meeting on 1 July 2015. Linda Adamsom, Mark Tavender and Neil Harrison met at the Pitcher and Piano on the Quayside, Newcastle. There was a keen interest from other members in the North East too but not all could attend. After all,the North East Regional Hub  covers a large area; Tyne and Wear, Teesside, Durham and Northumberland!

Linda, Neil and Mark talked about their stories with each other and how they came to lose their sense of smell or taste. They found they had a lot in common when it comes to coping with situations in everyday life. Neil is a talented cook but sometimes worries that he is unable to smell or taste the food he is preparing; his wife and dinner guests however soon put that right though when they devour whatever he has cooked for them! Linda often receives praise for dishes she cooks for family and friends too; her very description of the potato, garlic and layered vegetable dish that is a family and friends’ favourite made Mark’s and Neil’s mouths water. Mark couldn’t claim such culinary talents other than to add chilli to most dishes he now cooks (with the exception of breakfast).

All three hope that this meeting is the first of many and want to see it expand and have some ideas for events and fundraising. They will definitely be keeping in touch so if you live in the North East why not get in touch yourself?

To contact the Hub please visit


Fifth Sense talk smell and taste at BACO 2015

BACO is the leading event for the UK ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) profession.  The British Academic Conference in Otolaryngology attracts over 1000 delegates from all over the UK and much further afield.  The event happens once every three years and this year’s conference was the first one that Fifth Sense had the opportunity to attend.  Given that it is attended by so many ENT Consultants and others associated with this area of clinical practice it seemed like a very good opportunity to get our message that smell and taste matter across to an important sector of the medical profession.

photo 2-3We’re very pleased to say that our participation was a resounding success.  Fifth Sense had prime place at the conference with a stand right at the entrance to the exhibition hall, which gave Duncan Boak and Tom Laughton the ideal location to engage with delegates, aided by a large bowl of chocolate which was on offer to anyone who was prepared to hold their nose and experience the impact of smell loss on flavour perception.

We spoke to a large number of ENT Consultants and the message we got from many of them is that they are are aware of Fifth Sense, very supportive of the work that we are doing and recognise that smell and taste disorders can have a huge impact on the quality of life of their patients.  We’ve seen this awareness and understanding improve over the last couple of years, due in part to our efforts to engage with the ENT profession, for example at the 2014 BRS meeting – the nose clip activity seems to have made a lasting impression on those present!

We do of course recognise that greater understanding and support for our cause might not do much to help anyone affected by a smell and taste disorder at this moment in time, but we do need the ENT profession to be behind us.  If our work can encourage more clinicians to specialise in smell and taste disorders, to carry out more research, then it can only benefit us all in future.

We also spoke to a number of other individuals and organisations who are interested in the work we are doing and potentially working with us or supporting us.  We’ll be following up on these discussions over the coming weeks.

Duncan and Tom came away feeling really pleased at how the event went, and you can get Tom’s perspective from the video above.  We’re hoping to be back at BACO in 2018.

Fifth Sense would like to thank Janet Mills and the rest of the conference team for organising such a successful event and for their support of Fifth Sense. 


Chrissi Kelly at A Slice of Sensory

‘A Slice of Sensory’, the Sensory Science Group Annual Conference, was held on 18th May 2015 at the East Midlands Conference Centre.   The Sensory Science Group welcomes anyone with an interest in the sensory and hosts regular discussion workshops in addition to their annual conference.

photo-23Chrissi Kelly was a guest at A Slice of Sensory and gave a poster presentation on smell training, following her own experience of following this process as she regained some of her olfactory ability in 2014.  Chrissi lost her sense of smell as the result of a virus, and although things have improved in the last year or so, she experiences parosmia (distortions of the sense of smell) so that things don’t smell the same as she remembers them to.  She’s therefore had to re-learn smells, as if for the first time.  Spontaneous recovery of some degree of olfactory ability can occur following post-viral anosmia but unfortunately parosmia is quite a common side-effect with this type of smell loss, so Chrissi’s experience of ‘everything smelling new’ isn’t unusual.

Chrissi was one of only five of eighteen delegates at the conference invited to give an oral presentation alongside her poster, and things got better still as she (fully deservedly in our view!) won the prize for best poster as the result of a vote amongst delegates.   We’re sure you’ll join us in congratulating Chrissi and thanking her for playing her part in helping raise awareness of olfactory disorders, the potential benefits of smell training and Fifth Sense.

For more information on smell training visit