MS Society Awards 2016

We are pleased to announce the winners from the MS Awards 2016, held on 27 April in London.

Inspiration of the Year

Shana Pezaro

Shana has campaigned tirelessly to improve treatment and support for people with MS. She has shared her experiences of MS in the media, attended party conferences, lobbied MPs, campaigned to improve services where she lives, represented people with MS at an European level, and helped the MS Society respond to consultations. Shana also goes the extra mile in raising awareness of MS and sharing her experiences on social media.

Outstanding Donor of the Year

Harry Bibring, Rishon Multiple Sclerosis Aid Group

The group are long term supporters of the MS Society, and started donating to the organisation in 1968. They only ceased when their group closed down in 2014. Over these 46 years they made regular donations that amounted to a total of £224,207. In today’s money that’s over £397,860. Rishon didn’t only fundraise for the MS Society, but also provided social and cultural activities for Jewish people with MS.

Category winners

All text below is taken from the nomination form submitted.

Please click on a category below to find out who the winners and finalists were and why they were nominated

 

Branch

Macclesfield and District Branch - Winner

This branch are well known and respected throughout their region and the wider national MS Society for providing a huge range of services in a modern and innovative way.

The branch reaches a large and dispersed rural area including most of East Cheshire and the High Peak area of Derbyshire. However they are able to deliver popular, constantly improving and wide ranging sustainable services.

The launch of their 'activity hub' in the last year has moved their service provision forward yet again and has provided a template for other branches to follow. The solid proof of their value locally and their ability to meet local need is their almost 300 strong branch membership in a town of just over 50,000 people plus surrounding area.

Chichester and Bognor Regis Branch - Highly commended

The Chichester Branch stands out as a group that is constantly adapting and improving the services it provides, reaching out to as many people as possible in its catchment area.

It runs a successful drop-in providing social opportunity, support and information, and an MS active group specifically catering for younger people and newly diagnosed. The branch run a weekly pilates class and fatigue management sessions, as well as regular day trips and visits supported by community transport.

The group has also successfully engaged with younger people through social media and runs a well-used Facebook page offering information and peer support. The branch has also recently set up a partnership with its local Citizens Advice Bureau to provide benefits advice, which is proving highly popular.

The branch committee works in an open and flexible way, always sharing responsibility and communicating effectively with its membership to ensure the branch is providing a broad range of services that meet a clear need.

Wirral Branch - Highly commended

The Wirral Branch was founded 47 years ago in 1969 and has evolved progressively into the extremely successful branch it is today. With now just over 250 members, the branch was gone from strength to strength, supporting more people living with MS than ever before.

The branch run therapy initiatives named ‘Wirral Wellbeing’. The start-up of new therapies has been kick-started by generous grants or donations, with the NHS having funded our projects to the tune of £35K in recent years.  

Attendances at our six weekly therapy sessions have now risen to over 3,500 per year (over 70 per week), with a total footfall including carers, volunteers and staff of over 5,500 (over 100 per week).

The branch's enthusiastic fundraising volunteer team have risen to the challenge of sustaining all of the branch activities. All of the above facilities are in addition to their longstanding tradition of providing a wide variety of support services through their committed volunteer support team, ranging from home physiotherapy, home/hospital visits, socials, signposting; a regular newsletter; helpline and tri-fold supplement.

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Campaigner

Kate Langwine-Cooke, Wrexham - Winner

Kate has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of MS, in particular highlighting its invisible symptoms. She has a dedicated Facebook page, Invisible Illness, which is followed by thousands of people, and has posted videos of her experiencing discrimination and having a seizure which have been widely shared online. The latter received widespread local and national news coverage including TV interviews with Kate, extending the reach of her campaigning even further.

Shana Pezaro, Sussex - Highly commended

 

Sharon Skillen, Antrim - Highly commended

Sharon works tirelessly to give people with MS a voice in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Since being diagnosed with MS, she has used her position as a policy officer for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to raise awareness of the need for improved treatment and support for people with MS, taking issues straight to the Minister for Health and working to engage all parties. In particular, Sharon established the first All Party Group on MS at the Northern Ireland Assembly, securing cross party support.

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Carer

Zena Nicolaou, Essex - Winner

Zena is a carer for her mother Niki who has relapsing remitting MS. Zena has worked with Niki to raise awareness of MS in the Greek community and was featured in MS Matters in 2013.

Zena also filmed a short video for the MS Society about being a young carer and how looking after Niki impacted on her education and social life. Zena does everything for her mum and that includes, cooking, cleaning, bathing her, combing her hair and reading to her. She writes hew own poetry about her experiences of being a carer which she shares with her mum. From her experience she has learnt to be more sensitive to other people's feelings and has learnt to give back more to others.

Zena was the driving force behind Niki talking about her MS at a Greek/Cypriot community in North London to a group of 30 women. This is something that Niki would never have done before and it's with Zena's encouragement that Niki pushed herself to do this. Following this Niki was invited to be a guest speaker on London Greek Radio and again it was Zena that stood by Niki and pushed her to take part in this and really reach out to the Greek community.

Dave Hickingbotham, Hampshire - Highly commended

For the past 30 years Dave has been a carer for his wife Cheryl, who now has secondary progressive MS. He is also the main carer for two of their three children who have a rare genetic disease and need full time care. Ten years ago he realised that he could no longer work as a company director  and gave up work to care for his wife and children full time. It is a testament to his exceptional personality that he has done  it with grace, humour and fortitude.

Like many he has had to battle 'the systems' of health and social services which demands a great deal of time - learning what you are entitled to and then ensuring you get it. The complexities of the progress of his wife's MS has meant he has had to seek the help of many different agencies that are not 'joined up' and ensure they dovetailed in with the care his very disabled children required.

He is now a great mentor and supporter of many who are either setting out on the journey or struggling with the consequences of life affected by MS - his wisdom, advice and generosity to other men in the groups is freely given and much sought after. His example that things can be done and life can be good have changed outlooks for many other men and their partners, he is a gentle but positive force for good.

Troy Richards, Suffolk - Highly commended

Troy has cared for his wife Mel, since her diagnosis when she was just 20 years old and they were newly engaged. He helps Mel to cook, with personal care when needed as well as helping Mel to get around.  He has also encouraged Mel to help other young people diagnosed with MS and has taken part in a ‘Getting to Grips’ course alongside Mel.

Troy has also helped Mel to gain independance in other ways. Showing her opportunities like helping with MS research which Mel now does as a small job from home. He wears his orange fight for MS band with pride and is a help to people in the community.

Troy also attends other events organised by the local branch to raise money for MS. Troy has supported Mel throughout her life with MS and has always reminded her to stay positive.

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Young Carer

Tiana Topping, Antrim - Winner

Tiana is the primary carer her mother Anne, who has MS as well as the onsets of dementia. Tiana also provides care to her much younger sister. Tiana always puts her family first and sometimes has to be reminded to care for herself as well as having time out to study for her GSCE's.

Tiana is an extremely caring, kind and thoughtful and who wants the best for her family. She is an incredibly modest young girl who views her daily life as ordinary but in fact the caring role she provides and the overcoming of challenges she achieves is extraordinary.

Sheba Meribel Luckie, Gloucestershire - Highly commended

Sheba is nine years old and cares for her mum who has MS. Her mum, Victoria, has had several relapses and two long hospital stays. Sheba has put up with a lot in terms of sometimes embarrassing symptoms impinging on her quality of life and has not only coped well with this and helped with tasks like helping to dress her mum or taking out the heavy rubbish bags without complaint, but has also always made her mum Victoria feel loved and has given her a reason to keep fighting back from each relapse of this disease.

Sophie Robinson, Durham - Highly commended

Sophie's father Stewart, was diagnosed with MS over 18 years ago. Every weekend for the past three years Sophie, aged 13, has chosen to provide selfless caring for her dad while staying over at his house. This includes general housework, shopping, cooking and other practical tasks, as well as providing company and emotional care and support.

Sophie is also developing a choir and plans are afoot for a fundraising concert in support of several charities which are close to her heart in including The MS Society, Cancer Research and Bullying UK. Sophie’s father, after many dark periods has mentioned that he is “proud of the man he has become’” due to Sophie’s on-going support.

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Digital Media

Stuart Rose, Inverness - Winner

Stuart uses social media to illustrate his personal experience and show what it is like to live with a condition like MS; this has made a real difference to people affected by MS. Stuart communicates with his audiences over several social media channels such as: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Wordpress as well as JustGiving whilst also making use of opportunities in his local press.

Stuart began using social media to promote his fundraising for the MS Society when he was running several events near Inverness. The JustGiving page he set up for these events is currently sitting at £41,952 raised (including Gift Aid) from over thirteen hundred donors. This goes some way towards illustrating how far reaching and well received Stuart is through his social media channels.

David Roberts, Norfolk - Highly commended

David has done his best to help people with MS since he was diagnosed in 2007. He first set-up a local group for people with MS, who met once a month to support each other, however in the last two years he has been managing a Facebook group called the ‘Face of MS’ bringing people together from across the world.

The Facebook group has brought together over 1,500 people with MS from the UK and around the world. The group is only for people with MS, giving them a forum where each person can encourage and support each other.

One user says: “This page has been lifeline for me, particularly in the early days of my diagnosis. Whenever I was unsure about a symptom, I always asked on here and received quick, relevant feedback.”

Barbara Stensland, Cardiff - Highly commended

Barbara writes the blog Stumbling in Flats. The blog is an insight into the ups and downs of MS, how it has changed her life and living with her teenage son. She has been writing the blog for over four years. The blogs of the first two years have been published as a book.

She has the gift of writing with a very light hand. A new article is published every few days. She can make you laugh or she can make you cry at her predicament  while also explaining the problems of living with a totally unpredictable disease.

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Employer

Quill Pinpoint - Winner

Quill Pinpoint provides the best possible working environment and has adapted to supporting Sue, an employee with MS through the years. With 90 employees, 26 in the Liverpool office where Sue works, from the MD down throughout the ranks, everybody shows consideration for her symptoms.

Quill Pinpoint has raised over £13K for the MS Society by carrying Sue in a wheelchair up Mount Snowdon and completing the Three Yorkshire Peaks Challenge. They have a dress-down Friday with the money collected going to many different charities. The office culture is to give back to the community, and a lot of work is done to support many national and local causes. Quill Pinpoint has created a culture of support. The company ethos is to understand disability in general and to adapt to each individual’s specific needs.

To show how committed Quill is to its staff, the company holds silver Investors in People and Best Companies '1 Star' status.

Dixons Carphone - Highly commended

Dixons Carphone's compassionate and flexible approach to Mark’s MS has allowed him to remain in senior employment and financially independent.

As Mark’s MS progresses, Dixons Carphone continues to evolve their support. Mark submitted his nomination via voice recognition software that they provided. They are also currently building a purpose built accessible toilet nearer to his desk than the existing ones.

Last year Mark was named one of the #PowerPartTime Top 50, highlighting people who hold down a senior role 'despite' working part time or flexible hours. He appeared in The Times, Sunday Times, Forbes.com (twice), BBC News South and local newspapers, and used the opportunity to talk about his employers, MS and the Chilterns MS Centre.

The Royal Bank of Scotland - Highly commended

The Royal Bank of Scotland has an Enable Network where employees with a disability can all keep in touch and provide feedback and ideas on how to make everything accessible to everyone - customers and staff.  

The nomination was received by Karine who has MS and works in a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Linda is Karine’s line manager and has organised her work day so the routine fits Karine perfectly. Linda has gone the extra mile to arrange technology to ensure that Karine is comfortable to work and has adjusted her shift pattern to a time that is better suited to Karine.

Linda has also helped Karine to raise over £1500.00 for the MS Society and contributed to fundraising to purchase an electric wheelchair.

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Fundraiser

Edward Falshaw, North Yorkshire - Winner

Ed organised and participated in a mammoth day long fundraiser comprising a round of golf at Cleveland GC, a fifty mile cycle ride followed by a further round at Edward’s home course Masham GC followed by a BBQ, band and a firework finale!

Ed managed to call upon the generosity of a whole community to deliver this truly amazing day raising both awareness and funds along the way. He was finding it difficult to come to terms and explain his condition and with this crazy day he was able to do this and more. A support team was brought together and a plan was made. Many people were involved from those dealing with transport of equipment and supplies to those golfing and cycling.

Collections were carried out in the towns on route by collectors ‘Batman and Robin’ ably supported by a posse of helpers. Over £12,000 was raised on the day and other activities throughout the year. Ed nervously went live on local BBC radio and has been featured in both golf magazines and the local press. Ed has participated last year in a 24-hour duathlon, Rat Race and the GNR.

Wirral GEMS, Cheshire - Highly commended

Kat, along with her sister Vicki and friend Kirsty, form up the Wirral GEMS fundraising group. They have a strong connection to MS. Kat and Vicki’s Mum and Dad both have MS. Kirsty also has MS. Their first event was an autumnal Cake Break, in October 2013. They raised an incredible £3,800.

Their formula was to approach their networks for prizes and they held a really successful silent auction, as well as getting loads of friends to bake and take part.  

They followed swiftly with a Cake Break in March 2014 which achieved £5,259. Waiting a whole year for the next one, they topped out at £8,200, in March 2015, breaking their highest grossing Cake Break record for the third time. In 18 months, they raised an astonishing £17,259 towards MS Society Research. They have finally hung up their Cake Break aprons and turning their skills to a black tie ball, planned for October 2016.  

Chris Pooley and Alison Roy, North Yorkshire - Highly commended

Chris and his partner Alison, have been the power couple of 2015.  MS didn’t really mean much to them until they found a close colleague of Chris had been diagnosed with MS. They signed up to 17 grueling events to be completed in 11 months with the hopes of raising £5,000.

They did many half marathons, obstacle courses and muddy races. One of these included the (terrifyingly dangerous) Man vs Mountain - a 20-mile run up and around Snowdon, including obstacles and a vertical kilometre climb.

Chris and Alison have reached so many people who have all been inspired by their challenges, and have managed to double their original target. They have had injuries, horrible whether, but have come through it together and have even got engaged.

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Young Fundraiser

Kirsty and Leah Getlevog - Winners

Kirsty and Leah’s mum Laura has MS, and her daughters always triy to help raise money for their local branch. They are two of  the main fundraisers for the Solihull MS Society Branch. They both help out at as many events as they can and have even held their own events. They both help once a month selling raffle tickets at a local cafe who support the Solihull branch and in a year have raised over £2,000 which helps keep the branch mini bus running to take people to meetings, days out and other places they need to get to.

They organised a charity variety show raised which raised £545 this helped to set up an exercise class for people with MS in the Solihull area. Their cake break raised over £200, and they assisted on another cake break and Burns night which raised a further £500.   

Hannah Jones, Essex - Highly commended

Hannah and her mum signed up to take part in the MS Walk along the Thames in September 2015. From the moment they agreed to do it, Hannah was really excited about raising money to help people with MS get better and talked to her friends and teachers at school about it. They set up a JustGiving page and Hannah was so happy whenever anyone donated to it and made sure that she thanked them when she saw them.

During the summer, they posted updates to their page and shared it on Facebook so more people would be encouraged to sponsor them. As the walk got closer, Hannah talked to the congregation of her church about what she was doing and why. She took a sponsor form into church so that more people could sponsor her there. The people at church were so inspired they donated as individuals and organized a fundraising meal with half of the money raised being given to the MS Society. In total, Hannah and her mum raised over £1200.

Emily and Harry Mason, Wiltshire - Highly commended

The Mason family are very enthusiastic fundraisers and always keen to raise awareness and challenge perceptions of MS. Emily and Harry’s mum Kate has MS.

Harry was the champion fundraiser for an abseil in Bristol in 2013 that he bravely took part in raising a massive £950. The whole family, including grand parents, came along to enthusiastically encourage Harry and other participants. Not to be outdone by Harry, Emily rose to the challenge of an abseil in Stroud last year raising £330.

Together they have hosted and arranged at least three Cake Breaks raising nearly £600.

The family are always keen to pass information about MS Society events and fundraising activites through social media and personal contacts. The most recent example being where they encouraged and inspired The Whitminster Fun Bag Ladies group to also take part in the Stroud abseil who also raised just over £1,500.

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Media

Siobhan Norton, Independent - Winner

Siobhan has done something exceptionally brave, as a journalist she is used to reporting on other people going through times of crisis. But Siobhan took the bold step of opening up in a national newspaper about her own experiences of being diagnosed with and coming to terms with having MS.

It was an incredibly personal story. Siobhan was so honest about her fears, misconceptions and worries about MS and she spoke frankly about the loneliness and panic she felt upon being diagnosed. But what also came across was MS is a condition you can live well with.

As well as reaching hundreds of thousands of people in its print form in The Independent and its sister newspaper, The I, Siobhan's article was shared thousands of time online.

Adam Brimelow, BBC - Highly commended

Adam Brimelow, Healthcare Correspondent for the BBC received a nomination for his work in reporting on a new consensus for MS, which encouraged doctors to end the 'wait and see' culture when it comes to treating MS.

The report, launched by the MS Society in September 2015, stated that too many people living with the relapsing form of the condition - who are eligible for MS medicines - were not receiving treatment. In recent years, more evidence has come to light that suggests the condition is constantly progressing and that medicines can have a huge impact on altering the disease course. People with MS should start receiving treatment as close to diagnosis as possible.

The report was broadcast on the BBC News channel and consisted of interviews with people with MS and MS professionals. In the studio, Michelle Mitchell, CEO of the MS Society was also interviewed.

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Thomas Moore, Sky News - Highly commended

Sky News Health and Science correspondent, Thomas Moore, covered the announcement of the trial results of a drug called ocrelizumab, the first treatment to show a positive effect on the primary progressive form of multiple sclerosis.

Thomas picked up on the story of the trial results of ocrelizumab in October 2015. When the embargo on the results lifted, he reported the story live on Sky News and also put together a TV news package which ran for the rest of the evening. Additionally, he wrote up the story for the Sky News website.

Ocrelizumab offers a huge amount of hope for people with MS as the trial results show it can slow disability progression. Crucially, it's the first drug to ever show positive results on the primary progressive form of the condition. Thomas conveyed this positivity by speaking to a man who'd been on the ocrelizumab trial and could talk about the impact the drug had had on his quality of life.

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MS Professional

Emma Matthews, Northampton - Winner

Emma is a committed and dedicated MS nurse specialist who continuously strives for excellence in providing services for people with MS. Despite large caseloads and limited resources Emma provides a first class service to patients.

Emma has continued to develop DMT services at Northampton General Hospital and offer all DMTs that are recommended by NICE, making them a unique prescribing centre in the area.

Alan Smyth, Antrim - Highly commended

Alan runs an exercise class for people with MS all of whom have varying degrees of disability. Alan has delivered the class over two years and in that time it has grown from six attending to twelve plus.

Alan has a relaxed, fun attitude to exercise and his class members look forward his classes and have encouraged others to join. Alan varies the class activity each week keeping it interesting and challenging, from circuits using weights and bands to boxing and relaxation and lots more inbetween. He caters for the individuals level of ability, bringing fun and camaraderie to the group.  

Pippa Vincent-Cooke, Reading - Highly commended

Pippa is the manager for the Berkshire MS Therapy Centre. The role is demanding and complex, but she always gives her full commitment to everything she does.  

Alongside the physiotherapists, the team of support and admin staff is very small yet, under Pippa's leadership, the centre achieves fantastic results. Pippa took on the role of manager in 1997 and under her stewardship, the centre has gone from strength to strength.

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Political Supporter

Rt Hon Paul Burstow, London - Winner

As a former Minister for Care, Chair of the APPG for MS and MP for Sutton and Cheam, Paul was nominated for his valuable contribution to increasing awareness of MS in Westminster and his leadership within the health and care sector in recent years.

Paul has an extensive track record within the field of health and care policy. Appointed as Minister of State for Care Services from 2010 until 2012 while serving as the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam, Paul was responsible for setting policy on long term health conditions, adult social care, mental health services, carers and learning disability programmes. He also played a key role in shaping the 2014 Care Act.

His achievements as a Minister include developing new talking therapy services for children and young people, banning age discrimination in the NHS and doubling investment in dementia research.

In Sutton and Cheam, Paul continues to be closely connected to the branch and their work to support people with MS directly. This includes chairing the annual meeting of the Sutton branch and supporting their fundraising efforts locally.

Lord Alfred Dubs - Highly commended

Lord Alf Dubs was nominated for his political activity, influencing, and his advocacy work in Parliament which has consistently improved the MS Society’s ability to influence decision makers, shaped proposed legislation that has an impact on people with MS, highlighted and has raised the profile of the work of the MS Society.

Lord Dubs has been a constant advocate for people with MS, he has been a strong supporter and influencer in parliament for people with MS and the MS Society for a number of years.  

Valerie Vaz, West Midlands - Highly commended

Valerie Vaz Walsall South MP is a member of the All Parliamentary Group for MS, she is passionate about the health and well-being of disabled people, particularly those affected with MS and neurological conditions. She has supported the Black Country branch and actively campaigned on welfare issues in parliament that affect disabled people, notably the transition and assesment of people receiving DLA and reassesment for PIP.

She has joined the branch at fundraising and information and awareness events and last year contributed to a Cake Break.  Nothing is ever too much trouble for her, her vast array of knowledge both as an MP and former lawyer has been beneficial to the branch and she is never afraid of raising questions in the House of commons in her quest to make life easier and more bearable for disabled people.

Research

Dr Raj Kapoor, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London - Winner

This nomination is for the following piece of research:

'Phenytoin for neuroprotection in patients with acute optic neuritis: a randomised, placebo-controlled, phase 2 trial.'

The results of this study support the concept of neuroprotection - protecting nerves to keep them alive. This is a vital strategy for the future of MS treatment and there are currently no drugs available to protect nerves in this way. The positive results from this trial could pave the way for introduction of a neuroprotective treatment for people with MS in the future.

In this phase 2 study, 86 people with optic neuritis (a condition in which the myelin surrounding the optic nerve is damaged) were given either phenytoin or a placebo drug for three months. The researchers then assessed whether the drug could help to protect the retina (the light sensitive nerve layer at the back of the eye) from damage by measuring the thickness of the retinal nerve fibre layer, once at the beginning of the study, and again six months later.

Dr Anthony Harrison, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College, London - Highly commended

This nomination is for the following piece of research:

'Beyond a physical symptom: the importance of psychosocial factors in multiple sclerosis pain'

Pain is one of the most common symptoms of MS and drug treatments are often ineffective. This piece of research demonstrates how psychosocial factors can contribute to pain in MS, therefore offering a different potential approach to treatment.

Pain affects around two-thirds of people with MS and drug treatments show limited benefit. This study investigated whether psychosocial factors (including distress, negative beliefs about pain and its consequences, and avoidance of activity) explain significant amounts of the variance in pain severity and how much it interferes with everyday activities.

Professor David Lyons, University of Edinburgh - Highly commended

This nomination is for the following piece of research:

'Synaptic vesicle release regulates myelin sheath number of individual oligodendrocytes in vivo'

The results of this study link nerve cell activity to myelin production. This is important because it is the myelin coating on nerves that becomes damaged in MS, so learning more about myelin production could help in the development of future treatments to repair and regenerate myelin in people with all types of MS.

The results of this study link nerve cell activity to myelin production. This is important because it is the myelin coating on nerves that becomes damaged in MS, so learning more about myelin production could help in the development of future treatments to repair and regenerate myelin in people with all types of MS.

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Volunteer

David Allen, Luton and Dunstable Branch - Winner

David has actively and tenaciously, over the past three years, taken the Luton and Dunstable Branch to a whole new level.  Under his guidance, and in his role as chair, he has instigated and overseen growth of the committee from just three people to ten.

He has also been creative and insightful and as a direct result of this, the branch now have a flourishing social calendar, therapy sessions, annual Christmas and charity events and strong connections with businesses and enterprises in the local community. 

As a direct result the branch has benefited from having a project team allocated to them from a local MP as part of a summer school event for graduates. The team undertook a suite of activities to raise awareness of the branch, including an event hosted at a local youth centre.

Suzanne Crighton, Mutual Support - Highly commended

Suzanne has been a volunteer member of mutual support for decades, working her way up to chairman. She works as a volunteer helping others with support for benefits and war pension claims, general support listening to others, as well as organising a residential weekend twice a year.

Suzanne has raised thousands of pounds other the years for mutual support. She has also helped and encouraged others to raise funds.

Suzanne helps in the training of volunteers who carry who keep mutual support running - giving members something worth doing and some self esteem.  Suzanne is always on call and anyone can call her with a problem and she will be happy to help.

Jan Lambert, Leeds Branch - Highly commended

When Jan was diagnosed with MS, there was little in the way of support groups or resources provided locally. Undeterred, Jan set out to tackle these deficiencies on her own.  She set up MS Chat, a weekly social group where people affected by MS could meet and share experiences and make new friends.

Since joining the branch committee around eight years ago, she has been instrumental in building closer links with the local health professionals. The local branch now fund and help organise six monthly newly diagnosed courses which the MS Nurses run.

Jan is also a passionate believer in the benefits of exercise and worked with local a local leisure centre to design and set up an exercise program specifically targeted at people with MS.

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