Providing support for fellow MS sufferers
Wimbledon woman Tanya Downs has made the final of the MS Society's national 'MS Volunteer of the Year' award for her efforts in supporting people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).
Tanya Downs, aged 34, is one of three finalists for the category invited to attend the prestigious MS Society Awards ceremony in London on 25 September.
Part-time photography student, Tanya was diagnosed with MS three years ago. Following the advice of her MS Nurse to 'build her own support group' she set up an online support network www.ladieswithlesions.co.uk, which has grown to over 1,000 members within a year. She is pictured (front right) with members of the group she founded.
Tanya also set up Facebook groups to provide support to men and children who are affected by the condition.
One of her nominators, a member of Ladies with Lesions, Jill Chappell says: "Tanya is an inspiration and lifesaver for a lot of people with MS, their partners, carers and children. She says we make the groups work but without her idea we wouldn't have one another."
Another nominator, Jacqui Edwards says: "Tanya has triumphed in the creation of a wonderful network providing a safe haven for everyone involved. It has changed my life as there is always support and friendship there."
Tanya said: "It's the biggest surprise ever. I know that many of my members talk about how the group has helped them, and how families have benefitted from having safe spaces to talk to others who understand exactly what they're going through.
"I had never dreamed that an idea I had sat on my sofa would gather such momentum and reach out to so many. To know that my members felt strongly enough about what I have done to nominate me for this award, is the most humbling thing."
The MS Society Awards were created to reward individuals and groups for their hard work in changing lives for people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS). The judges for the 'MS Volunteer of the Year' category, sponsored by Teva UK Limited, were looking for people whose services have impacted positively on people living with MS, volunteering through social events, advocacy, therapies or education and information.
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the MS Society, said: "The MS Society Awards recognise and celebrate the dedication and hard work of individuals like Tanya Downs who are the shining stars of the MS community. We are delighted that she has reached the final for the 'Volunteer of the Year' award and we look forward to welcoming her to our awards ceremony in September
For more information on the MS Society go to www.mssociety.org.uk.
August 22, 2012