The Sense Awards are a highlight of the year for many of us, myself included, and this year’s event was no exception. Our annual awards, now in their 16th year, are about recognising and valuing the people around us and the difference they make, whether they are a staff member, volunteer, an individual we support or their family carer or sibling. It’s important that we take time out as an organisation to recognise everyone’s contribution and celebrate their successes.
This year’s awards were very special again and below are just some of my personal highlights.
One month ago, we were thrilled to welcome Judo champion and Paralympian, Jack Hodgson, as our guest speaker at the awards ceremony at Sense TouchBase Pears in Birmingham. Jack, who is preparing for the Paralympics in 2020, is a previous winner of our ‘Young Person of the Year’ award and we were delighted to welcome him back – particularly as Sense has just been awarded £1.3 million in funding from Sports England to extend our sports programme.
Martin Solomon was named our ‘Person of the Year’ in recognition of the huge progress he has made in his confidence and independence. Martin was housebound for 16 years due to his anxieties but, since moving into a Sense supported living service, he now has the confidence to go outside. His achievements are truly inspiring and deserve to be recognised. It’s fantastic to see him thrive and enjoy life and I’m delighted he won the ‘Person of the Year award’.
As always, we were blown away by the achievements of our young nominees. Fifteen-year-old Saihan won the ‘Young Person of the Year’ award in recognition of his advocacy and campaigning work around mental health and disability issues. Saihan has autism and dyspraxia but does not see this as a barrier, and this year he was selected for the last 12 of the Tower Hamlets Young Mayor Campaign 2019. Saihan is an inspiring young man who has already achieved great things. He has campaigned for improved special educational needs provision and has bravely spoken about his mental health battles. We’re delighted to name him as our ‘Young Person of the Year’.
Eight-year-old Nathaniel Greenhouse won the ‘Sibling of Year’ award for helping to care for his older brother, Alexander, who has epilepsy, autism and learning difficulties. Nathaniel is an amazing brother, always putting Alexander’s needs before his own. The patience and kindness Nathaniel has displayed, as well as his maturity is incredible for an eight-year-old and he is truly deserving of his award.
The Peggy Freeman Award for Exceptional Contribution was presented to Anne Cheesbrough. Anne has been with Sense for many years, working with team members and families to offer practical everyday advice. She is a highly valued member of our team who always goes the extra mile to make sure families get the best possible support. She has in-depth knowledge of our services and is always there for the people we support, providing reassurance that we’re there no matter where they live.
These are just a few of our incredible award winners and I’d like to say a big ‘congratulations’ to all of our winners and nominees for their outstanding achievements. I can’t wait for next year!
Find the full list of the 2019 Sense Awards winners by clicking on the button below!