Sense Awards: Your nominations are powerful

Our annual award ceremony is just around the corner – you’ve got one more week to nominate the outstanding people in your life! On 24 November, Sense will announce the winners and, together, we’ll celebrate all that they’ve achieved. 

Here are some of last year’s winners, telling us just how much your recognition means to them. 

Praising every ability, with Ben Carpenter  

Ben was nominated for ‘Family Carer of the Year’ – and he won!  

When Ben was just 21 years old, he started the life changing process of growing his family through adoption. After bringing home his first son, he never looked back. Today, Ben is a full-time father to six children, all of whom have complex disabilities.  

He told us that being nominated blew him away: 

“I am absolutely honoured and humbled that Sense has chosen me to receive this award. Making a difference in children’s lives, who happen to have a disability, is not only a joy but a privilege. The thought that other people were seeing my story and might be inspired is wonderful.”

Read Ben’s full story here, What my children have taught me. 

Being a shining star in dark days, with Olivia Rudge  

13 year old Olivia was the winner of the ‘Young Person of the Year’ award.

As a young woman with complex disabilities, it was incredibly hard for Olivia when the pandemic shut down her world. Isolated, frustrated and with worsening mobility skills, Olivia found the power to turn things around. Her hard work and key friendship with her Sense Virtual Buddy saw her confidence, happiness and development come flooding back. 

Olivia’s mum, Sam, was overjoyed:  

“We are so proud of Olivia for winning this award. Even though the last 18 months have been very difficult for her, she has managed to come out the other side, still being our happy, smiley little girl and bringing joy and smiles to everyone she meets.” 

Get to know Olivia more by reading about her Buddying experience. My daughter gained a new best friend during lockdown, thanks to Sense

Believing in the value of every voice, with Eric Griffiths

The brilliant Eric was Sense’s ‘Person of the Year’ in 2021! 

Eric, age 57, has Usher Syndrome and is deafblind. He’s volunteered and campaigned with Sense for over 37 years, fighting for the experiences of disabled people to be acknowledged. Eric has addressed loneliness and accessibility in his local area, advising the council on ways to improve people’s lives.  

Eric’s award has supported his determination to continue campaigning for change: 

“Winning this award means the world to me. I hope I can make people sit up and listen to what disabled people have to say and make it a more inclusive society.”  

You can find more on Eric’s story and work here, Why the Covid-19 public inquiry must be accessible. 

Representing disability – in style, with Shelby Lynch

Shelby was 2021’s ‘Influencer of the Year’ – and she’ll be joining us again this year as one of our judges! 

Shelby is a disabled model and TikTok content creator. She reaches hundreds of thousands of followers, busting myths and dispelling assumptions about her disability. Shelby has used her platform to fight for inclusivity in fashion and to empower people with disabilities across the world. 

“I’ve been up against two amazing women that I also look up to, so to have won is absolutely incredible. I’m just so happy and I really hope all the work that I do online about educating people about disabilities is really helping people and I hope I’m really benefitting the disabled community.”  

Check out Shelby’s TikTok @shelbykinsxo or watch last year’s BBC coverage, TikTok influencer on dispelling disability myths.

So, what are you waiting for? Get nominating! 

Sense Awards celebrate the achievements of people with complex disabilities. This year will be its 19th year!