Inspirational campaigner and fundraiser shortlisted for Sense Award

04 December 2015

Ellen Watson and her guide dog A 20-year-old woman who is losing her sight and hearing, has been shortlisted for a national award by deafblind charity Sense in the category of ‘Young deafblind person of the year’ for being a champion for people with sight and hearing impairments.

Ellen Watson was born with hearing impairments, and then at 15 she began losing her sight and was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, a rare condition that causes progressive sight and hearing loss. Despite the challenges her condition has presented Ellen has thrived, achieving excellent results in her GCSE’s and A Levels and is now studying at The University of Sheffield.

Ellen is a committed and inspirational campaigner and fundraiser for charities such as Sense and Guide Dogs, and she works hard to raise awareness of Usher Syndrome and deafblindness.  She also works as a Teaching Assistant with children with sight and hearing loss and has provided inspiration to many young people struggling to come to terms with their condition. 

Commenting on her nomination Ellen said: “I feel really touched to have been nominated by my family and friends and then to have been shortlisted. It's been a rocky four years since I was diagnosed, but thanks to amazing support from my family, my awesome mum, great friends and charities like Sense, it has not stopped me achieving what I set out to do. 

“Being at uni in Sheffield, letting my hair down like any other 20 year old, having the freedom to do what I want on my terms, laughing and smiling are some of the things I will never take for granted, and will be forever grateful for. It is thanks to the tireless campaigning of charities like Sense that I have the opportunity to live a life as fulfilling as any other 20 year old, so thank you!”

Sense Chief Executive Gill Morbey said: "People with a range of sensory impairments often face major challenges in life and these awards reflect some of the fantastic achievements they have accomplished. I have been hugely impressed by the dedication, determination and good work of all the nominees. Ellen is an amazing young woman and I would like to congratulate her on her nomination."

Ellen will find out if she’s won at a special ceremony in London on 7 December hosted by TV presenters Wendy Turner and Julie Peasgood.


Media enquiries:

Please contact Laura Brown at the Sense press office on 0207 014 9381 (Out-of-hours 07770 580 843) or email for more information or high res photos or to interview Ellen Watson. 

Notes to editors: 

Sense is a national charity that has supported and campaigned for children and adults who are deafblind for 60 years. There are currently around 250,000 deafblind people in the UK. Sense provides specialist information, advice and services to deafblind people, their families, carers and the professionals who work with them. 

Deafblindness is a combination of both sight and hearing difficulties. Some of these people are completely deaf and blind, but others have some remaining use of one of their senses. 

Causes of deafblindness include premature birth and exposure to rubella during pregnancy, which can cause babies to be born deafblind. Sense therefore supports MMR which has proven to be the most effective vaccination programme against rubella. Some genetic conditions such as Usher syndrome can also result in deafblindness. People can also become deafblind at any time through illness, accident or in older age.