Meet the judges for the 2023 Sense Awards

It’s the 20th year of the Sense Awards, where we celebrate the achievements of people with complex disabilities and their families and carers.

On this page, you can find out all about our fantastic judges. They’ll be deciding who wins in categories like Person of the Year, Young Person of the Year and Young Sibling of the Year.

You can also find out more about this year’s host: the trail-blazing broadcaster, author and advocate Samantha Renke.

The host

Samantha Renke

Samantha Renke, a white blonde woman in a blue dress, sitting in her wheelchair.
Photo credit: Nicky Johnston

Samantha Renke is a broadcaster, speaker, author and disability advocate.

She writes for national newspapers like the Metro about disability issues, and published her book You Are The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread in 2022. You might have seen her on Jeremy Vine on 5, Sunday Morning Live, Lorraine, Loose Women and Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, or heard her podcast, The Mobility Lifestyle Pod.

Samantha has brittle bone disease, and is an ambassador for charities such as the Brittle Bone Society and Scope. Thanks to her tireless disability advocacy, she was nominated as Celebrity of the Year at the National Diversity Awards, and has been named on The Shaw Trust’s Disability Power 100 List for a number of years. 

The judges

Alice Ella

Alice Ella, a smiling white woman with brown hair in a ponytail, holds her mobility aid in front of a backdrop of disco balls.

Alice Ella is a singer, who has sung on adverts for household brands and whose songs have racked up millions of streams. She has also lived with ME for a total of 18 years, causing debilitating fatigue. As her disability is invisible, she regularly comes across ableist attitudes.

In response to this, Alice has become a fierce disability advocate, raising awareness about ambulatory wheelchair users and those with invisible illnesses. She worked with Transport for London on the Please Offer Me A Seat campaign. Alice was recognised at last year’s Sense Awards, being nominated for Influencer of the Year. 

Lauren Gilbert

Lauren Gilbert, a white person with purple hair wearing a face mask, giving a talk at The Autism Show.

Lauren Gilbert is Sense’s reigning Influencer of the Year, having won the trophy in 2022. They work hard to raise awareness of the issues that the disabled community faces through easy-to-read, accessible social media posts as @NeurodiversityWithLozza.

Lauren’s work is used by mental health nurses to educate about autism in the workplace. In the last academic year, Lauren was Disability Officer at Newcastle University Students’ Union, where they dedicated over 400 voluntary hours to improving the academic experience for disabled students. 

Dan White

Close up of Dan White, a bearded man with dark hair and glasses.

Dan White is a children’s author, specialising in inclusive stories. He created the Disabled Superheroes and The Department of Ability, and self-produced their very own comic. Dan is also a disability and care campaigner, carer, artist, occasional broadcaster, very proud dad, Ambassador for AccessAble, The Food Foundation and Snowball, and has a hidden disability. 

Siobhan Fitzpatrick

Siobhan, a white woman with hair tied in a bun, playing basketball in an active wheelchair.

Siobhan Fitzpatrick is a British wheelchair basketball player, who competed in the 2020 Summer Paralympics. She’s won medals at the Wheelchair Basketball World Championship and the European Championships. 

Siobhan has cerebral palsy, and struggled to access sport at school, but now has gone from strength to strength in her basketball career. She was a member of the Athlete’s Advisory Committee for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Briony May Williams

Briony, a white woman with red hair, rolling out dough on a floury surface.
Photo credit: Ciara Hillyer

Briony May Williams is a presenter, cook and baker who first rose to prominence after reaching the semi-final stage of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4. She went on to win the Christmas Special the following year. Today, Briony presents on TV series such as Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped and BBC One’s Escape to the Country. You might also have seen her on BBC One’s Morning Live, Would I Lie To You? or The Last Leg. 

Briony was born with a limb difference and is an ambassador for Reach, the national charity that supports children with upper limb differences. In 2022, Briony was named on The Shaw Trust’s Disability Power 100 List of the UK’s most influential disabled people. 

Richard Kramer

headshot of Richard Kramer looking at the camera smiling

Richard Kramer is the chief executive of Sense and Sense International. He’s been at the charity for more than 10 years. He’ll once again be one of our judges this year.

In Richard’s own words: “Celebrating the achievements of children and adults with complex disabilities, including those who are deafblind, and those who support them at our annual awards ceremony is always a highlight of our year.”

Find out more about the Sense Awards 2023.