Sense Awards 2021 transcript
Sense Awards 2021
A big warm welcome to the Sense Awards 2021 with your host, Richard Kramer.
Welcome to the virtual Sense Awards 2021. I'm Richard Kramer, Chief Executive of Sense and Sense International.
The Sense Awards celebrate the achievements of people with complex disabilities, as well as the individuals, groups and organisations who are helping to create a more inclusive world for disabled people.
The people we celebrate today share our belief that no one with complex disabilities should be isolated, left out or unable to fulfil their potential.
Audio Description version of Sense Spirit Film.
Communication can connect us or isolate us…
School girls in a gazebo chatting while a girl watches from afar, sitting alone.
A man stares through a window, looking sad.
At Sense we find thousands of ways to connect…
The next 20 seconds, shows people engaging in different activities using different ways of communicating…
Through the language of speech
A woman talking with her Sense Support Worker.
The language of sign
A woman sitting with her phone propped up on her kitchen table signing to her Sense Support Worker via FaceTime.
The language of music
A young girl lying on her back with her legs elevated on a large drum feeling the rhythm that her Sense Children and Family Support worker is making with the drumsticks.
The language of smell
A woman is sat in her wheelchair and her Sense Support Worker both sitting by a kitchen table with yellow, green and red peppers in front of them. The Sense Support Worker is holding half a red pepper to the woman’s nose so she can smell it.
The language of art
A blind woman is feeling a textured painting displayed on the wall in front of her at an art exhibition.
The language of dance
Three people are holding their hands up in the air and are moving round in a circle during a dance class.
The language of Josh
A baby called Josh is sitting with his Sense Multi-sensory Impairment Specialist, who is holding a handful of bubbles for Josh to touch, feel and play with.
The language of Lucy
A woman called Lucy is having a conversation with her Sense Support Worker using her own language of gestures.
The language of Libby
A woman called Libby, who’s sitting in her wheelchair, responding with smiles and head movements to picture symbols in a book being held in front of her by her Sense Support Worker.
The language of Fernando
A man called Fernando is having a conversation with his Sense Support Worker using hand on hand signing.
For everyone who is deafblind. For everyone living with complex disabilities. For everyone. Because life’s better when we’re all connected.
The next 20 seconds, shows people connecting with each other and the world around through different activities, including…
Two people chatting in a café using hand on hand signing.
A group of people enjoy swaying back to back in a dance class.
A wheelchair user being taken on an adapted bike ride.
A toddler plays in a sensory ball pond.
A girl laughs under a giant multi-coloured parachute being wafted by the rest of the group.
A boy at an outdoor centre enjoys lying on a large square rope net tied between trees being bounced by other young people in his group holding the edge of the rope net.
A girl and support volunteer enjoy kayaking.
A man and support worker have fun performing a lively hand dance routine.
Two women smile and give each other a hug.
Sense - connecting sight, sound and life. No one left out of life, no matter what.
I would like to thank everyone of you who contributed to the hundreds of nominations we have received this year. Thank you also to our panel of judges who have had the challenge of reviewing all the nominations and picking our winners.
Throughout this ceremony, we want to hear from you. You can tweet using the hashtag #SenseAwards to tell us how you're enjoying it and to share your heroes.
Now without further ado, here's the shortlist for our first award.
The Person of the Year Award
The Person of the Year award recognises an individual who's excelled this year. They may have overcome a great challenge, shown incredible commitment, or been exceptionally creative.
The nominees for this year's Person of the Year are...
Eric has been volunteering and campaigning with Sense for 37 years. He has spoken out on issues such as loneliness and accessibility in his local area.
Most recently, Eric campaigned on the government's handling of the pandemic. Throughout the pandemic Eric has also cooked and delivered meals to isolated and elderly residents in Salford.
He plans to continue campaigning for the rights of deafblind people in the community.
Clare has a learning disability and requires daily support from carers to complete everyday tasks.
During the pandemic, Claire had to shield, meaning her carers couldn't visit her at home, which left her isolated. But Claire continued to work for the NHS as an access health champion, determined to adapt to online working so she could advocate for the needs of patients with a learning disability.
She also co-created a poetry collection.
It is wonderful that Claire was able to overcome the difficulty she faced throughout the last 18 months and has created something positive that will inspire others.
Philip is 70 years old and deafblind.
Philip began to take steps towards moving out of his family home to live independently. This process was delayed due to the pandemic, but in March this year, with support from Sense, he finally got the keys to his new home.
Philip had to learn independent living skills and used touch to orientate himself around his new flat. Philip has also taken time to meet other deafblind people who are considering living independently to offer his support and advice.
Before the pandemic, Janet was very active and a regular at her local leisure centre. But when lockdown began, she couldn't take part in all her favourite activities, such as spinning and swimming.
Despite being confined to her flat for months at a time, Janet was determined to find other activities to keep her busy and stay active. This included online activities delivered by Sense Active such as drumming and pound, Tai Chi, and spinning.
She has shown strength and determination to adapt and find new activities which bring her great joy.
And the winner of Person of the Year is Eric Griffith.
Let's hear from Eric.
Well, first of all, thank you very much for the award which I was not expecting at all. Especially these trying times and the last 18 months with all we’ve been through not just me but everybody else.
The award means a lot to me because it's been a very, very trying year and hopefully, we've seen the back of that now. We can all get back to normal and get back to campaigning and fundraising like we’re always doing.
And basically, I’m just happy to receive the award from Sense.
Young Person of the Year Award
Next up is the Young Person of the Year award, which recognises an individual under the age of 25 who's been particularly creative, overcome adversity, or made a positive impact in their community.
The nominees for Young Person of the Year are...
When the pandemic began, Olivia’s support ceased and her routine was turned upside down, leaving her upset and frustrated as she couldn't understand the situation. Her mobility skills also worsened without her usual hydrotherapy sessions, but during lockdown, Olivia joined the Sense Virtual Buddying scheme.
Olivia's family were surprised at how well she adapted to the sessions, which have helped her to improve her concentration and trying new activities such as candle making, sensory experiences and dancing which has improved her mobility skills.
Olivia is an absolute star and it's wonderful to see how she has overcome the challenges she has faced throughout the last 18 months.
15-year-old Ava is deafblind and uses a wheelchair. She creates digital artworks using her tablet computer and raises awareness about deafblindness through social media.
Ava's recent artistic achievements include winning the public vote at the Harris Art Gallery, Open Competition 2021, and running a successful solo art expedition in Preston. She has many projects coming up, including commissions from Ocado Life magazine.
Despite being frustrated by the limits to what she could do during the pandemic, she was determined to focus on her art and continue being creative and raising awareness about deafblindness.
Ava is a brilliant young artist and advocate, as well as being a wonderful role model for young people who are deafblind.
Despite the challenges of the last 18 months, five-year-old Bertie has made fantastic progress at school and can now recognise numbers, colours and letters. He started making sounds and can sign some words.
It's wonderful to celebrate Bertie's achievements since starting school, and we're sure he'll continue to flourish.
And the winner of Young Person of the Year is Olivia Rudge.
Let’s hear from Olivia.
Olivia Rudge’s mother:
Olivia, this is your award. Do you like it? Whose name is that? Is that your name?
It says Sense Awards 2021 Young Person of the Year.
How do you feel? Do you feel happy? Yeah? Excited? Mummy and daddy are very proud of you for getting this award.
The Fundraiser of the Year award
Sense’s work would not be possible without the support of our fundraisers. The Fundraiser of the Year award celebrates an individual or group who have made an incredible contribution to Sense and the work that we do.
The nominees are...
Alison is 44 years old and has Usher syndrome. During the pandemic she lost her sight completely.
To overcome her loss of confidence, Alison decided on the no small feat of climbing The Three Peaks with her father John. Together, the pair raised over £2,500 for Sense.
Anne is a parent whose daughter attends Sense services.
Despite the pressures of being a carer, she is constantly campaigning for and fundraising on behalf of Sense Services.
Over the last 30 years, she has worked tirelessly to raise thousands of pounds to expand Sense’s work in Northern Ireland.
Anne usually avoids the spotlight, which is why it is great to take this opportunity to acknowledge her work and show our appreciation.
22-year-old Zack set up his own 24 hour gaming event, raising £2,000 for Sense.
His virtual gaming event was called Tablethon and was so successful that he has now become an ambassador for our gaming event ‘Ctrl Alt Donate’ encouraging other societies and groups to hold events alongside his.
And the winner of Fundraiser of the Year is Anne McManus.
No! What? My goodness! Aww.
Man handing over the award:
Thank you for all that you’ve done.
Sense is my passion and it’s killing me at minute because we can’t do the big, big functions but, oh, this is so nice! Oh, how lovely is that. Oh, how lovely is that.
It’s very nice to be recognised and it is really is very nice to be recognised.
Community Partner of the Year award
The Community Partner of the Year award recognises a local business or organisation that has dedicated its time, resource and skills to improve the lives of people with complex disabilities within their community.
The nominees are...
The school had been supporting Sense for a number of years by providing its facilities to our West Midlands Children Services.
If that wasn't enough, Dawn, who is a teacher at the school, has been volunteering on Sense’s Holidays for over 19 years. And we must also mention that the school raised £1,500 as well as collecting items to donate to our shops.
Special Stars Foundation.
Special Stars Foundation is a charity providing a wide range of inclusive activities for people of all ages with complex disabilities, alongside a variety of learning opportunities, advice and support for parent carers.
The pandemic has meant the charity had to quickly adapt their services to continue to offer support. After consulting with service users, they created a YouTube channel with support videos and a learning library for specialist equipment and sensory toys providing “Boxes of Happiness” for disabled children and adults to enjoy at home.
True Colours Theatre.
True Colours Theatre provides performing arts classes for children and young people with additional needs, disabilities and mental health difficulties in the North East of England.
Members are directly involved in deciding class content and take an active role in developing scripts, choreography and lyrics for performances.
By being inclusive in the development of programs, they help member gain a sense of accomplishment and achievement, leading to increased confidence and self belief.
The teaching team use a range of augmentative and alternative communication devices to support or replace spoken communication to support the inclusion of non-verbal children.
Children Community Nursing Team at Southern Health and Social Care Trust.
The team were nominated by a mother who used their services for her son and they are being recognised for the support and reassurance they provide to families.
Children and their families always feel welcomed by their smiling faces and positive attitudes while ensuring to adopt their practices and support in accordance with children's needs.
And the winner of Community Partner of the Year is True Colours Theatre.
Hi everybody, I'm Ali and I'm the founder and CEO of True Colours Theatre.
We're absolutely thrilled and honoured to be able to accept this award for the Community Partner of the Year from Sense. To be able to create that safe place, a place of acceptance and where everybody can grow without any stigma or difference is all that we want.
We couldn't do this without our members and our family and my fantastic team and thank you so much again.
Young Sibling of the Year Award
Siblings play such an important part in each other's lives and for the Young Sibling of the Year Award we recognise siblings who have done we recognise siblings who have done something amazing to support their family.
Maybe they've created social or learning opportunities for their brother or sister, or have shown exceptional understanding for their age.
The nominees are...
Seven-year-old Harmony helps look after her six-year-old brother Olly who has complex needs.
Harmony walks him to school pushing his pushchair and she also learned Makaton and sign language to try and encourage Olly, who is nonverbal, to use them.
Emma provides selfless support to her brother John day in and day out. Despite last year being particularly difficult with John hospitalised, she wouldn't leave his side while also studying for her A levels.
Emma is always there for John and even cancelled her A level celebration when John had a seizure on the day she received her results.
For the last 10 years, she's also attended local Sense events where she is always on hand to help with young siblings from other families too.
12-year-old Leo, cares for his seven-year-old sister who has cerebral palsy. He is very disability aware and will often question things if they have a negative impact for disabled children or adults.
During the pandemic, when Leo and his sister had to be home schooled, he was also a great help, encouraging her reading and writing.
Leo is always happy to play games to support her development and will often make games up himself to help with sensory or educational practice.
19-year-old Rebecca helps to care for her disabled brother Nathan, who is 11 years old. She helps by bathing, dressing and looking after him as well as using her social media to advocate and raise awareness of disability.
She's currently studying occupational therapy to support other disabled children when she is qualified.
Sarina is 13 years old and shows a level of maturity way beyond her years. Sarina's sister Sanaz has a variety of complex disabilities and as such, Sarina undertakes a caring role.
Sarina helps with feeds, personal care and also enjoys reading to her sister.
Living with an extremely clinically vulnerable sibling means Sarina has faced many challenges of her own, only heightened by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges she has faced, she approaches every day with a smile on her face and continues to pursue opportunities and the things she loves.
The joint winners of Young Sibling of the Year are Emma McCaughey and Harmony Cutting.
Let’s hear from Emma and Harmony.
Hi, my name is Harmony Cutting. Winning the Sense Award is an honour and I'm just being a sister to my brother, so, to be honest, I don't really know why I've won it.
I'm just being a sister to my brother, and I thought every other kid was being like me to their little brothers or sisters.
Hi! Thank you so much for this award. It means so much to be recognised for something I do in my daily life being John’s big sister.
And I know so many other siblings as well who work so hard and support their families and I'm so privileged to have won this award.
Sense has helped us through most of John’s life. We're always running charity fun days and we’re always meeting new people and it's so nice to be recognised by Sense.
Thank you so much.
The Family Carer of the Year Award
In the UK there are around six and a half million unpaid carers. The Family Carer of the Year Award is so important because it recognises the best of human nature.
The importance of caring, carers holding families together, enabling loved ones to get the most out of life. Making an enormous contribution to society and saving the economy billions of pounds.
The nominees for Carer of the Year are...
Ben is a single dad of six adopted children with complex disabilities. Ben previously worked in the care sector and has dedicated his life to caring for his children.
He works at promote adoption, helping prospective adoptive parents to consider adopting children with complex disabilities.
During the pandemic, Ben cared for his children alone throughout lockdown. His children’s schools reported what an amazing job Ben did and how much the children improved in that time.
Following the loss of his child Teddy, due to sepsis, Ben is also now working to raise awareness of sepsis.
The dedication he shows to his children and the support for each of their individual needs is incredible to see.
Jenny and Peter Jupe.
Jenny and Peter have supported their nine-year-old granddaughter Bethany who has CHARGE syndrome, throughout the pandemic.
Bethany had to shield during the pandemic and Jenny and Peter provided emotional and practical support to Bethany and her mum Hannah while they were shielding.
Bethany moved in with Jenny and Peter while Hannah worked remotely as a Principal Scientist at Pfizer. They had to learn about aspects of Bethany's care, from sign language to gastrostomy feeding and tracheostomy care.
The family attended virtual events organised by Sense, including creative sessions during this time.
Katie is a mom of two and a hairdresser who was furloughed during the pandemic and wanted to help others. She became a carer, providing personal care to people in their own homes.
Katie, who has a visual impairment, overcame her fear of driving in the dark to provide personal care on night visits at the homes of people she supported. She also continues supporting her father-in-law, uncle and a family friend, who all have care needs and who she's been supporting before the pandemic by cooking meals and doing their washing and shopping.
Katie is now back at work as a hairdresser, but still does her home care work and hopes to train to become a nurse.
Karen cares for her son John who has a visual impairment and complex needs.
Last year, John experienced serious health issues when he had sepsis and nearly lost his life twice. Thankfully, he recovered, but tested positive for Covid soon after and was re-admitted to intensive care.
A few days later, Karen's husband John, was also admitted to intensive care with Covid and Karen was hours away from losing them both. Karen remained strong and fought for her husband and son, spending nights in hospital ensuring they had everything they needed.
They both pulled through and were discharged within 24 hours of each other, both needing considerable care and support. Karen stayed in isolation while supporting them both in their recovery.
Claire is a single parent to four-year-old Emily who is autistic.
The pandemic lockdowns were difficult for Claire and Emily as due to unforeseen circumstances Claire and Emily had to move in with Claire's mum, leaving them isolated in a small living space without their usual support groups.
When Claire and Emily started attending sensory sessions at Senseactivity, a support group for families caring for people with sensory difficulties, the situation began to improve.
Emily loved the group sensory room and Claire had the opportunity to talk to others in similar situations and was signposted to other organisations who could provide her with support.
Since attending the sessions, Emily has started school and Claire's confidence has grown and she is planning to do volunteer work to help others.
And the winner of Family Care of the Year is Ben Carpenter.
Winning Sense's Family Carer of the Year Award is an absolute honour and privilege and I thank you very much for choosing me.
The last two years have been incredibly difficult for our family what with the death of my son and Covid and this award certainly has put a smile on both mine and my children’s face.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Campaigner of the Year Award
The individuals shortlisted for Campaigner of the Year, have championed the rights of people living with complex disabilities at a local or national level, from tackling loneliness of disabled people in the community to engaging with MPs about social care. Together, we campaign for the rights of people living with complex disabilities to take part in life.
Sense has been campaigning for disabled people to be at the heart of the upcoming public Covid inquiry in order for their voices to be heard and for lessons to be learned.
So, before we introduce you to the nominations for Campaigner of the Year category I’d like to present a short film about the campaign.
Sense’s Covid-19 Inquiry Film
6 out of 10 people who have died from Covid-19 are disabled.
This pandemic has worsened existing inequalities disabled people face and exposed new issues.
From a reduction in care and support to difficulties accessing medical essentials and food.
Next year there will be a public inquiry into the UK’s handling of Covid-19.
We’re calling for disabled people to be at the heart of it.
Learn more and add your name to our petition
The voices of disabled people must be heard.
If you'd like to support our campaign, visit sense.org.uk.
And now, the nominees for Campaigner of the Year are...
Katie is a deaf actor, motivational speaker and sign language coach who aims to bring the world together through sign language. She runs a business called Sign For Profit, which works with companies to Learn Sign Language and be more inclusive.
In July this year, Katie won a claim against the government over the absence of a British Sign Language interpreter at two Covid briefings which a judge had found constituted discrimination. The ruling recognised the importance of equal rights for disabled people.
Natalie has Usher syndrome and lives with her husband and two children.
She shares her experiences throughout the pandemic as part of Sense’s Left Out of Life campaign which called on the government to recognise the severe impact of the pandemic on disabled people and improve the support available.
During lockdown, Natalie only left her home for exercise or to go to the shops with her husband, causing her to lose confidence and independence. She uses lipreading to communicate, which has been challenging throughout the pandemic due to the use of face coverings.
Natalie, who is supported by Sense services, shared her story in the national press and was also featured in Sense’s Think. Ask. Include. film, which has been viewed thousands of times.
In August, she spoke at a Sense parliamentary event, sharing her experience with ministers.
Jane is blind and has had to shield away from her partner for most of the pandemic due to a kidney transplant.
Jane used to feel very independent and would go out with her guide dog, but the pandemic has caused her to lose a great deal of confidence and independence.
In February this year, Jane shared her experiences in national and regional media as part of Sense’s Left Out of Life campaign, which raised awareness about the increase in social isolation and loneliness felt by disabled people during the pandemic.
Later in the year, Jane would also contribute to Sense’s Covid inquiry campaign Covid inquiry campaign that disabled people are put at the heart of next year's Covid inquiry.
Chris has been nominated in recognition of his campaigning work to tackle cyberbullying motivated by his own experiences as a disabled man.
His connection with mental health group Rainbow After the Storm, helped to grow his confidence and taught him new coping skills and it wasn't long before he became an anti-bullying ambassador for the group, helping others affected by this issue.
Chris launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness about his issue and was interviewed in the press. No one should ever have to experience any kind of bullying, but Chris has turned his experience into something positive that will help others.
And the winner of Campaigner of the Year is Katie Redstar.
Hello, my name is Katie Rowley, also known as Katie Redstar.
I’m so excited. Thank you. Thank you for giving me this award. Thank you.
I look at myself and my vision and I hope we will see a change in society and how everyone can access information equally. I do feel very proud. Thank you, thank you.
It made me feel proud of us and proud of what we campaigned for. We won and while not everything we want to see changed has been achieved quite yet, it will hopefully be soon.
Thank you again. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m so ecstatic and proud to be a part of the Sense Awards. Thank you.
Volunteer of the Year Award
Our volunteers are incredibly important to us at Sense and we want to recognise those who have shown and we want to recognise those who have shown developed new skills, and exceeded expectations resulting in a positive impact on those we support.
The nominees for Volunteer of the Year are...
Adam, who has a learning disability, has volunteered for Sense for over 16 years. He helps both day service staff and the local activity group ‘Get Out There’ group Sandwell.
He is absolutely loved by both staff and supported individuals. Adam has walked in the snow and ice to still support us when there's been no transport.
Adam has been Santa Claus for 12 hours, delivering Christmas presents to kids in the pandemic, dressed up as the Easter chicken, delivering Easter eggs and even Superman for superhero day.
28-year-old Bethany Hughes is a family support worker and trainee play therapist who has volunteered on Sense Holidays.
When Sense Holidays could not take place during the pandemic, she volunteered her time on Sense’s Virtual Buddying program where she was matched with 13-year-old Olivia Rudge.
Olivia, who is nonverbal, has struggled with lockdowns as she couldn't understand why her usual routine was interrupted. Despite Olivia's communication difficulties, her and Bethany had bonded and became friends.
73-year-old Pauline is an active mother and grandmother who has volunteered for the Sense charity shop in Dover for the last eight years.
Pauline volunteers at the Dover shop three days a week, always showing support for her fellow volunteers and creating a welcoming and safe atmosphere for shoppers.
She can also be found keeping her fellow volunteers topped up with fruit and vegetables from her allotment.
Toby volunteers on Sense’s Redbridge Buddying program run by Sense. Toby was matched up with Fred.
Fred has been involved with other mentoring programs in the past, but he usually stopped going to sessions after a month. Almost two years later Toby is still having regular sessions with Fred.
Together, the pair had visited transport museums, and completed day trips to Brighton and Southend together.
Toby is also encouraging Fred to think about his future and has helped him to apply to college courses.
And the winner of Volunteer of the Year is Adam Maynard.
Hello, my name is Adam Maynard and I've enjoyed working at the day service and kid service.
I've been at day services for 23 years. Kids service I've been at for 12 years and I've really enjoyed it.
I enjoy working with all the service users at day service all the kids at kids service. I like working with all the staff as well at kid service and adult service. I've really had a good time. And I've really enjoyed that I've got this award now.
Partner of the Year Award
This award recognises a business or organisation that has dedicated its time, resources and skills to improve the lives of people with complex disabilities.
The nominees for Partner of the Year are...
The Pears Foundation has supported Sense since 2015 and generously donated more than £1.4 million to improve the lives of people with complex disabilities.
The foundation support has made a world of difference from allowing us to open Sense TouchBase Pears in Birmingham and running a range of high-quality services there, to investing in our buildings and tackling loneliness in the pandemic.
The Pears Foundation team generously shared their knowledge and expertise and works alongside Sense to help us do what we do best and their commitment to partnership working delivers so much more than money.
Severn Trent Academy is showing such commitment to learning and developing their offers to be inclusive in their first year of operating.
They have set an ambitious goal of providing 100,000 hours of free employability training to help get more people back into work post pandemic. A key area of focus for them is disabled job seekers which Sense is supporting them on.
Our partnership with Severn Trent Academy establishes themselves as a key provider of accessible and inclusive training and employment practices spotlighting their commitment to breaking down barriers for marginalised groups.
As part of the partnership Sense and Severn Trent are co-hosting the Pan Disability Job Fair in 2022 to bring over 250 disabled job seekers and 70 companies together.
Last but not least, Severn Trent are donating £15,000 to charitably funded services at Sense.
And the winner of Partner of the Year is Pears Foundation.
We are delighted to have been awarded Sense ‘Partner of the Year’. We know the pandemic has made life even more challenging for people with complex disabilities, and their families.
As part of the Foundation’s early pandemic response we made some additional funding available to Sense, whose staff and volunteers have responded brilliantly to the restrictions over the past year and a half, moving services online and developing new programmes to continue to connect and support families across the country.
We are absolutely delighted that we were able to support Sense in this work.
Sir Trevor Pears CMG, Executive Chair, Pears Foundation
Influencer of the Year Award
Our next category celebrates influencers who have raised awareness about disability and promote inclusion across society through their large audiences on social media.
The nominees for Influencer of the Year are...
Lucy is a model, writer and disability advocate.
After contracting a rare brain disease called Encephalitis in 2016 she started a blog detailing her experiences and gained thousands of followers on her social media pages. This gave her the traction to challenge the fashion industry with the goal of normalising disabled bodies.
Lucy now has more than 73,000 followers on Instagram and more than 260,000 on TikTok. She has worked with big name brands including Amazon, Spotify and Simply be and continues to campaign for better awareness of disability.
Lucy is a presenter, journalist and online digital creator who makes content about her life and disability.
At the age of 17, she lost her sight after being diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.
During lockdown last March, Lucy started to think about what she could do to spread awareness of blindness. She wanted to show the world what she could do, so she started to upload on TikTok where she now has more than 1.7 million followers.
She has a successful career in the media and last December, she became the first ever blind BBC Radio 1 presenter, which is an incredible achievement.
Shelby is a social media influencer and model whose goal is to make fashion more accessible for disabled people and encourage the fashion world to be more inclusive and representative of disabled people.
Shelby has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, type 2 and uses an electric wheelchair while being ventilated 24/7.
She started creating YouTube videos to share her experiences and outfits. Her social media following has grown to more than 35,000 on Instagram and 370,000 on TikTok where she also posts fashion and beauty content while educating people about disability.
And the winner of Influencer of the Year is Shelby Lynch.
It's such an honour to even be nominated for a Sense Award but it's even a bigger honour to actually win it.
I'm up against two amazing women that I also look up to so the Sense Award is absolutely incredible.
I'm just so happy and I really hope that 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.
The Outstanding Achievement for Fundraising Award.
We now have a special one-off award. It celebrates an individual who over the last year, has participated in an extraordinary fundraising challenge for Sense.
But first, some background.
Property developer Rob Lloyd back in 2019, raised an incredible £10,000 for Sense when he participated in the London Marathon.
Following a battle with cancer he returned to Sense, determined to provide more support, and was instrumental in helping us open shops in Wales, which now provide vital income for the charity.
However, it was in March of this year that Rob embarked on 12 months of challenges to raise money for Sense from jumping out of a plane and abseiling off a tower to scaling the highest peaks of the UK.
So far, Rob has raised over £60,000. Wow!
I'm delighted to award Rob Lloyd the Outstanding Achievement for Fundraising.
We are delighted to honour you Rob, with an Outstanding Achievement for Fundraising award as part of the 2021 Sense Awards, so, we would like to present you with this plaque.
Rob Lloyd thank you video
Good luck Rob. We’re all behind you.
Group of volunteers:
Thank you Rob!
Helen and Ernie Conway:
Thank you for all your amazing work! Families like ours are so grateful for your support and kindness.
Celebrity of the Year Award
The next category is Celebrity of the Year where we recognise exceptional public figures who are using their platforms to raise awareness and understanding of disability issues.
The nominees for Celebrity of the Year are...
Rosie is a comedian who has Cerebral palsy. She's best known for starring on the TV shows 8 Out Of 10 Cats and The Last Leg where she was the Tokyo based reporter during the Olympics.
Rosie wants to see more disabled comedians, directors, producers and commissioners working in television, and she hopes that disabled people will see her on TV in think if she can do it, I can do it.
As well as being the first deaf actress to star on EastEnders, Rose is the first deaf person to star on Strictly Come Dancing.
Her appearance on the show has made huge impact on deaf awareness. Searches for ‘learn sign language’ increased by more than 1000% during one episode of Strictly Come Dancing, and the BBC now has an option to watch the show with a BSL interpretator on BBC iPlayer after Rose explained to producers that this is much easier for many deaf people to follow than subtitles.
Dame Sarah Storey.
Dame Sarah is the most decorated Paralympian athlete in British history.
Ahead of this year's Paralympic Games in Tokyo, the swimmer turned cyclist spoke out about her experiences being bullied due to her disability during her youth.
She made history in Tokyo after claiming her 17th gold medal becoming Britain's most successful Paralympian.
And the winner is Rosie Jones.
Journalism of the Year Award
The next award is for Journalism of the Year. This award recognises the work of a journalist, media outlet or program in promoting positive change for disabled people.
I'm delighted to let you know the Journalist of the Year award goes to Darshna Soni at Channel 4.
Channel 4 News Home Affairs Correspondent Darshna, lead a report on the publication of the long-awaited National Disability Strategy. Campaigners and charities like Sense welcome some of the measures set out in the government's National Disability Strategy, but say the whole thing is lacking in scope and ambition.
Darshna’s five-minute report provided a fantastic platform for disabled people and their families to share their experience on the inequalities that they face every day and taking a deeper look at what the strategy may or may not be able to achieve.
Parliamentarian of the Year Award
The final award recognises the work of a parliamentarian in promoting positive change for disabled people.
I'm delighted to announce that the winner is Olivia Blake MP.
Olivia Blake has been instrumental in championing disabled children in Parliament in the last year. Chairing the All Party Parliamentary Group for Special Educational Needs and Disability, Olivia has led the delivery of an inquiry into the support disabled children and young people received last year during the pandemic.
The inquiry culminated in a hard-hitting report The inquiry culminated in a hard-hitting report on what needs to be done to ensure disabled children and their families can recover from the pandemic.
Olivia is also signed up as their disabled children's champion, committing to supporting disabled children and young people and their families as they recover from Covid-19 and sharing Disabled Children’s Partnership research with government.
Firstly, I would like to say a massive thank you to Sense for this award.
I'm so over the moon to have been recognised as Parliamentarian of the Year. Since entering parliament in 2019 I've made it one of my missions to be the voice for disabled people in parliament, both as the chair of the APPG on SEND and in my other work.
We've done a huge amount, jointly as an APPG to highlight the impact of Covid on young people going through our education system and I just hope that this award shows that that hard work has really paid off and we can continue to fight to end discrimination against disabled young people and others and make sure we are getting and others and make sure we are getting from government.
This brings us to the end of Sense Awards 2021. Thank you for watching.