MDUK is delighted to announce the winners of its President’s Awards 2021, in recognition of those in our community who go above and beyond the call of duty to help make muscles matter.
Throughout January, we enlisted the help of celebrities including an Olympic athlete, TV presenters and other sporting stars to celebrate with our unsuspecting winners in a series of surprise virtual ceremonies.
The six awards recognise success over the past 12 months - a year like no other - in fundraising, caring, volunteering, community engagement and research, as well as an outstanding achievement award.
We are so excited to share details of our very worthy winners below:
1. Fundraiser of the Year: Sam Taylor.
In 2021 Sam launched the Duchenne Research Relay – a major fundraising event where 19 cyclists completed a 380-mile bike ride from London to Newcastle via Oxford and Liverpool. Their journey took them to the UK's four neuromuscular centres and raised a staggering £43,000 for our charity. Sam and his team never faltered in their determination, even when cycling conditions were gruelling and despite having had to postpone the event because of the pandemic until 2021. Sam's grit is inspired by the bravery of his son, Will (aged 12), who lives with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
2. Volunteer of the Year: Patricia Lock
Throughout the past year, Patricia Lock has been a beacon of light to those she supports in her volunteering. Her time, expertise, and valued perspective makes a huge difference to the work of the charity. Patricia lives with congenital myopathy and uses her experience to chair the Milton Keynes Muscle Group, chats with others as a peer support volunteer and sits on our Joseph Patrick Trust panel. She helps people realise that they can still do things in their own way and live fulfilling lives, and she does so with warmth, friendliness and compassion.
3. Richard Attenborough Award for Outstanding Achievement: Carmela and Lucy-Chillery Watson
In a year that brought fear and darkness, mother and daughter duo Carmela and Lucy brought colour, courage, and ambition to make muscles matter. The pair led a number of national and local fundraising drives and have helped MDUK raise more than £125,000 over the years. They have also raised the profile of LMNA-CMD during the pandemic, and even hosted a series of Joe Wicks style workouts for children living with muscle-wasting conditions. Their commitment and dedication has made a huge difference to those in our community.
4. Peter and Nancy Andrews Community Achievement: Lorna Fillingham
Changing Places campaigner Lorna Fillingham is the very worthy winner of this inaugural award, which honours lifelong MDUK supporters Peter and Nancy Andrews. Lorna has taken her tireless campaigning to Downing Street, and she regularly meets with government ministers and departments to lobby for better Changing Places provision. Most recently she has been involved in encouraging local authorities to bid for a portion of £30m funding to install more of these vital toilets across England.
5. Early Career Scientist of the Year: Amy Vincent
This award recognises the outstanding success of a scientist dedicating their career to helping find treatments and cures for muscle-wasting conditions. Amy Vincent is an exemplary winner in this category and is making fundamental discoveries, which will hopefully contribute towards the development of new treatments. Amy has an outstanding research publication record, has shown tremendous leadership qualities and has even been awarded the highly prestigious Henry Wellcome fellowship. Her outstanding commitment to public and patient engagement in leading several events for patients with muscle disease mean she is undoubtedly a future research leader.
6. Alexander and Valerie Patrick Award for Carer of the Year: Shelley Simmonds
Alexander and Valerie Patrick were lifelong supporters of Muscular Dystrophy UK, and their eponymous award recognises outstanding and selfless commitment, values that could not be more aligned with Shelley Simmonds. Shelley works full time, has campaigned on a huge range of issues from shielding and vaccination of children during the pandemic, speaks with newly-diagnosed families and gives a voice to the community through her popular blog Fraser & Friends, providing hope to those in the Duchenne community. Her positivity and knowledge has been described as “an oasis in what can sometimes be a sea of pity”.
Winners only found out they'd won during a virtual 'meeting' with CEO Catherine Woodhead before they were then surprised with their award. Some celebrities even got involved to help, including our current President Gabby Logan, Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman, and TV news anchor Julie Etchingham.
Catherine said: “We were completely blown away by the dozens of nominations we received for our President’s Awards 2021. This judging process was harder than ever, and we are exceptionally thankful to our President Gabby Logan who has been heavily involved in the process from start to finish, and even presented two of our very worthy winners with the awards herself! We’re sending a huge congratulations to all our 2021 President’s Award winners and thank them for their outstanding achievements to help make muscles matter.”