We all need someone to stand up for us, someone to shout when we can’t be heard.
At last week’s Allergy UK Hero Awards, I was in a room full of those special people. They were advocaters, supporters, gamerchangers and lifesavers. I was lucky enough to be asked to be a judge for the awards and read some of these people’s stories.
Living with allergies can be a daily battle and even when it’s not a battle it is a bind. Your day to day activities need an extra level of scrutiny, every relationship or interaction has to have a little more thought. Having a strong support network and people you can trust is vital.
So it’s no wonder an exceptional teacher won the title of Overall Allergy Hero. She had been in my judging category and I was championing her from the start.
Jo Griffiths, from Surrey, recognised the signs of anaphylaxsis in her pupil Freddie and administered his epipen. Not only did she do this with courage, she also continued to support the family. She helped his mum deal with the anixety she felt after the incident and fought for the best allergy provision in her school.
It’s not just adults that can be heroes though. The child Hero award went to two special boys – identical twins Tom and Jamie Waggott. Jamie has a nut allergy and since being diagnised, has worked with his brother to produce a book and videos educating other children about allergies in a fun and age appropriate way.
Allergy Mum Sarah Chapman picked up an award after being nominated by her son and husband for her dedicated support. The amazing doctors and nurses who help allergy families across the country were also recognised with awards going to Dr Chakravati at Springfield hospital in Chelmsford and Dr Kumar and his team at City hospital. Sunderland.
It was an inspiring and emotional evening, especially a moving video by Riz Wahid who lost his young son Cameron to a milk allergy and is now supporting Allergy UK in his name.
It was important to celebrate the work Allergy UK has done over the last 25 years. Their helpline is an essential service that helps thousands of people. They talk to many parents of young children, when they are overwhelmed, confused or scared and don’t know where to turn. Their website is also a wealth of information, full of useful factsheets, a forum and training tools.
I feel honoured to have been at the event, to have been asked to be a judge and to be a small part of this supportive community.