Charity Champion or Volunteer of the Year nominee – Suzanne Bradley
Mum-of-two Suzanne Bradley was left disabled after contracting a rare neurological condition during the pandemic yet she continues to work full-time, fundraises for charity and volunteers for community organisations.
The 42-year-old spent more than five weeks in hospital after being temporarily paralysed by Idiopathic Transverse Myelitis. There is a one in a million chance of contracting the incurable disease.
“It came out of nowhere,” said Suzanne, from Blythe Bridge. “I’d been running and walking in the morning and by the afternoon I couldn’t walk and had lost the use of my bowel and bladder. Within three hours I was paralysed.
“I was unable to move and spent five weeks and three days in hospital. I couldn’t even move my big toe.”
Suzanne then went on to develop lymphoedema which has caused swelling throughout her body.
Now back at work full-time as a Health, Safety and Environmental Advisor for Unitas Stoke-on-Trent, Suzanne is able to walk with the aid of two sticks but has scarring to her spine and has been told she will never make a full recovery.
Determined to keep going and to set a good example for her children, aged 15 and 17, she has not just continued with her volunteering and fundraising activities she’s added to them.
Suzanne is a trustee and fundraising officer for Stoke Amateur Theatre Society where she raises money to enable children and adults to stage musicals and pantomimes.
She gives school talks about working in the construction industry and to encourage people with disabilities to pursue their chosen career.
She has also been a Girl Guide leader and has raised around £1,000 for charities including the HUBB Foundation, Dougie Mac and Macmillan.
Suzanne has been nominated as a Charity Champion or Volunteer of the Year in the Your Heroes Awards by Emma Starkey.
Emma said: “Suzanne is an inspirational individual. In May 2020 Suzanne was paralysed and has been fighting throughout with a rare neurological condition called Idiopathic Transverse Myelitis along with Lymphoedema and dyslexia.
“Suzanne has limited mobility and even though she went through a life changing condition which resulted in her being disabled she still went on to raise money for the Hubb Foundation and Dougie Mac during this period.
“She is a caring individual who puts others needs above her own. She also attends her Transverse Myelitis Group in Derby and is a Stoke City Supporter.
“To show how committed she is to enabling support and to how to cope when a tragic event happens she then became a trustee member and also the fundraising Officer for Stoke Amateur Theatre Society where she supports the charity to enable children and adults to perform shows.”
Suzanne said she was determined to keep going despite her poor health.
“At times I could have said I’ve had enough. That would be easy to do but it’s not me. I’ve always been mentally strong.
“I’m coming to terms with my health. I’m living my life and will still do the things that I want to do, it just takes more planning now. It’s about the mental mindset of how you change with life-changing conditions.”