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Derby woman dedicated to improving the lives of brain injury survivors up for national award Main Image

Derby woman dedicated to improving the lives of brain injury survivors up for national award

Tue 07 Nov 2023

A Derby woman who became a dedicated volunteer following redundancy is a finalist for a prestigious award from UK charity Headway – the brain injury association.

Joy Walsh, 67, from Mickleover, became involved with her local brain injury charity, Headway Derby in 2006. She has been committed to its mission to improve the lives of people with brain injuries ever since.

Subsequently, Joy is now one of just three finalists for Headway's Volunteer of the Year Award. The national accolade, sponsored by Anthony Gold Solicitors LLP, will be presented by Headway – the brain injury association, at its glittering awards ceremony on December 8 at the Landmark London hotel.

She was nominated by Emma Morris from Headway Derby, who explained the crucial role Joy plays. 

“Joy has been supporting Headway Derby for over 14 years and does so much. She was the admin assistant and volunteer coordinator for Headway Derby. Due to funding cuts, Headway Derby unfortunately had to make Joy's role redundant, so she stepped down as a paid employee. 

However, she continued supporting Headway Derby as a volunteer and has continued to do so ever since. Whenever Headway Derby needs support, Joy is the first to put herself forward.

She volunteers in many ways, supporting our administration, fundraising events, and Joy is also instrumental in the back office running of Headway Derby.

Joy also independently advocates for Headway Derby. Recently, she contacted local Members of Parliament to showcase the work Headway Derby does and to enable the organisation to get the recognition it deserves. 

She is a determined person who always strives to achieve the best possible outcomes for brain injury survivors and their families in Derby and Derbyshire.

We can't thank her enough for the continued support she has always given to Headway Derby, but more so now than ever."

Joy said:

"When I became Headway's part-time paid administrator, I knew nothing about brain injury, but I quickly got to know the members at Derby, and I was soon hooked; I really enjoyed lending a hand whenever possible.

In 2012, I became Volunteer Coordinator, which had funding that ended after two years. When this happened, I retired early to spend time with my newly retired husband and my aged father.

Retirement didn't last long, as I was soon back voluntarily helping with admin, with catering, going out on trips, events, and pretty much anything really, so I never really left.

I've seen many changes since the early days. I've helped to move premises four times - enlisting the help of various family members, particularly my husband Tony, who volunteers at our allotment garden. 

Our services looked very different after lockdown and funding hasn’t been easy, so I just do as much as I can to support Emma and the team to try and make sure we are here for everyone with brain injuries.”

Despite her hard work, Joy said she is surprised to be a finalist for Headway’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

“I don't know why I was singled out for this award, not over and above anyone else. We are very much a team of volunteers at Headway Derby, but I was speechless, somewhat overwhelmed, tearful, humbled, very flattered and very excited all at the same time.

To have been nominated is an honour enough, but to have been selected as an overall finalist is amazing!"


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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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