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Sussex woman inspired by personal tragedies wins national award Main Image

Sussex woman inspired by personal tragedies wins national award

Fri 08 Dec 2023

A Sussex woman who lost her husband and son in tragic circumstances has won a national award from UK charity Headway – the brain injury association.

Each year, Headway holds a glittering awards ceremony at the Landmark London hotel, celebrating the achievements and contributions of people with brain injuries and those who support them.

Judy Tilbury is 83 and lives in Hassocks. She first became involved with her local brain injury charity Headway Sussex in 1996, following the killing of her twenty-four-year-old son Mathew. He was struck on the head with a baseball bat while trying to break up a fight and died of a severe brain injury nine days later.

"Mathew was an innocent bystander," said Judy. "It was just dreadful, and it affected our family so much because he was so young."

Despite her terrible loss and the fact she suffered a heart attack in her grief, Judy decided she wanted to support others affected by brain injury.

So since losing Mathew, she has been an active part of Headway Sussex raising a staggering £30,000 for the charity over the years using her incredible talent for creating beautiful handmade items.

Tragically, Judy also lost her husband Roy to a brain tumour in 2010. However, she has used his death as further motivation to support Headway Sussex, although in recent times she has also had to battle lung cancer.

Judy's incredible efforts mean she has won the Stephen McAleese Outstanding Contribution to Headway Award. The accolade, sponsored by No5 Barristers Chambers, was presented by Olympic gold medallist and Headway Vice President James Cracknell at the Landmark London hotel.

When asked how it feels to win, Judy said: "It's just such an honour. To me, it's not fundraising. It's just a part of me. I'm so very surprised and so very happy."

Judy was nominated for the award by a Trustee at Headway Sussex, Michele Fleming.

"She is a truly dedicated supporter of Headway," said Michele.

"From the time of Mathew's death, Judy has worked tirelessly and selflessly to help raise funds for Headway Sussex in Mathew's and her beloved husband's memory.

"She has never sought recognition for all she does. The decision to nominate her came from our staff, trustees and service users at Headway Sussex.

"She fully understands the terrible impact of brain injury and knows only too well that many people need support."

Luke Griggs, Chief Executive of Headway – the brain injury association, said:

"The immense strength, bravery and generosity of spirit Judy has shown in the face of unimaginable personal tragedy is astounding. "She has made a real and lasting difference to the lives of others while paying a touching tribute to the memory of her beloved Roy and Mathew."
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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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