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"Inspiring” brain injury charity volunteer shortlisted for national award Main Image

"Inspiring” brain injury charity volunteer shortlisted for national award

Thu 07 Nov 2019

A volunteer who has helped to set up a carers group to support others coping with life after brain injury has been shortlisted for a national award.

Sharon Hargreaves, from Stockport, will join just two other finalists chosen from across the UK to be in the running for the title of Volunteer of the Year at the national brain injury awards ceremony organised by Headway – the brain injury association.

The accolade, sponsored by Anthony Gold Solicitors, will be presented at a star-studded ceremony at InterContinental Hotel in Mayfair, London on Friday 6, December.

Sharon started attending charity Headway Stockport, with her husband Brian who is a brain injury survivor, around three years ago.

She felt very emotional when she found out she had been nominated.

She said: “I felt very proud that our group thought such a lot of me and believed I deserved such a nomination. I was overwhelmed with shock, and then tears, it’s lovely that they all appreciate the things I do.”

After making sure her husband had settled in, Sharon started volunteering at the weekly drop-in session and started to support new members.

She then joined the groups committee in 2017 and has gradually increased her duties, including booking transport for people attending the sessions, organising trips and supporting members when they are going through particularly difficult periods.

Sharon said she loves welcoming new members to what she calls her ‘growing family’.

She said: “I get a lot of satisfaction to see new members grow in confidence and to feel they can enjoy their time with us in a safe and happy environment.

“It makes me feel like I have made a difference to others and I want to continue to support them, their family and carers, for many years to come. It want to give that little bit of something back for all the support Headway has given Brian, myself and our family, which I will always be grateful for."

Sharon’s biggest achievement though is setting up Headway Stockport’s Carers’ Group.

Sharon sourced the venue, made plans to meet and help to co-ordinate its activities. The number of people benefiting from the Carers’ Group has increased and she regularly supports around 15 families at her sessions. All this, in less than a year.

Sharon said: “I always knew there was something out there for me in my life where I could make a difference and when we walked into Headway that Wednesday afternoon, I realised I had found it.”

Sharon was nominated by Suzanne Guest, who also volunteers at the group based at Bridge Hall Community Centre.

Suzanne said: “Sharon is an absolute superstar and deserves this award. She is an inspiring presence at our group and helps everyone showing such humility. She is always open to sharing her own stories about the reality of caring for a loved one with a brain injury, which I know is a great comfort to many of our members.

“And remember, she does all this whilst also being a full-time carer. Sharon is living proof that volunteers are not paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”

The Volunteer of the Year will be named at a glittering ceremony on Friday 6, December, along with awards for the Achiever, Carer and Campaigner of the Year, and the Stephen McAleese Outstanding Contribution to Headway Award.

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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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