Lloyd PageThe winners of the Learning Disability Today Champion Awards were announced at the Learning Disability Today conference and exhibition last week, celebrating some of the people who have made a positive difference to the sector in the past 15 years.

In all, 4,188 votes were cast across the five categories – academic lead, public sector professional, person with a learning disability, charity and not-for-profit and family carer or advocate. Voting was open to the public through the Learning Disability Today website.

The winners were:

Academic lead: Eric Emerson, professor of disability population health at the University of Sydney, Australia. He is also emeritus professor of disability and health research at Lancaster University and was founding co-director of England’s specialist Public Health Observatory on learning disability. He is vice-president of IASSIDD, the international community of researchers and research centres in intellectual and developmental disability, and is responsible for managing IASSIDD’s work program with the World Health Organization. He has been a member of several advisory groups to government and non-government organisations and has researched and written widely about the health and wellbeing of people with learning disabilities

Public sector professional: Jim Blair, consultant nurse intellectual (learning) disabilities at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and associate professor intellectual (learning) disabilities at Kingston University and St Georges’ University of London as well as the health advisor at the British Institute of Learning Disabilities. He is also a specialist clinical advisor to the Care Quality Commission and a clinical expert with NHS England

Person with a learning disability: Lloyd Page (pictured above receiving his award from Pavilion's Jan Alcoe): he has been a volunteer for Mencap for 21 years.  He is also a spokesperson on health and wellbeing and is part of the Learning Disability Interview Panel.  Lloyd loves watching football, and is a big Chelsea fan. He also enjoys listening to music. He also did his own stand-up comedy routine at the Learning Disability Today conference and exhibition

Charity and not-for-profit: Vivien Cooper:  Viv’s son Daniel has severe learning disabilities (SLD) and behaviour described as challenging. In 1997, Viv founded the Challenging Behaviour Foundation (CBF), a charity providing information and support to professionals and families caring for individuals with SLD and behaviour described as challenging. Viv participates in a range of groups and networks at local, regional and national level. The CBF also works strategically and established the Challenging Behaviour – National Strategy Group, which Viv chairs

Family carer or advocate: Yvonne Newbold:  the author of the Amazon #1 best seller The Special Parent’s Handbook, the book she wishes someone had been able to give her the day her son, Toby, was born, which is full of all the tips, tricks and strategies that parents of children with learning disabilities really need to know. Yvonne speaks at conferences, writes extensively, supports parents online through her Facebook page, and works with public sector organisations to help shape better services for people with learning disabilities. She has also developed a series of workshops for parents and for professionals. Yvonne wants to see kindness prioritised over and above bureaucracy in every corner of our statutory services. Yvonne is having on-going treatment for stage 4 breast cancer.

“The awards were a great way to honour some of the people who have made a positive contribution to the learning disability sector over the past 15 years, who all too often don’t get the recognition they deserve,” said Dan Parton, editor of Learning Disability Today. 

“It was a difficult task to get down to an initial shortlist of candidates before the voting process was opened, and some very deserving people didn’t make the list.

“All of the winners thoroughly deserve their awards and that they were voted for by the public makes it that bit more special. I’d like to congratulate the winners, as well as all those who were nominated – they are all champions.” 

For more information from the day, search for #LDTLondon15 to read tweets from the day – including reactions to the winners of the awards – and view pictures from the event.