The vital role that Celia Marshall is playing in giving a voice to residents with myalgic encephalopathy (ME) has been recognised.
Celia took on the role of chairman of ME Support (Isle of Man) when she heard the charity faced closure because the team who were running it had ME and were finding it too much.
Under her leadership, the committee has been campaigning with great success for improved medical services on-island.
Last year saw Dr Helen Greig appointed GP champion for ME and the charity funded an afternoon of training from three professionals from the UK for all the island’s GPs.
And they have been working with the Manx health service on plans for an ME service – a business case is due to be presented to the Department of Health and Social Care shortly.
Another key aim is to raise awareness about the illness among the public, medical professionals and government officials, in order to improve the support given to ME patients.
Earlier this month the charity flew Sonja Chowdhurry, chief executive of UK charity Action for ME to the island to give evidence to the Tynwald social affairs committee investigating personal capability payments.
Celia has been nominated in the Charity and Volunteers category of the Steam Packet Pride in Mann Awards by Port St Mary resident Craig Morris.
Craig, who had a delayed diagnosis and seriously suffers with the illness, described Celia as having a ‘massive heart’.
‘Celia swooped in over a year ago to save our charity from collapse,’ he explained.
‘As ME sufferers we were too ill to cope and the charity was to close.
‘Since she joined she has transformed lives and spoken up for a very ill, stigmatised and vulnerable group with real passion, commitment and vision.’
Craig said that ME could be a very isolating condition but that the support group made an enormous difference.
‘It feels so much better feeling that you’re not alone and that there are other people on the island with the same illness,’ he said.
‘Celia started monthly social meetings people can go along to if they’re feeling well enough.’
The charity has grown to 173 members, of whom 122 are ME sufferers, and the remainder are carers or supporters. It’s estimated there are 350 sufferers in the island.
Celia has lived with her husband in Onchan for 26 years. She was a teacher and the couple then ran a bed and breakfast for seven years.
Celia said that she felt humbled to be nominated by Craig, saying: ‘Craig is very much the brains behind everything that I as chairman, and the charity as a whole, can achieve.
‘He used to be head of English at King William’s College.
‘Now he spends what little energy he has researching up to date information, and networking with experts in UK over the net.’