Five years ago, Lucy Dawson developed inflammation of the brain and lost the use of a leg.
Now a successful model and disability campaigner, the 25-year-old has been praised by the disability charity, Sense, and shortlisted for the ‘Influencer of the Year’ award.
The award celebrates influencers who raise awareness about disability and promote inclusion across society through their large audiences on social media.
Sense chief executive, Richard Kramer, said: “Lucy has been on an incredible journey and we’re delighted to recognise the work she is doing to normalise disability.
“She has a huge and diverse following on social media, reaching and engaging with her audience with a positive and inclusive message.”
At the age of 20, Lucy was studying at the University of Leicester, but in the summer of 2016, she started to develop a headache that would change her life.
Lucy’s headaches were followed by confusion, personality change and hallucinations classic symptoms of Encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain that leaves many people with permanent brain damage.
Lucy, however, was misdiagnosed with a breakdown and sectioned for three and a half months in a psychiatric ward.
By the time she was discharged from hospital, she not only still had a serious acquired brain injury, she was physically disabled, too.
A seizure she suffered resulted in her falling out of her hospital bed on to an exposed radiator pipe which burned through her sciatic nerve and left her left leg paralysed below the knee.
Five years on and Lucy is still paralysed in her left leg, but has made a good recovery from her encephalitis.
She is now a disability campaigner, successful model and an ambassador for disabled modelling.
Lucy, who has grown a huge social media following, including more than 250,000 followers on TikTok. She is up against two other disabled influencers, Lucy Edwards and Shelby Lynch.
Lucy said: “To be listed in this category is such a great compliment, furthered by the fact that I am lucky enough to know both Lucy Edwards and Shelby personally and follow their journey with advocacy and disability.
“I’m so proud to be included alongside these amazing people and so thankful that our hard work is being recognised.
“It’s so important for there to be positive disabled influencers in the online space and I am thrilled any time I receive a message of thanks or support from anyone in the community which has helped me so much along my own path from my brain disease, to becoming physically disabled and beyond.”
The Sense Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of people with complex disabilities, as well as the staff, carers, family members, volunteers and fundraisers who support them.
Winners will be announced at an online ceremony on November 25.
For more information about the Sense Awards visit: sense.org.uk/sense-awards/