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SHA youth ambassador shortlisted for national charity award

Bruce Wilson at HD Conference

Run annually by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), the Scottish Charity Awards celebrate the best of Scotland’s voluntary sector.  

This year’s shortlist includes 45 individuals and organisations from charities and voluntary groups across the country. While a judging panel will determine the winners under eight distinct categories, members of the public can have their say by voting for their favourite overall entry in the People’s Choice Award.

Scottish Huntington’s Association (SHA) youth ambassador and fundraiser Bruce Wilson, from Edinburgh, has been recognised as a finalist in the Charity Champion category. He is also in the running for the People’s Choice Award and  SHA is encouraging people from the HD community, and beyond, to vote for Bruce by visiting scvo.org.uk/vote before the closing date on Friday, 4 September at 5pm.

Bruce, 20, has been a volunteer with SHA for the past six years, taking part in numerous fundraising and outreach activities, including trekking along the Great Wall of China, organising quiz nights, becoming a youth ambassador to support other young people growing up in families living with Huntington’s disease, and delivering a keynote address at the 2019 SHA family conference.

His efforts have raised more than £4000 and in 2019, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the charity, Bruce was named SHA’s Young Volunteer of the Year.

Bruce, who juggles volunteering with his studies at Heriot Watt University and working part-time for Tesco, said:

“I was 14 years old when I first received support from SHA after finding out that my father, Graham, has Huntington’s disease and that I’m at 50% risk of developing it too. I’m very excited to be shortlisted for this award as it will hopefully allow me to continue my plan to raise as much awareness as possible about Huntington’s disease and give back for all the amazing support I have received.

“Volunteering with SHA helps me to support my parents, raise awareness about the work of the charity, and help others who are also impacted by Huntington’s disease.”

Huntington’s disease is incurable and causes loss of motor function, affecting movement, mobility, speech and the ability to swallow. Mental symptoms include changes in personality and behaviour, mood swings and serious psychiatric illness. As the disease progresses, 24-hour-care can become necessary, which means the affected person leaving the family home and loved ones.

While witnessing the terrible toll of the illness, children of an parent with Huntington’s disease grow up knowing there is a 50% chance that they have inherited the faulty gene, meaning they too will go on to develop the devastating symptoms.

SHA Chief Executive John Eden said:

“I’ll be voting for Bruce, a fantastic volunteer who goes above and beyond to spread the word about Huntington’s disease and the work of SHA. He’s always the first to lend a hand, whether it’s appearing in SHA videos or supporting with fundraising, and it has been our privilege to watch Bruce grow in confidence, use his talents and share his own experiences to help other families and young people.”

Due to the impact of coronavirus, this year the Awards will run a little differently. Winners will be announced on 25 September and will now take place online so that all finalists and attendees who wish to attend are able to join the celebrations in a safe way, regardless of lockdown phase or shielding status.

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