EAST Grinstead’s Liz Glenister, volunteer and founder of Hypopara UK, has been named the winner of Britain’s Best Volunteer award. Liz faced stiff competition from hundreds of nominations for volunteers across Britain and reached the final alongside four other remarkable charity workers selected by award judges Judith Miller, Trustee of Small Charities Coalition, Andy Partington, the Director of Markel UK and Vicky Browning, Director of CharityComms.
Liz was named the winner following a close public vote and was presented with a cheque for £1,250 for Hypopara UK, as well as £1,000 in holiday vouchers for her own personal use.
On finding out she had won the Britain’s Best Volunteer award, Liz said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have won this award which I see as a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness about the rare condition, hypoparathyroidism, and our small but far-reaching charity, Hypopara UK.
“We are raising funds for vital stem cell research at the moment so this prize will really help. Thank you to everyone who voted, to my committee who nominated me and well done to all the finalists who all work so hard and represent such worthy causes.”
Liz, 61, founded Hypopara UK in July 2005 after her experience of living with undiagnosed brittle hypoparathyroidism following surgery for thyroid cancer in 1992.
She was inspired to do something after finding there was little information about hypoparathyroidism (a condition where a diminished concentration of parathyroid hormone causes deficiencies in calcium and phosphorus, leading to muscular spasms and kidney problems) available to those diagnosed with the condition.
After receiving a £300 start-up loan from the Hypopara Association in the US, she grew the online forum to 200 members in a short space of time and started building a team of highly regarded specialists.
Since then, Liz has produced numerous information leaflets for health organisations, set up two telephone helplines for sufferers, assisted other hypopara charities around the world (most recently in Australia) and contributed to the BTA Thyroid Cancer guidelines, all whilst raising a family and managing her own hypoparathyroidism condition.
Aisling Duffy, who nominated Liz alongside Isabel Wray da Silva, said “This charity has changed my life and I owe it all to Liz – without her all Hypoparathyroidism sufferers would still be unaware of the help and information out there.”
Photo top: Liz (right) and her nominator, Isabel. Below – Liz talks about her charity