Berkhamsted poet with learning disability up for Person of the Year award for overcoming challenges during the pandemic

Clare Manley also co-authored a book of poetry about her experience

By Laura Hutchinson
Friday, 29th October 2021, 2:22 pm
Updated Friday, 29th October 2021, 4:02 pm

A woman who overcame challenges during the pandemic and co-created a book of poetry about her experience has been shortlisted for an award by the national disability charity, Sense.

Clare Manley, 47, from Berkhamsted is in the running for the Person of the Year Award.

The pandemic has been challenging for Clare, who has a learning disability and requires daily support from carers to complete everyday tasks.

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Clare Manley

Clare had to shield due to health problems and, as a result, her carers couldn’t visit her at home and she was left completely isolated.

After weeks of not seeing anyone in person, Clare made the difficult decision to temporarily return to the home of her elderly parents, having worked hard to live independently.

She also faced numerous cancellations and delays of hospital appointments during the pandemic.

However, Clare continued to work for the NHS in a part-time role as an Access Health Champion, determined to adapt to online working so she could advocate for the needs of patients with a learning disability.

She also co-created a poetry collection, Growing Wild: The Pandemic Through the Eyes of a Poet with Learning Disabilities, and wrote a poem for Pascal Theatre's Giving Voice project.

Clare Manley said: "I really enjoyed and worked very hard to put the Growing Wild book together and I am very excited to be considered for this award.”

Sense Chief Executive, Richard Kramer, said: “We’re delighted to shortlist Clare for the 2021 ‘Person of the Year’ Award.

"The pandemic has been an extremely challenging time for us all, but disabled people have been some of the hardest hit.

"It’s wonderful that Clare was able to overcome the difficulties she faced throughout the last 18 months and has created something positive that will inspire others.

"We congratulate her on her achievements and wish her all the best for the future.”

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 on November 25.