Crohn’s Awareness Raising Champion
1997. Amy Dowden
Amy Dowden, from Caerphilly, has been raising awareness of Crohn's disease and documenting what it can be like to live with a condition such as Crohn's.
After experiencing bouts of illness from childhood that caused her to be in and out of hospital, Amy was officially diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 19 years old, but did not speak publicly about the condition until ten years later in 2019, for fear of facing discrimination and losing out on jobs. Amy has since shared her story on social media to over 300,000 followers and on TV, starring in a BAFTA Cymru winning 2020 documentary ‘Crohn’s and Me’ and showing the realities of living with regular flare ups and symptoms including extreme abdominal pain, vomiting, exhaustion and diarrhoea. An ambassador for ‘Crohn’s and Colitis UK’, Amy also advocates more widely about body shaming and calling out the bullying comments that perpetuate the stigma around invisible illnesses and disabilities.
Amy was presented with her award by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Mrs Akshata Murty at a St David’s Day reception in 10 Downing Street (pictured below – credit: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street).
In a personal letter to Amy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“As we mark St David’s Day, and celebrate all that is special about Wales and its people, I wanted to thank you for all that you are doing to raise awareness of Crohn’s disease and other invisible conditions.
“The courage with which you have used your public profile to speak about your own experience of Crohn’s is helping more people than you will ever know. You are giving them the confidence to talk about their own conditions. You are inspiring them to achieve their own dreams while living with a chronic illness. And you are tackling the stigma so wrongly associated with these invisible health conditions.”
Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies, said:
“Amy has made an incredible impact with her decision to talk about her experience of Crohn’s Disease and I’m delighted that this has been recognised by an award from the Prime Minister. She is a truly inspiring person who has encouraged so many people to share their own stories. And by raising the profile of diseases, like Crohn’s, Amy has helped countless more understand what it is like to live with an invisible health condition.
“Congratulations to Amy on her well-deserved Points of Light Award.”
“I could not be more thrilled to receive a Points of Light Award, which I accept on behalf of all sufferers of Crohn’s Disease and the amazing people at the charity ‘Crohn’s and Colitis UK’. It is no one’s favourite topic but I hope it inspires more people to talk about gut health and seek a diagnosis. I am honoured to be invited to 10 Downing Street, and on St David’s Day too!”