2232. Zach Eagling
Zach Eagling, aged 12, from Hartshead, West Yorkshire, led the Epilepsy Society’s Zach’s Law campaign to protect people with epilepsy from online harm, after he was targeted by online trolls.
Zach has epilepsy and cerebral palsy which affects his mobility. During the Coronavirus pandemic, he was inspired by previous Point of Light, the late Captain Sir Tom Moore, to undertake a walking challenge in June 2020 around his garden for the Epilepsy Society when his fundraising page was targeted with content containing flashing images with deliberate intent to cause harm. Zach still completed his challenge and began a campaign with his mother, Claire, and the Epilepsy Society to introduce new legislation to safeguard people with photosensitive epilepsy from online trolls. Alongside this, they have been working closely with social media platforms in creating methods to prevent strobing images on the internet. Supported by MPs of all parties, ‘Zach’s Law’ was included with the Online Safety Act, passed in October 2023.
Zach was presented with his awards by the Prime Minister in the Prime Minister’s office in the Houses of Parliament. (Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
In a personal letter to Zach, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“Not only did you finish your sponsored walk, raising an incredible £20,000 for charity; you took on an even greater challenge: to fight for change.
“Zach’s Law means that hundreds of thousands of people with epilepsy now have stronger protections online. You have made our country a better place.
“That is an exceptional achievement, and you are an exceptional young man. I know your family and friends are very proud of you. And I am proud of you, too, because you have shown that we live in a country where it doesn’t matter where you come from, or whether you are a disabled person or not, anyone with a big idea and the energy to fight for it can change things.”
Congratulating Zach on his award, Zach’s local MP – and the UK’s 1000th Point of Light award recipient – Kim Leadbeater MBE, MP for Batley and Spen, said:
“I’m incredibly proud and delighted to congratulate Zach on his very well deserved Points of Light award. How many children of his age can say that they have successfully helped to change the law of the land? His campaign against the evil online trolling of people with epilepsy was inspirational and both he and his Mum, Claire, along with the Epilepsy Society, have made the internet a safer place. When the Online Safety Act was passed, and ‘Zach’s Law’ was finally a reality, it was a proud day for Zach and his family, for Hartshead where they live, and for Yorkshire. Working with Zach and taking him and his campaign to Parliament was a real pleasure and this award is a fantastic tribute to his hard work, good humour and determination.”
Kim Leadbeater received a Points of Light award herself in 2018 in recognition of her work on loneliness to build a positive legacy for her sister, Jo Cox.
“I want to thank the Prime Minister for recognising my hard work and I’m pleased and proud that I’ve managed to change the Law.”
Claire Keer, Zach’s Mum, said:
“We are all so proud of Zach. It is amazing to think that a schoolboy could stand up to the internet trolls and change the law, but Zach did it and this award is a wonderful recognition of his achievement. Our next step will be to see this law replicated worldwide as the internet is a global platform.”
Nicola Swanborough, Head of External Affairs at the Epilepsy Society said:
“It is wonderful to see Zach recognised through the Prime Minister’s Points of Light awards. Zach is an outstanding young man and an inspiration to his generation. His commitment to our Zach’s Law campaign has been unwavering. At just 12 years old, he has made the world a safer place for people with epilepsy. We are immensely proud of him and can think of no finer recipient to mark the New Year.”
See more about Zach’s Law: