International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the achievements of women. The MND community is powerful, and today we’re shining a spotlight on just some of the trailblazing women helping to beat MND together.


Yvonne Cropped
Eva Cropped
Sue H
Nicol Birsa Lab

Yvonne Johnson is a working mother who was diagnosed with MND in May 2021 after experiencing problems with her speech. After noticing that not many other people living with MND in the public eye looked like her, she decided to start raising awareness of MND through social media. Since then, Yvonne has provided lived experience and guidance to global technology giants like Dell, Intel and Google through her involvement in I will always be me and Project Relate, which will improve quality of life for thousands of people living with MND and other conditions that affect speech and communication.

Professor Eva Sundin was diagnosed with MND in October 2020, after living with MS for over 30 years. She is a clinical psychologist and academic at Nottingham Trent University, becoming a Professor of Psychology a year after being diagnosed with MND. Eva has written articles for the British Psychological Society’s Psychologist magazine, and The Conversation, to raise awareness of MND and the potential benefit of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the psychological wellbeing and health of people living with MND. She has also opened a research topic in Frontiers of psychiatry to collate research into psychological health and treatment for people with MND.

Sue Heal has been a dedicated Campaigns Volunteer with the MND Association for a number of years following the death of her husband, Jim, to MND.

Sue’s entry into campaigning came when she successfully influenced her council to adopt the MND Charter. Since then, Sue has become one of the MND Association’s most devoted campaigners, sharing her experiences at Association events, raising awareness of MND, working on the Act to Adapt campaign locally and taking part in our podcast episode on how campaigning works.

Nicol Birsa is a Lady Edith Wolfson Non-Clinical Fellow, who is interested in understanding what happens at the early stages of MND in the motor neurones.

Thanks to the Fellowship, Nicol hopes that her research project will identify molecules that can improve or stabilise innervation in MND, and delay disease progression and improve quality of life for people living with the condition.

Chloe & Cookie

Chloe Hanna is a fundraising extraordinaire. At just 23 years old, she raised over £7000 for the MND Association in the 2022 London Marathon in memory of her Nanny Evelyn, and she’s doing it all again in 2023. Chloe’s Nanny Evelyn died just two months after being diagnosed with MND in 2020. Now, Chloe’s doing everything she can to support the Association, including her local Northern Ireland Group. This year, she hopes to raise £4000, the amount needed to fund one person with MND to participate in a clinical trial for one year, bringing us one step closer to a world free from MND.

Lesley Connor started volunteering as an Association visitor in 2003, meaning she’ll have been volunteering with the Association for 20 years this May. Dedicating her free time to being an Association visitor and a helpline volunteer, Lesley has supported many people affected by MND over the past two decades. When asked what the most rewarding thing about her roles are, she said: “It’s a really rewarding thing to do. I gain something from every person I speak to. It's inspiring to see the way people cope with life and their MND diagnosis.”

There are hundreds of inspirational women across the UK doing amazing things right now to support the MND Community. Do you know a trailblazer? Celebrate them on social media using #IWD2023 and make sure to tag us:

Twitter @mndassoc
Facebook @mndassociation
Instagram @mndassoc

For further information and support contact our MND Connect helpline

mndconnect 0808 802 6262