I have been volunteering and doing charity work for 26 years all over the United Kingdom. It all began in 1996 when I was diagnosed with four types of arthritis at age 15.
I am a warrior of many invisible illnesses, I try to live life to my fullest but sometimes it can be very hard to do so. I am excited to be the first IDA Ambassador in the United Kingdom.
IDA Ambassador – United Kingdom
Claire Maxted Wiggins has been volunteering and doing charity work for 26 years all over the U.K It all began in 1996 when Claire was 17 years old. Claire was diagnosed with four types of arthritis at age 15, her mum and grandad nominated her to become a volunteer for Young Arthritis Care (a charity based in the U.K to help Babies, Children, Teens and Youngsters deal with their diagnosis, offering support for them, and their families and caregivers, now Versus Arthritis) and her role was Teenage Contact for North East England. Claire did this role for three years and was given a Millennium Award in 1999 for the work she did for the charity. This is where her story began. Even since then Claire has raised over £65,000 for various charities in the U.K and around the world.
A moment in my life I will not forget is carrying the Olympic torch in 2012 as part of the London 2012 Olympics. I was one of 8,000 torchbearers who took part and was nominated because of my charity and volunteer work!
I am a warrior of many invisible illnesses, I try to live life to my fullest but sometimes it can be very hard to do so. Sometimes I do use a stick and wheelchair and on good days I may look ok, and people associate arthritis with the elderly and as you know that’s not the case. Even in this day and age people can be very judgmental and in the past I have been bullied for looking ok, people can be mean, it felt like I had to prove myself all the time. Now that I am a UK ambassador for IDA, I hope that changes. I have Psoriatic arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Osteo arthritis, Hyper mobility syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Costochondritis, Asthma, Anxiety, PTSD, Psoriasis, Cushing’s syndrome, the list goes on.
You would have no idea looking at me, at 42 years old, I look completely fine, and you would think I am fit and healthy, but sadly that is not the case. I haven’t been able to work since 2011. But I always remain positive and try my best in all I do.
My heart and soul is helping others and raising awareness and funds for charities. I hope one day in the future that there will be a cure for Cancer and other diseases. There must be something out there. I appreciate all the scientists and researchers out there doing everything they can to help those fighting chronic illness and diseases.
I hope one day people with disabilities will stop being judged and that times will change to end the stigma surrounding people who have visible and invisible disabilities or who are disabled. I will do all I can for IDA, and will never give up doing charity work, or fundraising, or volunteering. I will do all I can until my last breath to help others in need.