MS Australia has announced Rachel Kerr as the recipient of the 2023 John Studdy Award. The award recognises outstanding service of 10 or more years, by someone making or who has made a tangible difference to the benefit of people living with multiple sclerosis and/or their families or carers. 

The late John Studdy was former chairman of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Australia, the forerunner of MS Australia

Kerr was diagnosed with MS in 2006 at 17 years of age, at a time when there was little support for people living with MS in regional Queensland.  Since her diagnosis, she has contributed to the Queensland community, advocating for the rights and wellbeing of regional people living with MS, leading numerous fundraising initiatives, ensuring vital services reach the MS community in remote areas of Central Queensland. Beyond fundraising Kerr has advocated for raising awareness of MS in young people, igniting conversations and dismantling stigmas surrounding the condition. 

“Living with MS has taught me resilience and has given me strength to help others in communities across Queensland,” she said. “Volunteering has enabled me to turn my MS into an asset, and I am very humbled to accept this award and to be recognised by one’s peers.”  

Among her voluntary contributions are:  Creating the first Central Queensland MS Swimathon in her hometown of Rockhampton, now in its eleventh year that has raised over $220,000;  set up a Young People with MS Rockhampton Support Group; created a Facebook group that encourages people to connect and discuss local services and their NDIS experiences; started a local MS Moonlight Walk, with her husband Shannon and her two children, that has inspired others to take part in the MS Readathon; worked with CQ University to promote a ‘Living well with MS’ 6-week program for newly diagnosed people that started in Rockhampton and is now available statewide. 

Photo: Rachel Kerr