Back to The Learning Disability and Autism Leaders’ List 2018

Our Winner: Willow Holloway

Category: Advocacy, policy and media

My mom has had to deal with her own challenges and health conditions. I really feel she greatly deserves recognition.

Advocating for autistic women

Willow didn’t get diagnosed with autism until she was 44 – she grew up not fully understanding who she was. But since then she has worked tirelessly to advocate for girls and women with autism.

Willow was nominated under the ‘Advocacy’ category for a reason: she’s created her own organisation and works with many others to improve the recognition of autism in girls and women, as well as raising awareness and promoting equal rights. Her video explains this a little more…

AWE inspiring

In 2014 Willow founded The Autistic Women’s Empowerment Project (AWE).

AWE is a user-led network that first started as an awareness raising project. Now it campaigns for recognition, acceptance and equality for autistic women and girls across Wales.

Here she works with fellow Learning Disability and Autism Leader Phoebe, who is their Youth Ambassador and winner in our Work and education category.

Working together to make a difference

Willow takes every opportunity to make a difference. If you work in the autism field in Wales, you will probably have connected with her.

Her extensive range of representative roles is testament to the difference she is making.

Autistic UK, Disability Wales, The Fair Treatment for the Women of Wales and the National Autistic Taskforce are just some of the organisations who benefit from her input and expertise.

She’s also been the co-organiser of the North Wales Autism Conference and often takes opportunities to get involved at other events.

Training and educating others

She uses her extensive knowledge of autism from both a professional and personal perspective to teach others.

Willow has facilitated and delivered training to the police, spoken at conferences and events, ran interactive workshops and presented at a cross-party autism group.

This is just a drop in the ocean – she takes as many opportunities as possible to help people understand autism better. She’s doing this at all levels and is helping improve the future for people with autism.

Hard work doesn’t go unnoticed

Willow is a modest woman, but she received two nominations to the Leaders’ List which both make it absolutely clear how much she’s achieved and how dedicated she is.

“My mom has had to deal with her own challenges and health conditions. She does not like attention, and prefers to work away behind the scenes but I really feel she greatly deserves recognition of the work she does.” – Anne

She’s also received Supporter of the Year at the Createasmile Awards 2016, Adult Achiever at the North Wales and West Disability Awards 2017 and was a finalist in the Jo Cox Award 2018.

Behind all of this incredible experience and work is a kind, selfless and driven woman. Willow has done so much to help others. She’s reached out to other organisations and groups who can help, while setting up her own. We’re proud to have her as one of our winners.

Get in touch about this story

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