A woman who supports people with a debilitating illness has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.
Pauline Donaldson, of King George Road, South Shields, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to people with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)and their carers.
I couldn’t believe it. It’s quite humbling to be recognised for something you’re passionate about and this is what I’m passionate about because I’ve been a sufferer since 1990.Pauline Donaldson
The mum-of-two was described as an “integral part” of the Sunderland and South Tyneside ME/CFS Support Group and charity, which has 200 members.
The condition causes symptoms such as debilitating fatigue, painful muscles and joints, and disordered sleep.
She said: “I couldn’t believe it. It’s quite humbling to be recognised for something you’re passionate about. I’m passionate about it because I’ve been a sufferer since 1990.
“This is just what I do and I do it because I’m still affected and I want to help other people who are too.”
Through the support group, Mrs Donaldson helps people in the North East and beyond living with ME and CFS.
She runs the charity’s help line and has been the driving force in a number of initiatives to inform and educate health professionals, support services, and the media.
Mrs Donaldson said: “I care deeply for the people in the support group and I have noticed over the last few years that there has been a shift in the recognition and acknowledgement of these conditions.
“Receiving this recognition is something else and keeping a secret has been unbelievable. I’m very honoured.”