Charlie Bennett: husband, carer, advocate, ambassador, fundraiser and finalist for Influencer of the Year
Charlie Bennett certainly has influence and this year, he was a national finalist for ‘Influencer of the Year’ at the Third Sector Awards.
The Third Sector Awards recognise outstanding members of the not-for-profit sector from across Australia. Almost 200 not-for-profit champions came together at the awards in Sydney on 24 September.
The Influence of the Year award is designed to recognise the impact and achievements of an individual that has made a significant impact on the third sector.
Here’s some of Charlie’s nomination:
Charlie Bennett is not your stereotypical “influencer” as a man in his 60s but Charlie’s influence is undeniable. Charlie embodies passion and an overwhelming commitment to supporting people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) whether it’s through fundraising, advocacy, or simply providing support to the local MS community and acting as a full-time carer for his wife Jenny who lives with MS.
Jenny, Charlie’s wife, was diagnosed with MS in 1973 when she was just 15 and in Year 10 at school. Jenny is now in her 60s and has been living with MS for more than 40 years. Jenny and Charlie have been married for 38 years. Jenny’s MS has progressed over the years and as her mobility decreased, her use of walking aids and equipment has increased. She now uses an electric wheelchair in day to day life. Jenny sometimes suffers from episodes and falls and Charlie’s always there for the caring support she needs. Charlie affectionately calls Jenny ‘my little Ferret’ and says “she’s the whole reason I get up every day”. The love and commitment between them is evident and enviable to all who have the pleasure of their company. Nothing is too much trouble for Charlie who tends to Jenny’s every daily need. He has a positive, optimistic nature and is always wearing a smile. I’m sure if Jenny had the opportunity to write this nomination, she’d say she couldn’t live without him and he’s her rock!
When Charlie made the decision to stop working to become Jenny’s full time carer, they created a new life of volunteering, fundraising, spreading awareness and participating in various MS related events and activities. He’s the chair of the local support group, is the top fundraiser for MS Queensland’s flagship fundraising event the MS Brissie to the Bay bike ride having raised more than $100,000 over the years, is an MS ambassador, has created his own fundraising event, is rarely seen without an MS t-shirt on, consistently reaches out to politicians to remind them of the impacts of MS, and is forever planning his next fundraising initiative whether it’s a Bunnings BBQ or shaking coin tins at the front of the local pub at 10pm.
Although Charlie didn’t win his category, he’s a winner in our eyes and being recognised amongst the other finalists is an achievement in itself.