Former travel agent Mia Austin, who had locked-in syndrome, has died.
Austin, who worked for The Co-operative Travel in Heswall in Merseyside , passed away on Wednesday last week – two days before being named Merseyside Woman of the Year 2019 and Inspirational Woman of the Year.
Mia’s family asked if the accolade could be passed on to the first runner up Laura Hughes. She won the public vote and title of Woman of the Year with 2,451 votes – the largest number of votes for one finalist in the event’s 16-year history.
A spokeswoman for the family said: “Mia would not want the other finalists to be sad. She would want them to celebrate how wonderful and inspirational they all are. She would also want to make sure the platform that being Merseyside Woman of the Year provides would be used to do good things in our region, which is why we are delighted to pass on that mantle to Laura Hughes.
“Mia was so excited to be a finalist in the MWOTY awards and she campaigned hard generate public votes. She wanted to win so she could raise more awareness about the issues close to her heart and to extend her charity work. It is obviously a very sad time for us, but we are so happy that she succeeded in her efforts and we wish Laura the very best of luck in role as co-Merseyside Woman of the Year.”
Mia was left with locked-in syndrome after a stroke at the age of 21, the day before she was due to go on a travel agent fam trip to the US.
She was left paralysed and in need of round-the-clock care. At first, blinking was her only way of communicating.
Since her diagnosis the travel industry charity Abta LifeLine was involved in helping to support Mia through fundraising for a specially-adapted car.
Mia continued to undertake charity work, including sleeping on the streets of Liverpool to raise money and awareness of homelessness. She also travelled to Africa to support communities, orphanages and schools.
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