In loving memory of Mia Austin, who suddenly and unexpectedly passed away on the 26th June 2019 aged 30, the day before she was due to win the award for the Merseyside Woman of the year. Won by a landslide of 2,451 votes, which is the largest number of votes for one finalist in the event’s 16-year history, a truly remarkable feat.
Even at a glance you would look at Mia and see the tenacious woman that she was, the more you hear about her the more respect you’ll have for her journey and her as a person. At the young age of 21 Mia had a stroke just before a US fam trip, leaving her paralysed and in need of constant care. Mia’s life was altered massively by the fact she has ‘locked in syndrome’ a debilitating medical condition that damages part of the brainstem paralysing the body and most of the facial muscles, leaving her trapped in her own body. For most this would feel like the end, but for Mia and her tireless optimism, it was only the beginning.
Dedicating her life to living, Mia went from only being able to blink, to no longer needing a headrest, achieving small movements and then to shark diving, zip wiring, skiing and bungee jumping. To say Mia had a strong drive is an understatement, her refusal to give up took her to great places.
Her passion and enthusiasm didn’t stop there, alongside improving herself she spent a great deal of her time helping others. She would campaign for airlines to provide access for wheelchair users, allowing wheelchair users to sit in their own chairs on-board. Her campaign attracted over 76,000 signatures and is most likely still growing today. Mia slept on the streets of Liverpool to raise money and awareness of homelessness in the UK, she would also help with the delivery of donations. She had been fundraising to go to Calais and visit the refugee camps this month, it had also been her plan to go to orphanages in the Gambia in November 2020.
Mia had worked for the Co-operative Travel in Heswell in Merseyside, and because of this she was eligible for support from ABTA LifeLine. We are honoured to be a part of Mia’s journey and support her to achieve the amazing things she has done as an individual. In the words of ABTA LifeLine Director Trudie Clements:
“We are so sad to hear of Mia’s passing. She was a determined young lady, and despite her condition threw herself into raising funds for charities; constantly challenging herself.
“LifeLine was delighted to support Mia with a specially adapted car to her see her friends and places she loved to visit.
“On a personal note, it was a pleasure to know such an incredible person. She was an inspiration to us all. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time.”
Mia had gone from being trapped in her own body to freeing herself and so many others, simply by sharing her story. In spite of all the odds put against her Mia made an incredible mark on this world leaving behind some very proud and grateful friends. Throughout her journey Mia wrote a book, using just her eyes, about the ups and downs in her life the book is called ‘In the Blink of an Eye’. With the help of Sue Kelso Ryan Mia was able to tell her story and install strength into others whom she hadn’t even met. Mia is a testament to what can be done with a strong heart and supporting family, she will be missed but her Legacy will still live on.