We launched our first ever Patients' Choice awards in 2016 to mark our 40th anniversary. You voted in your hundreds for the health professionals who have made the difference to you with your AS.
Most of the awards were presented at our Parliamentary reception in Westminster in November 2016. But one of the most important awards remained, and on Tuesday 1 March Debbie Cook attended the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions to present the NASS Patients' Choice You Changed My Life award.
The award went to:
Dr John Hunter, Consultant Rheumatologist at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Dr Hunter was instrumental in setting up the Glasgow Gartnavel NASS branch some 25 years ago.
Many members of the branch were at the Scottish Parliament to see him receive and congratulate him on his award.
Debbie talked about some of the wonderful things that Dr Hunter's patients said about him.
A really caring man who listens.
Dr Hunter goes that bit extra to help us live with AS. Any problems he will get you all the help and support that you need he is only a phone call away.
On many occasions when anyone has been in hospital, he makes a point of phoning them personally on a regular basis to check on their progress. His care for his patients is a testament to his love for what he does and his support is never-ending.
This nomination from one of Dr Hunter's patients sums up just how much he deserved this award.
I first met Dr Hunter in April 2001 at the Rheumatology clinic. It was my first appointment in rheumatology and after almost 20 years of symptoms he diagnosed me with AS.
At the time, i was unable to walk unaided, was in terrible pain and at an all time low in my life. His attitude at that first appointment was one of empathy, hope, positivity and a 'lets face this together attitude'.
Within 6 months I was walking unaided, sleeping at night and enjoying life again for the first time in nearly 15 years! He was always available if I needed to talk, within a year I was attending the NASS branch. Another 2 years I was swimming and at the gym!
My whole outlook of how I live and manage my AS, for the most part with a positive attitude, comes from the care I receive from Dr Hunter. He has taught me how to fight my disease, with him on the sideline when I need him. He has made me the person I am today, strong, positive and extremely grateful for what I am able to do!
My life turned around that rainy day in April 2001 and I’ve never looked back. It may sound dramatic but Dr John Hunter saved me from a life that I was unable to live to a life that I love living.
Huge congratulations Dr Hunter, you are a shining example of a great rheumatologist going that extra mile and changing lives.