Esme Tombleson Person with MS of the Year Past Recipients

Christine O’Sullivan (2016 Recipient)

Christine O’Sullivan was diagnosed with Secondary Progressive MS in 2005 and always had a positive view about her disgnosis choosing to focus on helping others. Christine has lobbied and worked in the community, for PwMS, and disabilities, for many years. Leading by example she is an inspiring role model in the community. Christine sat on the MS Wellington Committee in 2011, and on the Wellington City Council Accessibility Advisory group since February 2014.

In the early days, Christine decided to accept that she couldn’t control MS, but could take charge of the ongoing changes and focus on what she could do.
Resulting from her proactive work, Christine was invited to speak at the GPCME Conferences in Rotorua and Christchurch in 2015. Christine presented on ‘Taking Charge of Change – my adventures with MS’ and was part of a panel speaking on ‘Living with Disability’. The other panel members all had congenital disabilities which gave Christine a different perspective to present as being comparatively ‘new’ to being disabled.

Christine’s most recent initiative has been developing “Sing for MS”, held on World MS Day in May in Wellington for three years running. This wonderful event brings people together and provides a fun, supportive and encouraging environment. The events have been thoroughly enjoyed by all. There is a lot of work work that goes into organising the event; from securing the singers/facilitators through to liaising with the Council to promote the event and secure parking permits.

The MS Welllington Committee and Community Support Staff wholeheartedly supported Christine’s nomination for the Esme Tombleson Award and thank her for all her contributions to the MS Community.



Sarah O’Neil (2015 Recipient)

Diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS, Sarah is a mother, wife and author who has dedicated her life to showing people that there is life beyond MS. The panel members were extremely impressed by Sarah’s sense of community action and her strong focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle to the youth of today.

Since her diagnosis, Sarah and her family have moved from Auckland City to the country, to live a happier, healthier lifestyle. Due to fatigue and other problematic MS symptoms, returning to the workplace did not seem a viable option. Prompted by her lifestyle change, Sarah progressed into writing about her gardening and has now written two books: one documenting the journey from city slicker to country bumpkin, and the other to encourage families to get out into the garden and grow fresh food together. Sarah also writes for the New Zealand Herald in their Bite and Plus supplement, has a column on the Go Gardening website, and contributes to their paper magazine. In articles in the Natural Parent magazine and on, Sarah encourages families to grow their own food.

Sarah doesn’t just sit behind her words, however; she has her own YouTube channel, is a Yates Brand Ambassador, speaks to groups about the benefits of growing food, has been on TV and helps out at her local school garden, mentoring and teaching others who want to garden.


To nominate someone you know who is deserving of recognition like Sarah email MSNZ for an application form.