Double Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington, has accepted an invitation to become the latest Ambassador of the Encephalitis Society, a national charity and the only resource of its kind in the world supporting people affected by the illness.

Rebecca’s sister Laura was seriously ill in 2005 with Encephalitis, a life threatening illness which leaves many of those who survive with injury to the brain. Laura made a good recovery, however the experience and its effect upon the family has stayed with Rebecca. Following Rebecca’s success at the Beijing Olympics and her subsequent rise in popularity, Rebecca was determined to make charitable work part of her agenda – an obvious choice was of course a cause close to her heart.

Rebecca says: “Having seen at first hand how the illness affected my sister Laura and how little we knew about it at the time, my hope is to work with the team in order to raise awareness of the illness to help sufferers and their families. I’m pleased that my success in the swimming pool will enable me to increase the understanding of the disease and make sure that other families don’t have to go through the experience we had.”

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* Rebecca's work as an ambassador for the Encephalitis Society was recognised in the Third Sector Awards 2019