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Tributes paid to Norwich disability campaigner Jan Sutton

PUBLISHED: 11:10 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:26 31 July 2017

Jan Sutton. Photo: Bill Smith

Jan Sutton. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2012

Tributes have been paid to a popular disability rights campaigner who has died.

Jan Sutton.  Photo: Bill SmithJan Sutton. Photo: Bill Smith

Jan Sutton, 46, from Norwich, had multiple sclerosis and took Norfolk County Council to a judicial review in June 2011 after the care she was receiving from social services was reduced, leaving her stuck in bed.

She called the situation at the time “utterly degrading and dehumanising”.

Ms Sutton took on the council after her care agency gave her 24 hours’ notice that it would no longer give her support to access her bathroom. The only way she would have been able to cope was to go into debt to pay for three more hours of care every day.

She won £9,500 in court and social services agreed to increase funding from 50 to 70 hours a week.

Earlier this year, with the loss of independence looming, she made the decision to go to Switzerland for an assisted death surrounded by her family on June 8.

Ms Sutton was born in Carlisle in 1970 to Win and Bryan Sutton, sister to Alison Sutton. From an early age her motivation was to help others, joining the British Red Cross aged six, remaining a member throughout her childhood.

In 1989 she took a gap year before starting university, working with nine others as an ambulance assistant in Israel, working for Magen Davide Adom, the Jewish equivalent of the Red Cross.

After returning in 1990 she went to Sussex University to study social psychology.

She found a home in Brighton and lived there until 2001 working with people with severe mental health problems and volunteering for those affected by HIV.

During this time in 1995 problems with her vision led to the discovery that she was suffering from a disease that would change her life. At the age of 25 she was diagnosed with MS.

Ms Sutton was devastated, but never defeated. She adapted her life where necessary and kept going as much as she could. By 2001 she moved to Norwich to pursue a postgraduate degree in counselling at UEA.

After graduating in 2004 she worked as a counsellor and briefly took a training position with the Norfolk County Council, retiring in 2004.

Securing her level of care in 2012 she dedicated herself to the broader cause, battling her condition and taking part in debates and campaigns.

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