Vera is Cork Person of the Month
She is one of the most recognisable women in the country thanks to her high-profile campaign for her young daughter to receive treatment for a rare form of epilepsy.
Vera Twomey's determination to secure medical cannabis for her daughter Eva made national headlines and in April saw her being honoured and receiving a standing ovation at the Rehab People of the Year Awards.
Now the Aghabullogue woman has been honoured with one of the most prestigious accolades her native county can afford her after Vera was named as the Cork Person of the Month for May.
Vera rose to national prominence during her three-year battle to secure access to medicinal cannabis for Ava, who has a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet's Syndrome.
The potentially lethal condition can result in sufferers experiencing up to 20 seizures a day and had previously pushed Ava into cardiac arrest and an eight-day coma.
Vera's campaign included two walks from Cork to Dáil Eireann to raise the public's and the government's attention to Ava's struggle in addition to mounting a successful social media drive. Last summer, Vera and her husband Paul even went as far as taking Ava to Holland so she could access treatment there.
A bill that would regulate the use of cannabis for medical purposes was passed to committee stage by the Dáil last December and in February Health Minister Simon Harris said he would establish a compassionate access programme for cannabis-based treatments for certain conditions.
Now, thanks to her mother's campaign, eight-year-old Ava is one of just seven people in the country to have been granted a special licence for the use of medical cannabis to treat the condition.
In addition to securing the right for Ava to receive the treatment she so desperately needed, Vera successfully lobbied the Government to include the cost of her daughter's treatment, approximately €12,000 per annum, under the long-tern illness scheme. Cork Person of the Year awards organiser, Mallow native Manus O'Callaghan, said Vera was a deserving winner of the monthly award.
"The whole country was captivated by Vera's fight for Ava to receive the medicinal cannabis to treatment she needed to treat her condition. Vera was fearless in pursuit of this and she is a lesson to us all in perseverance and tenacity," said Manus.
Accepting the award Vera once again thanked the Irish people for their support during her campaign, a point she also made in her People of the Year acceptance speech.
"I'm honoured to receive this great award and it's a further example of the incredible support I've received from the Irish people, and especially from Cork County and City, all throughout our journey," she said.
Vera Twomey's name will now go forward for possible selection as the Cork Person of the Year for 2018 at a gala Awards event next January.