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Professor Stephen Hawking’s first wife gives ‘truly inspirational’ speech at Suffolk Headway conference in Martlesham

PUBLISHED: 19:07 04 October 2017 | UPDATED: 19:16 04 October 2017

Dr Jane Hawking, carer and first wife of Professor Stephen Hawking speaking at Headway Suffolk's third annual Neuro Conference at BT Adastral Park.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Dr Jane Hawking, carer and first wife of Professor Stephen Hawking speaking at Headway Suffolk's third annual Neuro Conference at BT Adastral Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The first wife and carer of Professor Stephen Hawking was hailed for her “truly inspirational” keynote speech at the annual Headway Suffolk Neuro Conference today.

CEO of Headway Suffolk, Helen Fairweather with Dr Jane Hawking.   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNCEO of Headway Suffolk, Helen Fairweather with Dr Jane Hawking. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The annual conference highlights key issues and topics within the neurological and head injury healthcare sector in Suffolk, with Professor Stephen Hawking giving the keynote speech last year.

Today, as the conference returned to BT Adastral Park in Martlesham Heath, Dr Jane Hawking – carer and first wife of the famed professor who suffers from motor neurone disease – addressed the conference for the keynote address.

Headway Suffolk chairman Allistair Renton said: “It all went very well. It’s about raising awareness because people don’t always get the full story of the difficulties of people who suffer from disabilities – particularly neurological.”

Mr Renton said having high profile guests such as Dr Hawking helped make people realise the difficulties associated with neurological conditions.

Dr Jane Hawking spoke about The Theory of Everything film, which portrayed her marriage with Professor Stephen HawkingDr Jane Hawking spoke about The Theory of Everything film, which portrayed her marriage with Professor Stephen Hawking

“I think it makes people sit up because when you have these people talking there they are not doing it for their own gain.

“She truly was quite inspirational in the messages she was putting across, and making suggestions to what people ought to be thinking about,” he added.

During her speech, Dr Hawking spoke about the pair’s involvement in The Theory of Everything film, and how it was important that the production allowed them to get across the message of accessing the right type of care when Professor Hawking was first diagnosed.

She said that despite the advances in technology, many were still having the same issue they had during the 1960s and 1970s, with many still not able to access the right care.

Professor Stephen Hawking visited the Kesgrave Community Centre to visit the Headway conference in 2016. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNProfessor Stephen Hawking visited the Kesgrave Community Centre to visit the Headway conference in 2016. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Other speakers from Ipswich Hospital, Suffolk County Council and Helen Fairweather from Headway spoke about other issues, with another key message being around helping support the families of those with neurological conditions, not just those with the conditions themselves.

Mr Renton added: “Once someone gets into that it affects the whole family and it creates all sorts of difficulties.

“Not enough [effort] is put into helping the families look after people, so that is a key message – it is all about awareness.”

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