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Mum awarded OBE for services for disabled people

Paula and Oliver McGowan
Paula and Oliver McGowan Image credit:

A mother of a teenage boy who lost his life after being prescribed drugs against his parents’ consent has been awarded an OBE.

Oliver McGowan, who had epilepsy and learning disabilities, died at Bristol’s Southmead Hospital in November 2016 aged 18.

Despite his family telling doctors he was intolerant to antipsychotic drugs medics he was given a dose of Olanzapine which triggered swelling of the brain leading to his death.

This week his mum Paula was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021 for her services for people with autism and learning disabilities.

She told Bristol Live: "I'm just Oliver's voice.

"It's an honour and a privilege to accept this on his behalf, and for people who have learning disabilities and autism.

"It's them who have won this award - I wouldn't be doing this work if not for the death of Oliver."

Paula, who now lives in Australia, is currently working with NHS England to launch the Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training in Learning Disability and Autism which will support medics, healthcare professionals and social care staff develop their awareness looking after people with autism and learning disabilities.

When Paula received a stamped letter from the Cabinet Office about her OBE she was sworn to secrecy until the full list of recipients went public on Friday June 11, even her family weren’t told until last week’s announcement!

More than 1,120 people have been recognised for their outstanding contributions to society in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.