FOURTEEN year old Lauren Gander has worked tirelessly to raise thousands of pounds for charity despite struggling with illness herself.
She was born with spina bifida and was told by doctors she may never walk again but last year she carried the Olympic Torch through the streets of Rye on its journey around Britain.
Lauren, who was born in Bexhill, is a student at Rye Studio School. Recently she organised a special event which saw her and fellow Rye students dressing up in yellow to raise funds for the Shine charity, which helps those with spina bifida.
All told she has raised more than £500,000 for charity.
She went to Downing Street, to meet then Prime Minister Gordon Brown after being shortlisted for the Childrens Champion Award 2009 and has been awarded a Blue Peter Gold Badge for her fund raising achievements.
A former Bexhill High student, Lauren was appointed as Young Ambassador for the Tree of Hope childrens charity.
She also won the Gladys Wright Child of the Year Award, which was set up in memory of Scunthorpe’s oldest resident who lived to 107.
Lauren said: “I feel very honoured that people still think that what I do and who I am is very special as I genuinely don’t think that I do any thing special other than show kindness and compassion for those people less fortunate than myself .
“When I was seven years old a chance meeting with someone had a huge impact on my life and I realised just how lucky I have been to have been able to walk with my condition and I have never looked back since.
“I just feel great empathy towards people who struggle as it is so unfair.
“One day I think I might like to train as a occupational therapist in the field of art therapy so I can continue helping others.
“In the future I would like very much to travel to chile or Peru or Africa I see myself as a volunteer . I think I could be quite good at that.
Lauren’s mum Linda said: “For me personally I find Lauren amazing. To think that medical experts considered the fact that she may not even walk is unbelievable today. I find it astounding that all the way as far as Scunthorpe near Hull Lauren’s efforts are being noticed.
“She is not without her problems or pain. But never considers herself always others. In November Lauren will attend The Childrens Champion awards at The Hilton Hotel Croydon as a nominee after being offered a place at The Brit School in Croydon, a place she has had to forfeit for personal reasons again putting the needs of others before hers.”
Lauren is currently supporting MND the motor neurone disease charity, but is also looking to support a local charity in Rye.
Any local charities interested in Lauren’s support, should contact her through the Rye Studio School.