Inspirational St Albans schoolgirl receives top House of Commons accolade

PUBLISHED: 18:00 03 December 2016

Back row - parents Andy and Lyn Farrugia  with Stephen McPartland and Jo and Gabriella in the foreground

Back row - parents Andy and Lyn Farrugia with Stephen McPartland and Jo and Gabriella in the foreground

Archant

Brave schoolgirl Gabriella Farrugia has proved so inspirational that she has won a top House of Commons award.

GabriellaGabriella

Gabriella, 12, who lives in Marshalswick and is a pupil of Sandringham School, was nominated by the city’s MP Anne Main for the Inspire the House - Most Inspirational Young Person award at the Kids Count Inspiration Awards.

MPs nominate a young person who has inspired others ‘by their personal dedication, personality, enthusiasm, resilience, flair and commitment to issues affecting the lives of young people’ - and Gabriella won it.

It is the latest in a series of awards that Gabriella has received for her efforts to publicise her rare condition, Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM), and raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) where she receives treatment.

JDM is a rare chronic auto-immune disease which causes the immune system to attack the body and leads to severe muscle weakness.

Gabriella and Anne with  #UKPW16  sign  for UK Parliament Week 2016.Gabriella and Anne with #UKPW16 sign for UK Parliament Week 2016.

Gabriella spent six months at GOSH after her diagnosis a couple of years ago and still has regular treatment there. Raising money for the hospital was her way of thanking them for the help she has received.

Among the awards she has already received is this year’s [St Albans] Mayor’s Young Person of Distinction Award for her bravery in speaking out about her condition.

In the citation which accompanied her nomination of Gabriella for the award, Mrs Main described the schoolgirl as an ‘outstanding individual who, despite coming against many obstacles in her short life, has worked tirelessly to inspire those around her.

“She has shown bravery beyond her years throughout her treatment and, although she has had to learn to feed herself and walk again, has been determined to educate others about her illness and reach out to those who may feel they are suffering alone.”

Mrs Main also referred to how Gabriella had featured in a campaign to enable GOSH to continue researching JDM which raised over £2 million to equip a new heart unit and fund ground-breaking work in the field of children’s palliative care.

She added: “Gabriella determination to continue fighting for Great Ormond Street Hospital and support those with JDM is admirable. Given her outstanding courage, I do hope that Gabriella’s amazing achievements will be acknowledged through this award.”

The Kids Count Awards - aimed at helping young people overcome disabilities by promoting self-help - are held every year on the terrace of the House of Commons and hosted by MP Nigel Evans.

Mrs Main said, ‘It was a pleasure and a delight to meet Gabriella, and to show her around Parliament.

“Not only is she intelligent and articulate, but extremely driven and wants to continue to build on the charitable work that she done. Her condition certainly does not hold her back.”

She added: “Gabriella is an inspiration and thoroughly deserved national recognition of her achievements.”


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