Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Brave Young People in Running for Award

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Brave Young People in Running for Award

Article excerpt

Byline: Sonia Sharma Reporter

THESE inspirational youngsters who have transformed their lives after facing major challenges are in line for a Pride of Britain award.

Tom Rebair and Abbie Westgate, both from Newcastle, have become finalists in The Prince's Trust Young Achiever category.

The Mirror's Pride of Britain Awards ceremony, held in partnership with TSB, is the biggest national event of its kind and is broadcast every year in a primetime slot on ITV.

It recognises ordinary people who do extraordinary things. And Tom and Abbie certainly fit the bill.

Suffering from dyslexia, Tom always felt he was different to the other children at school. Bullies made his life a living hell, one he finally thought he'd escaped when he left school at 16.

But things only got worse when he developed OCD and a severe eating disorder.

"My confidence was non-existent," says Tom, now 22. "I blamed myself for being bullied at school - so I self-harmed and stopped eating.

I ended up in hospital when my body was so weak my heartbeat had dropped to 18 beats per minute. My body was shutting down."

After six months in hospital, Tom found himself in a limbo with no job and no prospects.

Luckily The Prince's Trust showed him a way. He was provided support through a programme called Fairbridge, that helps to build confidence and self-esteem in young people.

"It gave me a reason to get out of bed," he added. "We'd go out for a day's climbing, and when I felt I couldn't do it, they'd make me push myself, just one step at a time.

"I learnt that I could apply these skills to my whole life. I just needed the confidence to take small steps and I could reach my goals."

Bravely stepping out of his comfort zone, Tom started sharing his story with others and spoke out to audiences of more than 200 Prince's Trust supporters.

Tom now volunteers with St John Ambulance and recently secured a job as a catering assistant with Marie Curie. …

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