Inspirational Jessica in final of 'Child of Courage' Award

Shaun Oneill

Reporter:

Shaun Oneill

Email:

sport@ballymenaguardian.co.uk

JESSICA Philpott has been nominated for ‘A Child of Courage’ Award!

The 12-year-old Ballymena girl, who was born with Apert Syndrome, was informed by the BBC that she has made it through to the finals.

Mum Julie, speaking to the Guardian, said a television crew will be calling at their home to film and interview Jessica!

“Just as we thought the week could not get any better I received a phone call from the BBC, informing me that Jessica had been nominated for a Child of Courage award and that she’s made it through to the finals,” enthused Julie.

“I was so taken aback .... I was pretty speechless so I didn’t really ask much more at this stage, but further information will follow this week.”

Meanwhile, the good news for Jessica and co. included the Slemish College pupil smashing her fund raising target for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

After undergoing a 10 hour operation back in April at the London Hospital Jessica decided to organise a fund raising event as a way of saying a big thank you to GOSH for all it has done for her.

And the amazing £10,000 target has been reached.

Last Monday, when Jessica went to GOSH to have her face frame removed, the proud Philpott family presented the £10,000 cheque to the medical team.

The team was amazed tha Jessica’s fund raiser had raised this staggering amount in 10 weeks.

“They team said it meant so much to them that Jessica had chosen Face Value as the recipient of such an amazing amount,” outlined Julie.

And they are pleased that her Jessica’s Journey Page has gone such a long way in raising the profile and awareness of Craniofacial conditions.

Mum Julie admits it was very brave step for her 12-year-old to “put herself ‘out there’ to raise awareness of her rare condition, and to give others a glimpse of what life is like living with Apert Syndrome.”

Jessica’s Apert Syndrome affects the development of her head and limbs,

It will he 12 months before Jessica will see the final result of what was a 10 hour life changing operation.

“We are delighted with the results so far,” continued Julie. “But there is still a lot of swelling and the soft tissue and the new bone structures will take up to a year to settle into place.”

And she said they are extremely thankful to the GOSH team for everything they have done for Jessica and the family over the last few months!

“To them it may be their job but to us they’ve changed our lives and for that we will be eternally grateful,” said Julie.

They thank everyone, individuals and Church groups from all denominations who have prayed for and continue to pray for Jessica and the family.

“Jessica is living proof that prayer changes things. The surgeons can do their bit but ultimately God was in complete control of this situation,” said Julie.

Meanwhile, Jessica has packed in quite a few things into her rather busy schedule in the past week.

On Friday it was back to Oldstone Farm to help bale the hay!

Graeme Nicholl made Jessica’s day by letting her drive his ‘pride & joy’ - the Case - to do the bailing.

Then on Saturday morning they were off again for a tour of Grassmen Headquarters in Ballymena, arranged by David Fullerton.

Gareth Gault, aka Donkey, and his team hosted so well and it was just amazing to get an insight into all of the things the Grassmen do.

“Nothing was too much trouble and they spent the morning showing Jessica their ‘fleet’, Donkey and Jessica took off up the lane in the JCB tractor, Jessica at the wheel (she handled it well - no fear !!! ),” said Julie.

“The work that the Grassmen do for charity and for individuals often goes unnoticed. We were astounded at just how much they do for others, a wonderful team of people whose ethos is very clearly about encouraging and supporting others at every opportunity.”

And Julie and Jessica finished off the week with a treat at Gattos!

“We thank the people of Ballymena and beyond who have been supporting and will continue to support us in so many ways. We will never forget the kindness and love that’s been shown to us over the last few months. We appreciate every gesture, big and small. You have all helped make this journey a positive one,” concluded Julie.

* Winner of the limited edition Great Ormond Street Hospital Teddy Bear was Cara Ross!

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