AN inspirational teenager, who raised £500,000 for charity, has been chosen as November’s Outstanding Young Person of the Month.
Lauren Gander, 14, from Bexhill, was nominated by her proud mum Linda.
She was born with spina bifida and was not expected to walk or lead a normal life. But she has defied the medics and against all odds can walk and leads a relatively normal life.
Lauren, who attends Rye Studio School, is a keen fundraiser and ambassador for good causes. She has already received many awards, including the Princess Diana Award, Inspirational Mother and Daughter Award, Britain’s Kindest Kid finalist and was a torchbearer at the London Olympics. She even has a much coveted gold Blue Peter badge.
Some of the plucky youngster’s charity events include skydiving, a 200-foot zip wire launched from Newport Transporter Bridge, sleeping rough in a cardboard box to highlight homelessness and, in October, she inspired everyone at her school to go yellow for the day to promote awareness of Shine, the charity for spina bifida.
The Outstanding Young Person of the Month award is sponsored by Spectrum Financial Services and the Observer series. It recognises youngsters aged 18 and under who have excelled in sport, exceeded expectations in their academic studies, or have performed an important role on a voluntary basis in their own home or the wider community.
As part of her award, Lauren will receive a complimentary meal for two and £100 for the charity of her choice, which is the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA).
The teenager became involved with the charity through a school project in which she and a team of fellow year 10 students helped raised £150 for MNDA. The team had a cake and refreshment stall at Rye Christmas Festival and were joined by Moira Raines, chairman of the East Sussex branch of MNDA.
Moira said: “Lauren is a fantastic girl and we’re extremely grateful that she’s helping to fundraise for us. She started life as a disadvantaged person but you wouldn’t know as she’s fought her way through. She’s so humble and amazing and really deserves the award.”
Geoff Fillery, director of operations at Spectrum, said: “I’ve known Lauren all her life and she’s an amazing girl. She’s worked so hard for various charities and sets an incredible example to her peers. I’m delighted to present her with the Outstanding Young Person of the Month Award.”
If you would like to nominate someone for the award, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of who you are nominating and the reasons why.