A young Sleaford girl met Princes William and Harry as well as pop star Rita Ora in a reception at Kensington Palace after being named as a finalist in the BBC Radio 1 Teen Heroes awards.
Keira Beeson, 12, lives with a condition called ulcerative colitis. She was nominated having spent the last five years undergoing treatment and operations and has now had her bowel removed.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease can be an embarrassing condition for some, but Keira has always been open and honest about her diagnoses, advising and raising awareness among others with the same condition on the acceptance of living with a stoma. Keira has also raised funds for Crohn’s and Colitis UK and The Breakaway Foundation’s Buttony Bear Project.
Keira said: “Crohns and Colitis UK have helped me and my family to understand all about my disease and inform us about treatments available to help manage my symptoms. They make you realise you are not alone. The Breakaway Foundation Buttony Bear Project provided me with a special bear who has a stoma like me. Buttony Bear helps me to explain to others about what it’s like living with an ileostomy.
“Fundraising for these charities is the least I can do to say thankyou for all of their support.”
At the beginning of October Keira’s mum Shelley was contacted by the BBC to say although she had not won, Keira was one of the 12 finalists in the Radio 1 Teen Hero awards and on October 18, was invited with all the other 11 to meet the princes. The awards honor young adults who have shown dedication to helping others through selfless achievements, and William and Harry presented the finalists with special Teen Hero badges.
They were also joined by radio DJs Nick Grimshaw, Clara Amfo and Greg James.
Keira has taken part in sponsored walks, cake sales, wear something purple days and teddy bear sales.
Keira said: “Many people with IBD feel alone, I want people to realise that they are not alone, that having IBD is nothing to be embarrassed about and that it is ok to talk about it. IBD is an invisible illness, you can’t tell that people have this illness just by looking at them. People need to understand that these invisible illnesses exist, the more we talk about it the more people will understand and offer their support.”
During her time at the palace Keira chatted with the royals about what it is like to live with IBD and about her fundraising.
“Prince Harry told me Keira is a real inspiration and that he is proud to have met her,” said Shelley.
Keira said: “I was worried that it would be hard to talk to them, but they were so lovely and easy to talk to. They seemed really interested in my story. This has definitely made me want to continue fundraising and raising awareness of IBD.”
The children were taken to the Radio 1 studios for a tour and also attended the Radio 1 Teen Awards at Wembley on October 22 to see the likes of The Vamps, Rita Ora, Camila Cabello and Dua Lipa.