An 11-year-old Sleaford girl has been presented with one of the first ever British Citizen Youth Awards for raising awareness and funds for inflammatory bowel disease sufferers.
The inaugural British Citizen Youth Awards – honouring young people who have positively impacted society, communities, charities or other good causes – took place last Tuesday at the Palace of Westminster.
Keira Beeson, of Sleaford, was one of 20 youngsters to be honoured, receiving her award from Kimberly Wyatt of the Pussycat Dolls.
Keira said: “It was the best day of my life, especially getting to meet my hero Kimberly Wyatt. It also makes me want to continue helping others in whatever way I can.”
At the age of seven, Keira was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and has spent a lot of time in hospital trying every drug available to her, without success, leaving her with very few periods of remission.
Along with the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease (abdominal pain, blood loss, fatigue and painful joints) Keira has also had to deal with the side effects from the immunosuppressant drug she takes.
In 2015 Keira saw buildings were lighting up purple on World Inflammatory Bowel Disease Day (May 19) to raise awareness of IBD. She loved this idea and wanted to do something herself.
Keira approached her headmaster, Stephen Tapley at William Alvey School, to have a ‘Wear Something Purple Day’. She decided to expand further, writing letters to local schools and businesses asking them to join her and wear something purple, raising just under £2,000 for the IBD charity.
Earlier this year, she was told that her only option was surgery to remove the large bowel and create an ileostomy. To cope with this, she was given Buttony Bear by the Breakaway Foundation’s Button Bear Project. She realised the bear’s importance and educated her school.
Despite her impending surgery Keira repeated her previous year’s activities, raising another £2,000 for Colitis UK.
Despite suffering numerous complications in hospital, including pneumonia and a collapsed lung, Keira was determined to attend a cake sale and raffle she had organised for the charity.
Mum Shelley Beeson said: “Seeing Keira presented with the British Citizen Youth Award, being recognised for her amazing achievements, was one of the proudest moments of my life. It was an extremely emotional day.
“Keira being Keira used the day as a platform to further raise awareness of inflammatory bowel disease and the charities she supports.”