A teenager from King’s Lynn has been honoured for the way she’s battled back against ill health and inspired others with her positivity.
Emily Weightman, 14, was born with a rare blood disorder which causes a weakness in the immune system and is also partially deaf. But her positive attitude to life has led to her receiving a rare national award from the Girl Guides.
Emily has been in and out of hospital during her life with severe lung infections, had treatment which meant she lost all her hair and has had to have an invasive bone marrow transplant.
But now Emily, who is part of the North Wootton Girl Guides unit, has been honoured with the highly prestigious Guiding Star award.
The award is only given to exceptional members of the Girl Guides who demonstrate great resilience and act as an exceptional role model to others.
Emily’s mum, Anne Weightman, said Emily was very proud to receive the award, which was presented to her during a surprise ceremony last week.
“We didn’t know anything about the award,” said Mrs Weightman. “We thought we were going to see Emily and three of her friends move up to become Rangers, so it was quite a surprise when Sheila, the unit leader, said she had a special presentation to make.
“I was quite tearful, I am amazingly proud of Emily and all she has achieved in her life, particularly after the last 18 months which have been very challenging. Emily is really proud of herself and can’t stop smiling.”
Emily’s rare blood condition meant she didn’t have the immunity to fight bacterial infections. Tests never revealed why this happened and her mum said “she has had doctors puzzled all her life”.
Because she was so susceptible to infection, if Emily’s temperature went above 38 degrees she had to go to hospital – when most people would catch a cold, Emily would develop a dangerous infection.
In 2018 she became really poorly with a fungal lung infection and a biopsy of her bone marrow then showed changes which meant she needed a transplant.
And, just as lockdown began in last March, Emily was in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London awaiting surgery.
Further fungal infections led to more hospital stays last year and this year, meaning Emily had to home school from her hospital bed and she even had to have emergency surgery on Christmas Eve last year when the infection came back in her lungs.
“That’s all been fixed now with the transplant and hopefully we are getting towards the end of it, so now she will just lead a normal life with the hospital trips a thing of the past,” said her mum.
“Through all this, she’s kept on smiling and has never once said ‘why me?’ or ‘this isn’t fair’, she’s totally amazing.
“She’s been really poorly at times and has never let it show. She says she hasn’t really been through anything but she has.”
Emily began displaying her positive attitude at an early age – when she was little, teachers reading stories to children at school discovered Emily was partially deaf but she had taught herself to lip read.
“She’s an amazingly strong-willed young lady. She’s an inspiration to us as a family, her strength has helped us get through it with her,” said her mum.
Mrs Weightman thanked the leaders of North Wootton Girl Guides, adding: “They are a really nice, supportive group. Being part of the Guides has really helped Emily grow up as a well-rounded person.”
Despite all her health issues, Emily has remained an inspirational member of her Guides group.
Sheila Fysh, unit leader, said: “Emily is an inspiration to other members of the group, they are all so proud of her.
“She is a brilliant role model and will do anything to help.
“She is so resilient and nothing ever phases her.
“Despite all she’s been through, she never moans or complains, she is a wonderful girl.
“The Guiding Star award is rarely given out and Emily really deserves it. She is a shining star.”
The North Wootton guides unit has a recruitment day at the Guide hut in Station Road on Saturday, September 25, 11am to 3pm, with activities to try out. The group is open to girls aged 10 to 14. For more details contact Mrs Fysh on 07989 454921.