“It’s taken away my whole life”.
The words of Ruth Catchpole, 20, seem bleak as she talks about the illness that she has to learn to live with.
But there is a more positive side to the story.
Ruth’s courage in facing up to the serious challenges before her won her the Inspirational Care Leaver Award in the Exceptional People in Care Awards to celebrate the achievements of West Sussex’s young people.
Ruth was chosen for her constant bravery and determination in the face of many knockbacks and difficulties related to both her health and other factors.
Ruth said: “I feel very happy and honoured. It’s a token of my effort and all of our effort.
“I suffer with a rare genetic connective tissue disorder and it’s taken away my whole life but I’ve been working with the care leaver’s team and we’re getting me back on track and life is working out.”
Hundreds of youngsters and their loved ones from across West Sussex attended the ceremony at Butlins, Bognor to celebrate the achievement of children and young people looked after such as those in foster care and care homes. A total of 209 young people nominated from different services and organisations throughout West Sussex. Nominations were also made by schools, carers and the Children in Care Council.
Young people from the Children in Care Council were involved in the organisation of the awards, supported by West Sussex County Council’s Young People’s Service.
The other winners apart from Ruth were: achieving award Oliver Bailey Crocker, 12,; supporting award Melissa Tallon, 23; overcoming award Aland Dana, 14 and the Chris Lindfield Award Chloe Carr, 14.
Stephen Hillier, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children – Start of Life, said at the awards: “This year’s awards really showcased the amazing young people that we have in West Sussex and illustrated that with hard work, tenacity and a supportive environment they can truly achieve anything they set their minds too.
“The event also stands testament to the families who foster and adopt children, to those who work in our care homes and to our social workers. Because of them, our young people in care have had the opportunity to develop and grow into the fantastic young people I have seen here today.”