Carer Anna Marie McLachlan, originally from Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway has been presented the ‘Outstanding Professional Award’ at the 2021 WellChild Awards by the Duke of Sussex.
Anna-Marie has supported the Park family in Oxfordshire for the past nine years, in particular looking after 12-year-old Meriel who was born with a rare congenital muscle disorder.
Described by Meriel’s mother Camilla as a real-life Mary Poppins, Anna-Marie is so much more than a carer to Meriel. She has shown exceptional kindness and dedication in her determination to help Meriel achieve all her dreams.
The two share a passion for sport and Anna-Marie, a black belt in karate, has found ingenious ways to tweak all sorts of sports to enable Meriel to take part. Together they have successfully accomplished several fundraising challenges, including reaching the summit of Snowdon, and written and illustrated a book about this to raise funds for charity.
The Awards are run by WellChild, the national charity for seriously ill children. The winners were chosen from hundreds of nominations from across the UK to win the categories of Inspirational Child and Young Person, Young Carer, Inspirational Nurse, Inspirational Doctor, Outstanding Health Professional and Volunteer in these Awards which celebrate the resilience of children living with serious illnesses or complex conditions and honour the dedication of those individuals who go the extra mile to help these children and their families.
The huge disruption caused by Coronavirus in 2020 meant the Awards were not held last year but, with the support of sponsors and of the general public they are back and more important than ever in 2021. Many of the vulnerable children, young people and families supported by WellChild have struggled immensely during COVID-19 and the charity hopes that these Awards will help to shine a light on the challenges many have faced, whilst bringing some much-needed hope and positivity to their lives after such a difficult year.
The Duke of Sussex said: “Since becoming patron of WellChild in 2007, this organisation and the people within it have held an extraordinarily special place in my heart. I wasn’t a father at the time, and yet the stories of these children and parents transcended that. I didn’t need to be a dad to feel the impact of this invaluable work. Now as a father of two, I feel all the more connected, inspired and in awe of the resilience of these families, who power through indescribable challenges with the support of WellChild.
“The health of our children, of all of us, could not have been more on the forefront of our minds during the past year. And, throughout this time, the WellChild community has set an example for how to show up and act with compassion for each other. I could not be prouder to be here, to meet this year’s WellChild Award winners, to thank the nurses and doctors for all they do, and to celebrate these amazing families.”
WellChild Chief Executive, Colin Dyer said: “There are more children and young people than ever before in the UK living with long-term, serious health needs. The Coronavirus outbreak has placed these children and families under more pressure than many of us can comprehend. The WellChild Awards 2021, in association with GSK, will be a unique opportunity to recognise and highlight the immense challenges they have faced and to celebrate the remarkable positivity, resilience and spirit they have demonstrated. It will also help us to shine a light on the dedication of those around them, from siblings, professionals and volunteers who have gone above and beyond to help them through such challenging times.”