Child of Courage awards for inspirational Redbridge youngsters

Rotary International

Areeb Khan (front) with family at the awards in Birmingham - Credit: Peter Croan, Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland

Two inspirational youngsters from Redbridge have received national awards recognising their bravery.

Areeb Khan, 17, and Esha Nadeswaran, five, won Child of Courage gongs at Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland's Young Citizen Awards after being nominated by Redbridge Rotary.

Their latest recognition comes after Areeb was a winner and Esha runner-up at the Ilford Recorder/Redbridge Rotary Young Citizen Awards in March.

Areeb, from Chadwell Heath, told the story of her battle with Covid-19 in a bid to encourage other young people to get vaccinated.

Rotary International

Ellie Crisell speaks to Areeb - Credit: Peter Croan, Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland

She was so seriously ill with the virus that she was only given a 50 per cent chance of survival and spent months in hospital.

Areeb also had to re-learn skills such as walking and eating independently.

She travelled up to Birmingham to collect her award at a ceremony hosted by TV presenter Ellie Crisell.

"I believe that this award has allowed my story to reach many other people," Areeb said.

“I think it's very important for people to listen to my story so people know what Covid can do to you.”

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Esha, from Gants Hill, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in May 2021.

Her family was told she would need an urgent stem cell transplant and began a campaign aimed at raising awareness in the south Asian community of the need for stem cell donors.

Esha Nadeswaran

Esha Nadeswaran helped to inspire a campaign to find more stem cell donors - Credit: Nadeswaran family

It inspired around 20,000 people to join the bone marrow donor list and between 60 and 70 per cent of the new registrations were from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Esha, who has since received the transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), was unable to attend the awards ceremony because she is isolating after treatment.

But a video of her saying thank you was played during proceedings.

She said: "Thank you everybody so much for this award. It's not just me who's special, it's all my GOSH friends."

Her dad Rish added: "She's been through so many chemotherapy cycles, a bone marrow transplant, many surgeries, tests but through it all she has been brave and courageous.

"Esha's fight continues to this day - it'll be a long-term battle but through the positive energy she gives us and her happiness, we will be able to continue this fight."

To nominate someone aged 25 and under for the Recorder/Redbridge Rotary Young Citizen Awards, contact michael.cox@archant.co.uk or visit www.redbridgerotaryclub.org/contact giving information about the nomination and contact details.