Lower sixth student Ella Marsden was the proud recipient of a British Citizen Award on Thursday 24 January 2019.
Ella, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of nine, received the award for her commitment to raising awareness of the condition. Ella is an ambassador for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Ltd). This global charity is committed to supporting those with type 1 diabetes and eventually eradicating it. As their website states, type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with lifestyle choices. It is a chronic, lifelong, life-threatening condition. ‘Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. For reasons we don’t yet fully understand, your immune system – which is meant to protect you from viruses and bacteria – attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas called beta cells. When [these cells] fail to produce insulin, glucose levels in your blood start to rise and your body can’t function properly. Over time this high level of glucose in the blood may damage nerves and blood vessels and the organs they supply.’ You can read more about type 1 diabetes and the aims of JDRF by clicking here.
Over the past five years, Ella – very much supported by her family – has raised awareness of the condition by hosting assemblies at school, organising visiting speakers, and even holding a local patient information clinic at home. She’s worked closely with her local MP and has been invited to speak in Parliament twice. First she asked the government to invest in research, and secondly she spoke about the safety of children with health conditions in schools.
In addition, Ella has raised a staggering £50,000 for JDRF through a variety of activities. These have included sporting events, bake sales, representing JDRF at local charity days, and hosting charity events such as the hugely popular ‘Promise Ball’. The name of the Promise Ball came from a promise that Ella’s mother made to her soon after she was diagnosed: to raise funds to support research into finding the best technologies to treat the condition, to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes, and to support her in finding a cure.
In 2016, as a result of all her hard work, Ella won ‘Yorkshire Teenage Fundraiser’ at the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards. JDRF then nominated her for a British Citizen Award (BCA). These are presented to those who make a positive impact on society through outstanding charity or voluntary work.
Ella received her British Citizen Award at the Palace of Westminster. Sebastian Munden, Unilever’s General Manager in the UK and Ireland, presented her with a certificate and medal of honour. Before travelling down to London, Ella said: ‘It was amazing just to have been nominated for this award. I’m part of a large community of people living with type 1 diabetes and I see this award as recognition for everyone’s hard work. Receiving it will be incredible and I will accept it on behalf of the many people who do such amazing work, supporting the type 1 diabetes community and JDRF.’
Ella’s mother, Mrs Debbie Marsden, added: ‘I’m extremely proud of Ella. When she goes out and raises awareness, people connect with her because she lives with [the condition] – she can show them the technology she is using, which really impresses people. It also brings home how real this is, that without the tech she could lose her life, but also how everyone’s hard work and commitment to JDRF is helping people with type 1 manage the condition more easily.’
We are extremely proud of Ella too, and congratulate her on receiving this very well-deserved award. You can find out more about Ella, her condition, and her charity work by clicking here.