Dunstable teenager named young person of the year

Kirsty Spicer (centre) is presented with her ELFT award by Sarah Wilson, director of specialist services, and Dermot Ryall, associate director of specialist services
Kirsty Spicer (centre) is presented with her ELFT award by Sarah Wilson, director of specialist services, and Dermot Ryall, associate director of specialist services

A teenager determined to use her experience of anorexia to help others has been named the first East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) Young Person of the Year.

Kirsty Spicer, of Dunstable, was chosen by judges for the new award as part of the Trust’s annual People Participation Awards, more than 200 people attended the awards ceremony in London on Wednesday, June 28.

The 18-year-old writes a regular mental health blog and has shared her anorexia battle with teachers and children across the country by having her story made into an animated film by BBC Teach.

She said: “Watching the completed animation was pretty emotional.

“My mum cried and told me how proud she is of me.”

The video is one of five produced which also cover bullying, panic attacks, OCD and depression.

The Queensbury Academy student explains how shyness made her worry that people were talking about her and judging her, which led her to avoid eating in public. She also talks about how classmates were afraid to talk about her weight.

The aim of the video, produced for students aged eight to 13, is to help teachers discuss eating disorders, social anxiety and what to do if students notice their classmates feeling unhappy or unwell.

The video is available to view on the BBC Tech website and YouTube.

Kirsty’s People Participation Award citation: “This young person has done a fantastic amount of work in their community and has raised awareness of their experiences at a national level.

“They have been involved in the ‘Break The Stigma’ campaign, spoke in front of over 800 people at their school and have most recently been features on BBC Teach which is used in schools nationwide.

“She has been described as inspiring and her willingness to help others is incredible.”

Kirsty has also been nominated in Bedfordshire’s Young People of the Year awards.