Selfless Colchester carer Katie, 15, runner-up in prestigious awards
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A teenage carer who helps her single mum look after her two brothers who both have complex health needs has been named runner-up in Essex Young People of the Year.
Katie Kilpatrick, of Havering Close, Colchester, was been given a prestigious YOPEY, known as Oscars for young people who give to others.
Katie, 15, was shortlisted out of hundreds of entries for her work helping look after Christopher, six, and Alexander, two.
Christopher suffers from allergies to a number of foods and medicines, and currently can only eat potatoes, rice, ham and banana. His allergies are severe enough to cause anaphylactic shock, where his lips and face swell up sometimes causing breathing problems – and forcing a trip to hospital.
Alexander has a congenital airway defect, cannot have rice or tomatoes in addition to other foods, and also suffers from eczema, asthma, and allergic conditions affecting his throat and stomach.
Between them the two brothers have ten consultants, 44 daily doses of medicine and make more than 100 annual hospital trips.
Mum Michelle Merrett has a lot to contend with, while herself battling carpal tunnel syndrome, and with eldest sibling James, 19, away at university, a lot falls on Katie’s shoulders.
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Katie, a Gilberd School pupil, helps to give medicines, and also plays with the boys to give mum Michelle some respite – vital as Alexander does not sleep well.
As well as the more caring side Katie helps around the house such as with cooking and bathing.
Katie said: “To me it’s just natural to help others as much as possible, especially since my (elder) brother has always helped out with me and I guess my mum always helped out with her siblings.
“So I guess it’s just natural to me. It’s family.”
If that were not all, Katie also volunteers for the charity Allergy Adventures, to which she is donating half of her £100 YOPEY prize money, and she trains and teaches Scottish Highland dancing.
“It feels amazing to know that everything that I’ve learnt is being passed onto someone else,” said Katie.
“You can see it in the faces of the children, as when they get it right, there’s that sense of achievement which is really nice.”
In their citation the YOPEY judging panel said: “When most youngsters are enjoying life with their friends, Katie is truly making a difference to her family, especially her mum.
“It must be tough for her but shows how much she loves her family.”
Michelle, 40, said: “I would struggle to manage without her.
“She is a godsend in regards to the amount of effort, devotion, and care that she has for her brothers.
“She is selfless, caring, loving and always puts others before herself. She does not ask for anything back in return.
“Katie does all of this while still doing well at school.
“I thought she deserves some recognition, and we need to celebrate the good side of a teenager for a change.
“I am extremely proud of her.”