Published: 10:00, 25 June 2014 |
Updated: 14:17, 25 June 2014
ooMost young women would jump at the chance of a shopping spree at Bluewater but for Jessica Taylor her trip will be arduous and daunting.
That's because the 23-year-old has been bedridden for eight years after being struck down with the chronic fatigue illness ME. Now she is bracing herself to take part in a sponsored bed push around the shopping centre where she used to enjoy visits before becoming ill.
When she's not been in hospital, Jessica has been confined to one room of the family home in Cliffe Woods and she described the Bluewater challenge as her “marathon”.
She said: “While it might be a trip to a shopping centre for everyone else for me to be faced with the noise and light, it will be like climbing Kilimanjaro."
Jessica, who will be pushed around the shopping centre on ambulance stretcher by her paramedic father Colin,admits to feeling nervous. But she is spurred on raising money for Share a Star, which helps seriously ill young people in hospital, which has just become a registered charity.
Jessica said: “I used to go to Bluewater as a child and as a teenager it was the place to go. I wanted to go back there because I have good memories of it. Who knows I might go on a shopping spree, but I haven’t told my dad that ”
Jessica started her charity after spending long spells in hospital with the debilitating condition and seeing suffering youngsters alongside her.
She said : “We came up with the name because the star symbolises the sparkle of hope. I just thought there was not enough sparkle, so I wanted to make it happen.”
Jessica was a healthy, fit and academically promising student at Rochester Grammar School when she became ill at the age of 14. She was captain of the netball team and was predicted the straight A grades she needed to go to university to study English.
By the time she was 15 she was too ill to go to school and has since been cared for by her dad and mum Kate at their home in Woodside Green.
She said: “Hospitals are really not very fun places to be and being ill is definitely not much fun.”
The charity provides a special individual star to chronically ill people including those who are fighting for their lives under the age of 21.
She said: “We use the term ‘star’ for people we look up to - film stars, sports stars, pop stars and the list continues. Now we can have many new superstars who are living with life-threatening illnesses too.
“There are 250,000 people in the UK suffering from severe ME, yet there is still a stigma about the illness. And this needs to be sorted out.”
To support Jessica, visit http://wwwshareastar.org.uk
Don't miss out, subscribe today. Keep up to date with our newsletters.
A guide for your future. For year 11 students in Kent and Medway. Click here for the e-edition.
Education, Training & Childcare is a special supplement published by KM Media Group four times a year. Click here for latest e-edition.
Get the latest food and drink news, recipes from some of the nation's top chefs plus updates from Kent's vineyards and breweries.
Search in your local area to find your perfect partner in Kent, with FreshStart Dating! PLUS, register for free!.
Find out what's going on in the garden, with Kent expert Lucy Hewett's weekly update.
Buy pictures that you've seen in a KM newspaper, or send in a picture and we will place it on our photo sales website so that you can purchase a super, unique gift.