Published: 06:00, 19 November 2020
A YouTube star with more than two million subscribers has surprised a carer with a National Lottery Award.
Caitlin Walker, from the Isle of Sheppey, has worked tirelessly to help her community and NHS staff during lockdown, while also looking after her father who suffered life-changing injuries in a car accident two years ago.
The 16-year-old, who has autism, OCD and severe anxiety, won a Young Hero 2020 award for her efforts and was told the news by social media star Saffron Barker, 20, via video message.
After suffering a breakdown, Caitlin continued her education through home schooling. This meant when GCSE exams were cancelled due to Covid-19, she was unable to gain any qualifications because many external candidates are not allowed to use predicted grades.
But the teenager hasn’t let her own challenges stop her helping others during the pandemic.
Through volunteering at Youth Resilience UK, she has been providing schoolchildren across Kent with skills to improve their emotional and mental resilience, as well as helping her self-isolating neighbours by doing shopping runs on her bike, making trips to the chemist and providing cakes and masks for nurses.
The teen also set up a Facebook group to support frontline NHS staff, asking for donations, which led to 15 bags of essential items being made for staff at Medway Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
'I didn’t see myself as a hero - I was just doing what I thought everyone should do for those that need it...'
Speaking about her surprise at receiving the award, she said: “I was so shocked when I saw Saffron on the screen in front of me and even more surprised when she said I had won the Young Hero Award.
“I didn’t see myself as a hero - I was just doing what I thought everyone should do for those that need it - but I’m so happy to receive the trophy and be recognised for what I have been doing these last six months.
“I hope I can continue helping as many people as I can as we go into a second lockdown.”
YouTube star Saffron Barker, who has spoken about her own mental health difficulties before, said: “Caitlin is such an inspiration with everything she has done, despite her own battles.”
Almost 5,000 people were nominated for a National Lottery Award, which celebrates individuals who do extraordinary things with the help of lottery funding.
The winners were chosen by a panel of judges.