Alice, 19, earns a wild card

PUBLISHED: 13:43 26 April 2007 | UPDATED: 15:05 12 May 2010

A TEENAGER who cares for her mother has been given a wild card entry to the prestigious final of BAA Young People of the Year in Hertfordshire. Alice Burkitt s entry for Yopey was too late for the North Herts contest, but organisers say the 19-year-old is

A TEENAGER who cares for her mother has been given a wild card entry to the prestigious final of BAA Young People of the Year in Hertfordshire.

Alice Burkitt's entry for Yopey was too late for the North Herts contest, but organisers say the 19-year-old is such a positive role model that she has been put straight through to the final on May 11 at County Hall, Hertford.

It means Alice, of Woodforde Close, Ashwell, is now in the running for an award in a competition that has £5,000 to be won by young people who give to others.

If she wins a cash prize she will share it with Headway North Herts and Stevenage, the Baldock-based head injuries charity that has been helping her cope since her mother Ruth suffered a stroke.

Alice has been Ruth's main carer since November 2005.

Ironically, Alice was the one being cared for by Ruth when her mother had the stroke.

She said: "I was still suffering from ME - myalgic encephalomyelitis - which had affected me for six years.

"My mum had been a fantastic support during my struggle to achieve A-levels."

At the time Alice's brothers were both away from home. "It was just the two of us," said Alice.

Ruth was in hospital for three months and Alice visited her every day.

"I helped her by cutting her nails, shaving her legs, moisturising, and bringing her clean clothes.

"I also tried to find stimulating activities for her.

"We tried singing, drawing, music, story tapes, and constant updates from my eldest brother, who was sailing across the Atlantic."

Later, Alice's brothers came home from crossing the Atlantic and university and she was able to go to Africa for four months, something she had long wanted to do.

"But while travelling Alice had a decision to make, whether or not to take up a place she had been offered at Newcastle University.

She said: "In the end I turned it down as I could not see it working out at all."

Instead she found a part-time course nearer to home and now spends three days a week studying in London - while Ruth is cared for by Headway - and the rest of the week looking after her mother.

"I keep coming up with fresh ideas to aid her rehab and mum has made significant progress," said Alice.

She was nominated for Yopey - which rewards young unsung heroes - by Headway.

A spokesman said: "Alice has had to make huge changes to her own plans to care for her mother.

"She never got to take up the course in politics at university. She is adapting her life around Ruth's needs, and has begun a course in production tailoring at the London College of Fashion.

"We have got to know Alice, to see what she does, to note how cheerfully and willingly she does it, and to understand what a remarkable young woman she is."

# Entries are being sought for the next North Herts Yopey awards.

Log on to www.yopey.org

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