A woman with a facial deformity has spoken of how a charity nominated for a major ward has made her feel she is more than “just somebody with a disability”.
Beth Lewis, 26, from Mold, Flintshire, was born with Apert Syndrome – a rare genetic disorder which affects the shape of the head, face, hands and feet.
Over the past 18 months, she has attended the CELT (Centre for Equine Learning and Therapy) project at Clwyd Special Riding Centre (CSRC) in Llanfynydd, Flintshire .
The charity, nominated for the 2018 National Lottery Awards, uses the healing power of horses and supports people with physical, learning and mental health needs.
Its newest project, CELT, was launched in 2016 after the charity received a grant of almost £250,000 from the National Lottery’s Big Lottery Fund three years ago.
She told the Daily Post how the charity has changed her life.
“I started coming here because I needed somewhere to go, I needed to get some confidence back and to have a purpose – and they’ve given me all those things,” Beth said.
“It makes me feel as if I don’t have a disability.
“I know that sounds daft, but it makes me feel like I’m a person, not just somebody with a disability.
“No place on this earth has ever made me feel as special as much as they have.
“Everybody here has just accepted me for who I am, and nobody has ever done that before.
“I see the massive difference they make to everybody. It’s a very special place.”
Sorrel Taylor, Clwyd Special Riding Centre manager, said: “To get this far is amazing. We’re astonished to up against so many other fantastic charities, who also make such a difference.
“It’s very humbling and a real privilege to be a part of it.
“You strive to make a difference and to be part of a healing process with the horse, so be a part of that and to be a part of small changes to change somebody’s life is humbling and very emotional.
“It makes you look at yourself, and I am so proud to be here.”
CELT, nominated as a finalist in the Education category, however is just one of three North Wales charity projects that have been recognised nationally for their life-changing work.
Same But Different
Representing North Wales in the Arts category is Mold-based Rare Aware project, run by Same but Different – a charity which uses arts to raise awareness of disability.
The Rare Aware project uses striking to highlight people affected by rare diseases and to help reduce isolation and counteract prejudice.
It was set up by photographer Ceridwen Hughes, whose son Isaac was born with a rare syndrome called Moebius.
Mari Lewis, a toddler from Llandwrog near Caernarfon , was diagnosed with Wagr syndrome – a rare genetic eye condition which causes high risk for developing certain types of cancer, and possible learning delays.
Speaking of the project, her mum, Caryl, said: “Mari took part in one of the photographic projects and it was really important to us as a family to share our experiences.
“From the very beginning life has been difficult for Mari.
“Very few people are aware of the condition and it is through the work that Same but Different does that we can highlight these conditions and their impact.
“We really do hope people vote in the National Lottery awards.”
Ms Hughes, who launched the project last October, said: “Most people don’t realise that one in every 17 people are affected by a rare disease in the UK – and 75 per cent of these affect children.
“The project cannot make people better or help them find a miraculous cure but it can help people who feel isolated and in need to reach out to their community, breaking down barriers of isolation.
“It would mean a huge amount to win the award, not just for me, but to all the people who have taken part on the project and it would really help raise the profile.”
Blaenau Ffestiniog ’s Y Dref Werdd (The Green Town) community environment project is also in the running for the winning title in the Best Environment category.
The project safeguards local habitats, offers advice to help people tackle fuel poverty, reduce food waste, access conservation qualifications and find employment.
It has worked with 400 families to implement simple energy saving techniques, helping people to collectively save £200,000.
Project Manager, Gwydion ap Wynn, says: “We are thrilled to have made it through to the finals.
“We don’t just help the environment. Our aim is also to improve people’s wellbeing – mentally, physically and financially – and boost the local economy.”
The winners of the seven National Lottery Awards categories will each get a £5,000 cash prize to spend on their project, and will appear on the annual BBC One awards show.
Voting closes on Friday, July 27.
To vote, visit lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards, call 08448369680 or use the #NLAProjectCELT to vote on Twitter.
Source : DailyPost