Award for top vol­un­teer

Hamilton Metro News - - FRONT PAGE - Ebony Mor­gan

“They're 100 per cent be­hind me.”

Eil­ish Wilkes be­lieves that with­out the help of her par­ents, Kathy and Pat, she wouldn't be where she is to­day.

They have backed ev­ery “crazy ven­ture” Eil­ish, who has lived with a brain tu­mour since the age of three, has set her mind to.

So it was only fit­ting that when Eil­ish re­ceived the Vol­un­teer of the Year award at Par­lia­ment for her work with young peo­ple with can­cer re­cently, her dad was right be­side her.

Eil­ish, 21, lives with a vi­sion im­pair­ment caused by the brain tu­mour. The tu­mour was dis­cov­ered af­ter five long months and Eil­ish was di­ag­nosed shortly be­fore her third birth­day. How­ever this has not stopped her from max­imis­ing her life. She had her first book pub­lished, and was awarded the Youth Spirit At­ti­tude award last year.

A sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment for Eil­ish comes from a com­bi­na­tion of vol­un­teer­ing and help­ing to de­velop bet­ter care for ado­les­cents and chil­dren with can­cer. Know­ing she and her writ­ing have helped is a big suc­cess. The awards rep­re­sent ev­ery­thing she's done to help other peo­ple, she says.

“It's ex­actly what I set out to do.” Eil­ish uses writ­ing and craft­ing as her ther­a­peu­tic es­cape. From a young age she has loved writ­ing and craft­ing, pro­gress­ing from paint­ing to scrap book­ing, and now pot­tery. She loves lis­ten­ing to au­dio­books and her in­spi­ra­tion to write started when she first dis­cov­ered the au­thor Beatrix Pot­ter.

Eil­ish's first book Hos­pi­tal Hap­pen­ings, is cen­tred around a child, on a hos­pi­tal visit. Eil­ish wrote the book to help young chil­dren elim­i­nate any fears of hos­pi­tals. Her sec­ond book will be about guide dogs. For her third she hopes to write about a young girl with can­cer.

Eil­ish and her fam­ily moved to Taupo¯ from Auck­land four months ago. With her guide dog, Loie, she's been amazed by the wel­com­ing com­mu­nity.

Eil­ish feels that the new stan­dards of care that she has helped de­vel­oped will re­flect the work put in.

She hopes that from now on doc­tors will re­spect con­cerns their pa­tients have, and that through her, young peo­ple will be more aware and know the signs.

Eil­ish and Loie will be run­ning the Auck­land Marathon for Guide Dogs in Oc­to­ber.

■ To do­nate, visit auck­land­marathon2017.ev­ery­day­hero.com/nz/eil­ish-loie/wiz­ard/share

PIC­TURE: LAU­RILEE McMICHAEL

WORK­ING FOR OTH­ERS: Taupo¯ woman Eil­ish Wilkes re­ceived a Vol­un­teer of the Year award at Par­lia­ment for her work with young peo­ple liv­ing with can­cer. She is pic­tured with her guide dog, Loie.

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