Brave youngster Abigail McKenzie has been chosen as the winner of Preston’s Switch On Star competition.Advertisement
Together with the organisers of the Christmas Lights Switch On, Preston BID, we selected Abigail for the inspirational way she has battled her own challenges while going above and beyond to raise money to help others.
Abigail’s mum Helen said: “Abigail was born with cerebral palsy, and in 2018 she underwent the neurological procedure SDR, which was shown on the BBC.
“Abigail was a model for the Alder Hey and Matalan pyjama campaign in 2019, and earlier this year she did the Captain Sir Tom’s 100 Challenge raising £1,100 for Ronald McDonald House by walking 100 laps of our estate, even with a fractured wrist.
“Following this challenge she underwent multilevel surgery and now has a two-year recovery ahead of her. Despite having to relearn to walk for the third time, she has not once complained.”
Read more: Preston youngster completes Captain Tom’s 100 Challenge to raise funds for hospital where she stayed after surgery
Abigail received multiple nominations, one of which read: “Abi is the strongest bravest young lady that I have ever known, and has the brightest smile you will ever see. She is truly an inspiration to all who know her.”
Other nominations described Abigail as ‘courageous’, ‘a warrior’ and ‘ a superhero’.
On telling Abigail the news that she’d won Helen said: “She was very excited and is very happy to be the Switch On Star.”
Abigail will be invited on stage at the Christmas Lights Switch On to speak to the event hosts, before joining famous faces to light up the city.
The event, which is free to attend, takes place on the Flag Market this Saturday (20 November) from 5.30pm, and will feature a host of performers and special guests.
Read more: Preston Christmas lights switch on 2021 details and timings confirmed
While Abigail is a most deserving winner, the number of brilliant nominations meant the judges’ decision was a tricky one. Here we share some of our favourite examples of Proud Prestonians…
“Adrian works his absolute backside off to support and provide for the Preston community. Year after year we get to enjoy the amazing Windrush Festival and children’s Christmas party all for free; not to mention the various support meetings, education provision, etc.”
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“Ava is an amazing and dedicated disability advocate. At just 15 years old she has achieved so much for the deaf/blind community and through her amazing artistic endeavours she continues to push for equality and create a bridge between the able and disabled community.”
Read more: Deafblind Broughton teenager shortlisted for national charity award
“Brian suffers from quadriplegia cerebral palsy and has inspired so many at his college with persevering In looking for a job, even though he had so many knockbacks. He has donated his birthday money to Disability NW to help other disabled users to find a job! He is keen to talk to others about resilience and the power for other disabled users to know they have a place in society.”
Read more: ‘Dreams do come true’ as 17-year-old with quadriplegia cerebral palsy gets job at Preston North End
“Byron works tirelessly with the youths of Preston and beyond trying his best to tackle knife crime through his own tragic experience. He educates and helps them focus their negative experiences, through boxing and educational talks and offers incentives to tackle antisocial behaviour in the area. He is selfless in what he gives to the community to make the streets a safer place for our own children to grow up on.”
Read more: Brother of Jon-Jo Highton launches knife crime campaign ‘The J-J Effect’ in his name
“Cathy runs a community theatre company called Kidz4Kidz and has done for the last 20 years. All the money raised from weekly subs, fundraising and shows gets donated to a local child in the area who may need it. All of this, while running a full time job, having a family to take care of, and being a continuous rock for friends and family. Cathy is a hero.”
Read more: Kidz 4 Kidz raising funds for 20th anniversary show after Preston theatre closed down
“During lockdown Chris provided hot meals to the elderly and people in need and still continues to do this with lots of other volunteers. He also raises money for different charities including walking to Liverpool and to Wales where I was lucky enough to join in. It made me want to carry on helping knowing I was doing it for such a good cause and that was all down to Chris.”
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“Des was out of work throughout the lockdowns but entertained people when they couldn’t get out to pubs and clubs by creating a ‘disco’ from his garage. He is the father of Melanie Grant who sadly passed away at the age of 12, and Des and family set up a charity to raise money for a scanner at Royal Preston Hospital to help other children get a diagnosis earlier.”
Read more: St Catherine’s Hospice invites you to Rock The Lockdown in an online party this weekend
“Faz has been as a voluntary youth worker for 25 to 30 years and always puts the youth first, over everything else. He will be a huge reason why so many youngsters have gone on to do well in life, and why so many kids were off the streets, as he ran the youth club, multiple nights a week, for many years.”
Read more: University of Central Lancashire staff encouraged to volunteer in Preston
“Garry is a talented promoter, creative and photographer. His events are creative, passionate and diverse. He strives tirelessly to combat challenges, red tape, lack of resources, closed venues and even the Preston weather. When faced with hard lockdown he brought us our first outdoor photographic exhibition posted all around the city streets.”
Read more: Pictures of Lancashire Photography Festival’s opening weekend in Preston
“James is a serving soldier who lost his mum due to Covid. In honour of her he did a charity walk of 154 miles in 48 hours with 59kg on his back and raised over £8,000 pounds for BLESMA. He also volunteers as a football coach for Under 12s with a range of kids with different needs. He is a true hero and I’m proud to have him serving our country.”
Read more: Preston soldier completes 48-hour march in memory of mum who died from Covid
“Pete is in his 80s and has been volunteering for years, especially during the pandemic when he has helped every day without fail with the food bank and community activities. He is always the first one on the scene.”
“Roisín has battled stage 4 cancer, raised thousands for charity, adopted her little boy, managed her business selling cancer-related items and generally been an inspiration. She also became a Daily Mirror columnist amongst other things, all whilst battling cancer.”
Read more: ‘I made it!’ Lea cancer fighter’s joy at three year remission milestone
“Victoria has been suffering from serious mental health issues due to the pandemic, however, she picked herself back up and now she helps the elderly as a live-in carer and spreads awareness of how mental health matters. She is a modern day warrior who wants to make this world shine that much brighter for everyone around her.”
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