DESPITE battling a series of complex and debilitating health conditions for almost half of her life, a young woman from Stocksfield has won national recognition for the work she does to help others.

Aged just 22, Kate Stanforth co-ordinates a team of 16 volunteers from her bedroom, who offer support to families who find themselves with children in hospitals all over the country.

The fact that she manages to do this while dealing with chronic illnesses, which leave her suffering restricted mobility, exhaustion and constant pain, has not gone unnoticed.

For Kate, who launched Project Parent and began fund-raising to deliver gift packs full of essentials for a hospital stay in 2014, has won the Most Inspirational Project Award at the annual O 2 Think Big Digital Awards.

“I’ve had £2,800 in grants from the O 2 Think Big scheme to help with Project Parent – they’ve been so supportive – so to get the award was amazing,” said Kate, who was diagnosed with ME nine years ago and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) three years ago.

“The ME means I get tired after doing simple things like walking across a room,” explained Kate.

“And the EDS means the collagen in my body is too stretchy so joints like my hips, ankles, shoulder and wrists dislocate quite a lot.”

All of this means Kate was not well enough to travel to London to receive her award, after her project was one of just 30 shortlisted from hundreds of entries.

Instead her parents Tracy and Steve visited the O 2 Think Big Hub, which was established to give young people with big ideas a chance to get them off the ground.

“I made a virtual appearance,” laughed Kate, who sent a video message which was played during the ceremony.

She is also now being encouraged to help mentor other young people by becoming a Think Big Champion.

The award is a much-needed boost for Kate, who was recently told by specialist doctors that they expect her complex condition to be a life-long battle, and is now raising funds to buy a power chair to help with mobility issues.

“I have hospital appointments about four times a week and at the moment they’re really the only times I can get out and about,” said Kate.

“I have a manual wheelchair which is old now and really heavy for my parents to push so having a power chair would make a big difference.”

A chair suitable for Kate’s condition will cost around £3,000 and the local community have already rallied round to raise over £1,400.

Fund-raising events are being planned at The Feathers Inn at Hedley on the Hill and donations can be pledged online at www.