Emma Harris and Emily Thackray, whose charity has won a top award and been nominated for anotherby Nigel Kerton The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald
Cystic fibrosis sufferer Emma Harris has spoken of her pride after a charity she set up with a friend won a top award.
Mrs Harris, 34, of Raffin Lane, Pewsey, set up the charity Live Life Then Give Life with fellow sufferer Emily Thackray, to encourage more people to become organ donors.
The group has only been running two years but already it has picked up the Campaigning Team of the Year award from the Charity Times, a journal for UK charities, beating major and long established charities including Help The Aged.
Charity chairman Mrs Harris said: “We are absolutely overwhelmed to have won this prestigious award; it is a massive achievement for us.
“The entire team work so hard and with virtually no funding – this is the beginning of our best chapter yet.’’ Now the women have heard they are shortlisted for the Cosmopolitan magazine’s Women of the Year awards.
They have to go to the Banqueting House in London on November 5 to learn if they have won.
They have been nominated for their determination to make more people aware of the need to become organ donors.
The judges will be TV presenter Fearne Cotton, Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah and the singer Jamelia.
Mrs Harris and Miss Thackray, 24, both suffer with cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition causing clogging off the lungs together with recurrent and severe chest infections and other complications.
For those, like Miss Thackray, who have a more severe degree of the condition the only cure was a double lung transplant.
She had just 12 months to live when the charity was launched and time was running out as it had for so many of their friends with CF.
But Miss Thackray was one of the lucky ones and in November last year she received a double lung transplant when the end of her life was nearing.
She said: “My transplant did not only save my life, it transformed it.
“I am so lucky to be here thanks to the gift of a stranger but also acutely aware that 50 per cent of the people in my situation will die due to the shortage of donors.
“Knowing that people may never even get this chance is the strongest motivation of all.”
Mrs Harris was diagnosed with CF when she was just four weeks old and has vastly reduced lung capacity although she is not currently in need of a transplant.
“My lungs are those of a person 118 years old,” said Mrs Harris who, with her husband and carer Brad, has recently become involved with Pewsey Amateur Dramatic Society and has appeared in their productions.
Mrs Harris stressed that the Live Life Then Give Life charity was set up not just for the 7,500 CF sufferers in the UK but to help everyone needing a transplant.
Its aim is to get many more people signing up as organ donors and making their families aware of their wishes so that in the event of their death there is no delay in getting their organs to people who need them.
The two women have lost more than 20 fellow sufferers who had become friends and who were waiting for organ transplants when they died.
They have already run a successful Laughter For Life event in London supported by top comic Bill Bailey.
Now they are thinking of holding Music For Life and Fashion For Life events to promote their charity.
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves