ANYA May Priestley raised an amazing £1,000 by doing the Race for Life for Bowelbabe in July in memory of her grandma.
Her feat was all the more impressive due to the many personal challenges the 15-year-old schoolgirl from Lundwood has faced in recent years.
Anya was diagnosed with autism in April 2018 and has struggled with anxiety and mental health problems since lockdown.
Mum Melanie said: “Anya is an intelligent girl who struggles socially.
“Following Covid when life became ‘normal’, Anya’s mental health deteriorated significantly leading to a breakdown (depression, separation anxiety, social anxiety, fatigue and OCD).
“From October 2021 she was too unwell to attend school and struggled to engage with life.. Anya loved lockdown she didn’t have to socialise and could stay at home where she felt safe.
“Within three weeks of having to go back to school, the signs were there – she was really struggling.
“Anya’s worked so hard to slowly learn to live again and develop new skills that will help her into adulthood.
“She now attends a special school in Rotherham and is back full-time.
“Every day is still a real challenge but she is going amazing.”
During summer 2022 Anya lost both her grandma and her nannie and earlier this year she decided to run the Race for Life for Bowelbabe at Locke Parke in hope that one day other children might not have to lose their grandma like she did.
Melanie said: “Anya struggles with fatigue and even going to the event with so many people there was a struggle.
“It was way past her comfort zone and it wasn’t a pleasurable experience there were tears but she stuck with it, determined to raise money for a great cause and she actually ran all the way even though we had said it didn’t matter how long it took her to complete it.
“Anya is unable to go outside without someone supporting her and due to the severity of her depression this was a huge challenge.
“Friends and family have been so kind in helping support Anya on this journey, she was desperate to make her grandma proud and she has absolutely done just that.”
Anya has been nominated for a Proud of Barnsley award for her bravery and determination.