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WINNERS 2017

Storm Burgess

Animal lover Storm could have felt sorry for herself when, aged ten, she began to suffer a number of serious health problems.

storm1The first blow was when doctors investigating a severe cough she'd had for several years diagnosed her with cystic fibrosis, although tests later showed that was not the cause.

Then she started having problems in her eyes and was told she was going to lose her sight.

But instead, to the amazement of her family, Storm decided she would take her mind off her problems - by helping make life better for animals.

Over the last year she has raised more than £12,000 for 16 different animal charities, by organising raffles, cake sales, tombolas and charity nights.

She also sells her own toys, DVDs and other belongings to raise money, donates her pocket money, and often puts on fundraising events at her school, Sheffield Park Academy, during lunch breaks and playtimes.

Storm also goes into shops and supermarkets asking them to donate cat and dog food, which she then takes to local animal shelters and kennels.

She even managed to secure the support of supermarket Morrisons, which provides vouchers as well as food to help feed animals in the rescue centres she helps.

And every day before going to school she takes food to feed a local colony of feral cats near her home in Sheffield.

Not surprisingly, Storm's parents Tracy and Andy are bursting with pride about how much she has achieved, especially knowing how much she has gone through.

Tracy, 46, said: "She's just amazing. She was a healthy girl and then suddenly a load of problems all arrived at the same time. Doctors didn't know what the problem was. At one point she had 33 hospital appointments in the space of three months.

"But she decided not to let it get her down and started fundraising.

"She's always loved animals, she's been vegetarian for the last six years, and has gained so much from going to the rescue centres and helping out."

For her first fundraising event, Storm got people to sponsor her to bake 50 buns in only two hours, which she then sold - making over £200.

She also put on a charity night at the Mayfield Alpacas animal park in Sheffield, raising £1800.

Tracy added: "But she doesn't take any credit for herself. We're so proud of her for winning such a big award, but if she hears me talking about it she tells me off for showing her up! She takes it in her stride and can't understand the amazing things she has done."

Storm, who has an older brother Reece, 13, said: "I have always loved animals and do whatever I can to help them.

"Humans can tell you when something's wrong or if they are being neglected, but animals can't. That's why we need to find out what is happening to them and try to help.

"It's so rewarding just being able to look around and see the animals I am helping. One time when I went up to the rescue centre I saw a dog that desperately needed medication, and I was able to buy it for him. He got really well and it probably saved his life."

Storm, who has four cats, two dogs and a gerbil, says that she wants to become a vet when she is older, and ultimately wants to reach her personal fundraising target of £10,000.

Last year Storm was guest of honour at the House of Lords where she received an award in recognition of her fundraising efforts.

She said: "I want to continue helping animals for the rest of my life and I think this is a really good way.

"I got really excited when my mum told me I had won the Animal Heroes award. I was running around screaming and cuddling my dog."

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