Otley: National grant scheme established in name of cystic fibrosis sufferer
10:15 30 July 2014
A national award scheme has been launched in memory of a Suffolk-born woman whose “tenacity and perseverance” defied the disease she lived with for almost 30 years.
Helen Barrett, who was born and brought up in Otley, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was just three years old.
Doctors thought she would not see her teenage years, but Helen grew up determined to realise her dreams in spite of the disease, setting up home with her boyfriend and running a successful gym, as well as travelling the world.
Helen, who went to Otley Primary School and Farlingaye High School, in Woodbridge, died needing a lung transplant a week before her 32nd birthday in October 2010, but her legacy has now been honoured with an award for young sufferers keen to follow her example.
The Helen Barrett Young Entrepreneurs Award scheme, launched by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, will offer financial awards and mentoring to people aged 18-32 who live with the condition, which affects the lungs and digestive system by clogging them up with mucus.
Helen’s father, Tony, a retired BT manager who lives in Otley, said: “It took years of tenacity and perseverance to get their gym established but eventually, thanks to a lot of help along the way, Helen created a successful business.
“Thanks to my daughter’s efforts, the business continues to thrive and is a lasting memorial today. She would have been delighted that there is now a chance for other people with cystic fibrosis to experience the excitement of starting their own business.”
The scheme will give grants of £500 to £2,000 to winning entrants. It will run in partnership with training company A4e, which will provide a business advisors and mentors, and also give winners access to employment and training services.
Kieran Cornwall, senior strategic partnerships manager for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust said the scheme was a chance to offer young sufferers help on their first steps towards success.
“We are really proud to support this exciting new award with backing from A4e,” he said.
“It is a fitting tribute to Helen Barrett, who had cystic fibrosis and set up her own successful business.
“We hope that we can help mentor and support many young people living with cystic fibrosis so, in turn, they can further their own goals by running their own business.
“We hope to discover the next Rob Law – the inventor of the children’s ‘Trunki’ suitcases who happens to have cystic fibrosis.
“This awards programme is supporting other would-be entrepreneurs who have the potential to take the business world by storm.”
Aaron Aby, 24, a performance coach from Wrexham, is supporting the awards scheme.
Mr Aby, who has been running his own business for three years, said: “Anyone with cystic fibrosis who has a business idea they want to take forward should grasp this opportunity.
“I know from experience setting up a business is not easy – it takes hard work and determination.
“This awards scheme can give that extra boost to make that process easier.”
For details on how to apply for the scheme, visit cysticfibrosis.org.uk/entrepreneurs.
Applications close on Monday, September 8.