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Swansea student joins BBC Children in Need challenge

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As announced on BBC’s The One Show on 21 October, a group of young people has been selected to take part in a new fundraising challenge for BBC Children in Need.

The Surprise Squad is made up of five inspirational young people who have been supported by BBC Children in Need and want to give back and lend a helping hand to benefit others.

Joined by The One Show presenters Alex Jones, Ronan Keating and Jermaine Jenas, the Surprise Squad will head to locations around the country where they will complete surprise challenges for BBC Children in Need funded projects that are in need of a little help with something – which could be anything from creating a secret garden for a children’s hospice, or organising a much needed community fundraising event to give a local project a boost.

The team of young people will deliver their surprises and complete them within a day. The One Show viewers will be able to watch how the surprises unfold each evening, whilst learning the young people’s inspiring stories, during BBC Children in Need Appeal Week.

Among the Surprise Squad is Gower College Swansea A Level student Nathan Pollard-Jones, who is 17.

Nathan was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when he was 13 years old in 2018. He was an active teenager but was feeling fatigued so he went to the doctor and was eventually diagnosed with cancer. Nathan spent three years in treatment with a lot of time spent in hospital, which he found tough as he had to spend a lot of time away from school and his friends.

In addition, some of his treatment was delivered during Covid-19 which made things even harder as he had to isolate from family and friends to minimise his risk of catching it. Nathan has recently finished treatment and attends College, where he is studying A Levels.

He has been supported by Teenage Cancer Trust, who receive funding from BBC Children in Need to deliver the Find Your Sense of Tumour weekend which helps young people rebuild their lives after cancer. They bring young people with cancer together to hear from experts, to get advice and most importantly, to be themselves and have fun.

Nathan said: “Having recently finished my cancer treatment, I feel so proud that I’m able to be a part of the Surprise Squad. I hope that the surprises we create make a huge difference to others who are facing challenges.”

The One Show’s Alex Jones will be joining the team during one of the surprises and said: “I’m excited to be back on the green sofa, and to be joining the Surprise Squad as they deliver these really special challenges for BBC Children in Need funded projects across the country. I can’t wait for the audience to see what the Squad get up to and I hope that they’re inspired by their incredible stories.”

Ronan Keating will also be joining the team for one of the surprises. He said: “We’re so excited to be delivering these surprises for worthy organisations across the country. We hope that these surprises will make a huge difference to those receiving them and we can’t wait to bring the audience along to see what the Surprise Squad get up to!”

Jermaine Jenas added: “I’m looking forward to seeing some of the amazing things that the Surprise Squad get up to, and how what they do will benefit communities across the country, and I hope that our audience love watching it all too!”

The other members of the Surprise Squad are:

Ore, 19 from Barry, Wales. Ore is a young carer who helps look after her younger sister Ire who is 14 and has Sickle Cell Disorder. Ore was the main carer for her mother, who passed away two years ago in October 2019 following many years of illness. Ore lives with her father and her sister. Ore is a passionate advocate for families who live with Sickle Cell Disorder – she wants to breakdown the stigma that can sometimes affect people with Sickle Cell Disorder. She also wants to highlight just how serious the impact of Sickle Cell Disorder can be on people’s lives and give people from all walks of life a better understanding of the condition. Ore has been supported by Friends of Cymru Sickle Cell and Thalassemia through their youth project and their home support service.

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Ore said: “I’m so looking forward to being a part of the Surprise Squad and doing something that will make a huge difference to other children and young people across the country.”

Joseph, 19 from Liverpool. Joseph has cerebral palsy and has been attending the BBC Children in Need funded project Stick ‘n’ Step since he was two years old. He says the project has changed his life in many ways, not least by teaching him how to walk. Joseph underwent a major operation in 2016 in which he had to learn to walk again, he has since recovered and now describes himself as someone with a hidden disability, as following his operation his disability is less prominent.  This can be difficult for him to explain though sometimes, as he stills finds certain moves or work that he doesn’t have strength for, hard to accomplish.

Joseph said: “Being part of the Surprise Squad this year is something that I’m really looking forward to. I want to share my story and hope that I can help raise money for other children and young people like me.”

Roisin, 16 from Derry/Londonderry, NI. When Roisin was 14, she had a stroke which caused her life changing disabilities. She spent three months in hospital and had to relearn how to walk, talk and eat.  Up until then she had been a healthy teenager who loved singing and performing. Since having the stroke, things can be quite difficult for Roisin as she isn’t able to do all of the things that she used to but her confidence is being rebuilt and she’s looking forward to being a part of the Surprise Squad. Roisin has been supported by Brain Injury Matters who deliver a youth empowerment project with funding from BBC Children in Need.

Roisin said: “Being part of the Surprise Squad is a huge achievement for me. I’m really looking forward to helping make a difference that will benefit others. I hope that those who can do, donate.”

Dylan, 18 from Glasgow. Dylan has autism. He developed a rare condition called MDP Syndrome when he was 18 months old, finally receiving a diagnosis aged 10. MDP only affects him and 15 other people in the world and it causes deafness, fat loss under the skin, joint stiffness and eye problems. Dylan is really passionate about raising awareness of his condition, throughout his school life he has delivered speeches to his classmates about MDP and also uses his skills in photography to do this, as he is a passionate and talented photographer. He has been supported by Indepen-dance for many years, which delivers dance sessions for disabled young people.

Dylan said: “I have spent my life raising awareness for my condition with school friends and my wider community.  I’m really looking forward to being able to share my story with The One Show viewers. I hope I can help to raise money that will go on to support other young people like me.”

Rob Unsworth, Head of The One Show said: “This year we really want to give a helping hand to some of the projects that have been funded by BBC Children in Need. The Surprise Squad will help provide a little bit of magic to projects across the country, whilst sharing their inspiring stories too.”

Tommy Nagra, Director of Content at BBC Children in Need said: “It’s fantastic The One Show are back with a brand new challenge this year. The amazing stories of the young people overcoming their own challenges to thank, surprise and delight  others in need  is truly inspiring .  We hope viewers at home are equally inspired by their efforts. Please tune in to The One Show to see the amazing things this remarkable team of young people achieve!” 

For details on how to donate and support The Surprise Squad for BBC Children in Need please visit www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey 

ENDS –

BBC Children in Need’s vision is that every child in the UK has a safe, happy and secure childhood and the chance to reach their potential.  The charity will realise this vision by supporting, promoting and publicising work that addresses the challenges that children and young people face and work that builds their skills and resilience.

BBC Children in Need is currently supporting over 2,500 local charities and projects in communities across the UK that are helping children and young people facing a range of disadvantages such as living in poverty, being disabled or ill, or experiencing distress, neglect or trauma.

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