2021 Winner

Olivia Blackburn

Overcame a series of mental and physical health challenges and personal tragedy to achieve her dream of helping others through nursing.

Diagnosed with epilepsy and cerebral palsy after a mini-stroke in 2007, Olivia also needed major surgery on her jaw due a condition that affected her speech and ability to eat.

Her ongoing poor health meant her education suffered, as she often missed classes because of feeling unwell or having to attend hospital appointments.

Olivia said: “School was quite a difficult time for me, I was also at dermatology as I had a skin condition – I tried every cream under the sun, but nothing seemed to work.  I used to have to wear bandages around my arms and different clothes instead of normal uniform which had a massive impact on my self-esteem.”

Olivia, now 24, decided to leave education early to focus on her health. She went for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help with her anxiety and depression, and had the operation on her jaw. 

But just four months after the surgery, her dad passed away from cancer. Despite her grief, and upset by the prospect of missing out going to university or college due to her disrupted education, Olivia tried to stay positive.  

She began working part-time in a children’s activity and play centre and when her mum was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin follicular lymphoma stage 4, she supported her through it.

Olivia then won a place on a Prince’s Trust course to help young people gain the skills and experience needed to work in the NHS. 

Olivia quickly flourished, and after completing the programme she secured a job as a Healthcare Support Worker in the same Haematology Ward that her mum had previously been admitted to. 

Olivia has now been in the role for over a year and has now been accepted onto the vocational pathway to becoming a nurse..

She says: “The Prince’s Trust and NHS have had a massive impact on my life – as soon as I started the course, I already saw a positive future for myself. A future that I didn’t see before, having a career I would be proud of, and one I love.”