South Shields schoolgirl who lost her dad on Christmas Day is star of charity Crohn's and Colitis UK's festive appeal
A South Shields youngster who lost her dad on Christmas Day has inspired a national charity’s festive fundraising campaign.
Eli-Jo House, 13, was named Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s Young Fundraiser of the Year in June, for her efforts raising cash in memory of her dad.
Matt Fryer died on December 25, 2017, aged 38, from sepsis, while receiving treatment for Crohn’s Disease at St Mark’s Hospital in London.
After seeing his battle with the condition, Eli-Jo completed the Junior Great North Run in 2018, raising £800 to help fund research into Inflammatory Bowel Disease and provide support for sufferers.
Now her story has inspired the charity’s Christmas appeal, which launched this month in memory of Matt.
Copies of her handwritten letters and photos of her and her dad have been sent out to everyone on the charity’s mailing list, and anyone who makes a donation will receive a exclusive Star of Hope decoration for their Christmas tree.
“It was hard to watch my dad live with Crohn’s Disease, so it means the world to be chosen,” said Eli-Jo.
“It was a big shock at first but it felt like a brilliant opportunity ever. I just hope I have done my dad, family and all Crohn’s and Colitis patients proud.”
The Harton Academy pupil will be hanging the school’s own Star of Hope on the Christmas tree when it arrives later this week.
Head of Year 9, Mr Ian Cooper, who has supported Eli-Jo, said: “Eli-Jo has been amazing, she went through a really difficult time losing her father but is now going from strength to strength.
“The work she has been doing with Crohn’s and Colitis UK is superb. Harton Academy’s pupils and staff are immensely proud of her.
“The school has its own star of hope that Eli-Jo is going to put onto our Christmas tree. Staff will continue to support Eli-Jo in any way they possibly can. We wish her the very best of luck with all of her charity work.”
Eli-Jo’s mum, Jenny House added: “For Eli-Jo it’s about raising awareness. She is such a positive person and now she feels like she is doing something to help. She is really proud of herself.”