Lockerbie-born carer backs call for nominations for WellChild Awards

Lockerbie-born carer Anna-Marie McLachlan has joined Prince Harry in a call-out for nominations to this year’s WellChild Awards.

Anna-Marie won her WellChild Award last year for her “exceptional care” of a child with complex health needs and was described as “a real-life Mary Poppins” at the ceremony in London’s Kew Gardens when she received the honor from the charity’s patron , The Duke of Sussex.

She was nominated for the Outstanding Professional Award by Camilla Park, who is the mother of 12-year-old Meriel whom Anna-Marie has cared for at their Oxfordshire home since 2012.

The WellChild Awards celebrate the resilience of children living with serious illnesses or complex conditions and honor the dedication of those individuals who go the extra mile to help these children and their families.

And after her experience at last year’s ceremony – which was also attended by celebrities including Ed Sheeran, Ronnie Wood, Amanda Holden, AJ Pritchard and Abby Quinnen and ended with an acoustic performance by singer Anne-Marie – she has joined the prince in encouraging people to nominate carers they know for the top awards.

Anna-Marie said: “It’s fantastic that in my role as “carer” I was recognized as a professional. I’d like to hope this would give other carers the recognition that they deserve.

“Nominating the special person that has made a difference in your life, is a very precious and selfless act, it will mean the world to the nominee and provide a platform for you to shout out your gratitude to all.”

She added: “I have always just done what I felt was needed to help Meriel and her family live the best life that they can. It was extremely touching that Meriel could show her appreciation and express her feelings by nominating me for a WellChild Award. To win the Professional category was overwhelming. We met some very special winners at the ceremony and it was such a memorable day especially with worry of Covid still very present in our lives.”

Anna Marie McLachlan and Meriel and Camilla Park meet Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, at the WellChild Awards ceremony in Kew Gardens.
Anna Marie McLachlan and Meriel and Camilla Park meet Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, at the WellChild Awards ceremony in Kew Gardens.

Meriel was born with a rare congenital muscle disorder, nemaline myopathy which has led to severe skeletal muscle weakness. She requires ventilation 24/7 to assist her breathing and is reliant on a feeding tube for her nutrition.

Her family is full of praise for the way Anna-Marie has spent the past 10 years determined to help Meriel achieve all her dreams, even in the face of considerable physical challenges.

With her help, she can now use a powerchair to enjoy a more independent lifestyle and has tried everything from Guinea Pig therapy to swimming.

Realizing Meriel’s passion for sport, Anna-Marie used it to motivate her and has found ways to tweak everything from football and swimming to wall climbing to make it possible for the youngster to take part, even drawing on her own successes as a black belt in Shotokan karate to make the sport accessible.

Together they have successfully accomplished several fundraising challenges, starting when they created The Dream Stone Triathlon which culminated when Meriel reached the summit of Snowdon. They have also written and illustrated a book about their Dream Stone Challenge which is sold to raise funds for charity.

Prince Harry said: “Like so many, my spirit is consistently renewed by the strength and fortitude of the WellChild community. These children and their parents never cease to amaze and inspire me, and I cherish every opportunity I have to connect with them.

“The last two years have been hard on everyone, but for these families far harder than most. Spread the word that nominations are now open, or nominate someone you know.”

Nominations can be made via the website: and the closing date is midnight on Sunday, February 20.

The categories are: Inspirational Child or Young Person; Caring Child or Young Person; Nurse; Doctor; Outstanding Professional Award.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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