Pupil achieves a silver award while battling chronic condition

Zoe Johnson
Zoe Johnson

A year 11 pupil is celebrating having completed the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award despite suffering with a chronic neurological condition.

Zoe Johnson, who attends Akeley Wood School, was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) in year 7 and experiences severe exhaustion, nausea and pain.

The illness has left her housebound, sometimes bedbound, yet Zoe was determined to undertake the Duke of Edinburgh challenge. She has successfully done so through a specialist provider which allowed her to complete the required expedition in her wheelchair, with the company of a dedicated carer and plenty of scheduled rest breaks.

Zoe’s mother, Rachel, said: “Zoe has always loved the outdoors and before she was diagnosed with ME, she was a keen scout and particularly enjoyed hiking and camping. She always wanted to do her Duke of Edinburgh Award and she was determined that having ME wouldn’t stop her.”

As part of the award, Zoe also organised events including a cake sale, non-uniform day and a fashion show, raising almost £5,000 in total which was donated to two ME charities.

Rachel added: “We are so proud of what she has achieved, particularly given the obstacles she has had to overcome to achieve them. Everything she does comes at a serious cost to her health and means a big relapse in her symptoms with a long, slow recovery time. Next year, Zoe will be taking her GCSE exams and plans to go on to do her Gold Duke of Edinburgh award.”

Support Zoe’s fundraising efforts, at https://www.justgiving.com/Zoe-Johnson-InvestinME