Lydia, 9, is an inspiration

A BRAUNTON youngster whose story has captured hearts across the country has been honoured for her inspirational crusade to help others. Lydia Cross is nine years old and lost both her legs to meningitis when she was two, but has become a local star for he

A BRAUNTON youngster whose story has captured hearts across the country has been honoured for her inspirational crusade to help others.

Lydia Cross is nine years old and lost both her legs to meningitis when she was two, but has become a local star for her courage and fund raising exploits, especially for wounded servicemen who have also lost limbs.

On Saturday she was presented with a Rotary Young Citizen Award in Bournemouth, organised by Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland, after she raised �14,000 in a sponsored swim for her favourite Help for Heroes charity.

With a courage and maturity of someone much older, Lydia has endured numerous operations, together with the frustration of being confined to a wheelchair for months on end as they heal - but through it all she has kept smiling and helped others too.


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She was nominated by Braunton Rotary Club for her award and - collecting it from Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq - said she was "very proud and honoured."

Lydia told the audience: "Raise as much money as you can for any charity that you can."

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On Friday she was joined by her own heroes - disabled servicemen Ben McBean and Mark Ormrod - for a mile sponsored run from Braunton's Agricultural Inn to the Williams Arms.

Dad Tony Cross served at RMB Chivenor and is Devon co-ordinator for Help for Heroes. Lydia was keen to help and in the process inherited three "big brothers" in the form of Ben, Mark and fellow serviceman Matt Kingston.

She hoped to join them for a mile of the London Marathon on Sunday, but was not old enough, so they joined her in Braunton instead.

"It was a big opportunity to do the run and really great to have them there and all my friends from Kingsacre School too," said Lydia.

"I wanted to raise money for the soldiers because I know if I do they will be able to get better things to help them."

Mum Jodie said the event had raised around �2,500, adding: "It was breathtaking to see the hundreds who took part and lined the route - the whole of Braunton came out to support our lads, which was fantastic.

"The lads say Lydia is an inspiration and when they find it hard they see her jumping around and smiling and wonder how they can give up."

Next month Lydia will be meeting the Queen and at the end of the summer the family will be climbing the highest mountain in Wales, Pen Y Fan, to raise more money.

On September 25 a Surf for Heroes charity event is taking place at Saunton.

Show support for Help for Heroes at Ben McBean's fund raising page: www.justgiving.com/BenMcbean2010.

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