Leading light Lara up for national award

Penarth Times: CHARITY FUNDRAISER: Dinas Powys' Lara Cowpe has been nominated for a Citizenship Award at the St David Awards on March 13 CHARITY FUNDRAISER: Dinas Powys' Lara Cowpe has been nominated for a Citizenship Award at the St David Awards on March 13

DINAS Powys cancer survivor Lara Cowpe has spoken or her shock and honour after being nominated for a national award in recognition of her incredible charity fundraising efforts.

Occupational therapist Lara Cowpe, who carried the Olympic Torch in 2012, could be one of the first to hold a St David Award.

The tireless fundraiser has been nominated for the Citizenship Award in the inaugural short list for the Welsh Government backed gongs.

Lara, who works for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, has raised more than £70,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit (TCT) at University Hospital of Wales. Her efforts have already seen her take part in the Olympic Torch relay in 2012 and could now lead to national recognition at the St David Awards ceremony at the Royal College of Music and Drama on March 13.

Lara said she was shocked and honoured to be nominated for the award.

“I was really surprised, as there are so many people doing amazing things, I really did not think I would be shortlisted," she said.

"It is a real honour. I also heard from the person who nominated me just how many people had supported his nomination and I am really touched that people wanted to do that.

“It would mean a lot to me if I was to win. If I was to win, I would see it as not just a recognition of what I have achieved but a recognition of the people who have supported me along the way – my parents and brother, my boyfriend, family, friends and fundraising committee Teen Spirit in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. Without all of these people, I would not be where I am today.

“Also, I hope it will inspire more people to support Teenage Cancer Trust’s work in South Wales and also for people toshare their experiences of cancer.

“By sharing our experience, we can feel less alone, help cancer to be diagnosed sooner and help people feel more empowered to make a difference to young people in Wales who are fighting cancer.”

Lara, from Dinas Powys, was diagnosed with cancer as a child and had to go through two years of chemotherapy so knows first hand how important the work of the TCT unit in Cardiff is.

"In 2010 I found a lump in my neck and a biopsy result showed it was a lymphoma," she said.

"I had to have a lymph node removed and for a month, my family and I were preparing for me to have treatment again.

“Luckily the lymph node showed it was the Epstein – Barr Virus which causes Glandular Fever. One of the things I remember thinking is that if I had had cancer, then the TCT unit at the UHW would have been there for me if I needed it. That is one of the reasons that I continue to raise money for this fantastic charity.”

She continues to help the work of the unit by raising tens of thousands of pounds by organising events and gala nights.

Lara has also set up a local committee to help others stage events and support the unit. Maria Battle, the Chair of Cardiff and ValeUniversity Health Board, said: “I am so pleased that Lara has been nominated for a St David Award.

“The work she has done has made a real difference to so many of the young people we care for at the University Hospital of Wales.

“She would be such a deserving winner and I would like to wish her all the luck in the world from everyone here at the health board and all those who have benefitted from her efforts over the years.”

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