A 19-year-old London-Cypriot is one of eight winners in a national awards scheme run by Rotary.
The Rotary Young Citizen Awards celebrate the amazing achievements of inspirational young people, under the age of 25, across Great Britain and Ireland, many of whom have assumed important responsibilities at a very young age.
Theo Sergiou from Edmonton, North London, is one of the winners after being nominated by Rotary Enfield Chase.
Aged just two-and-a-half months, Theo was diagnosed with bilateral Retinoblastoma (cancer in both my eyes) and after treatment, doctors regained some of his sight. However, aged four, he was diagnosed with cancer again, this time the tumour had grown so big, his parents had been told he had only a few days to live, the cancer was terminal. With treatment though, the tumours stopped growing. Theo says: “I still am partially blind and in fear knowing that the cancer could come out of remission one day and kill me, but I survived.”
“Even though I encounter daily barriers being visually impaired, I am adamant not to let this affect my everyday life and will go over and beyond to do any aspiration I set for myself and inspire others.”
His ongoing medical condition and regular hospital admissions haven’t stopped him from doing so much for others. He’s the London representative on the UK’s Youth Parliament and is passionate about reducing knife crime. He was recruited to the Youth Advisory Forum, the first ever youth civil service body and Theo is the youngest person in British history to contribute to a No. 10 Cabinet meeting.
As an inpatient at BARTS hospital in 2014, he realised how little say young people have in their own care and became the co-founder of BARTS YES FORUM – Youth Empowerment Squad which now stretches across the BARTS Trust, set up to help improve the experience of young patients.
During the Coronavirus Pandemic, he is giving peer support across the 5 BARTS hospital sites in London to those aged from 11 to 19 who are concerned about being in hospital or don’t want to go to hospital appointments and are worried about their survival.
Theo said: “As my motto goes, I don’t need a reason to do things, I need a reason not to. I hope this Award inspires other people to try the same outlook. With the recent outbreak of Covid-19, I draw even closer to these principles, knowing how precious life truly is. This Award has allowed me to reflect over my life experiences and have hope that growth behind barriers is always possible; never before has this message been so importance to us all”.
He is also supporting kids in education writing an open letter to the Prime Minister about the lack of provision during Lockdown for youngsters with special educational needs who, he says, are suffering mental health problems and not getting an education and also those who are being marginalised because they are digitally disadvantaged due to lack of access to modern technology.
Theo is a lay member of NICE on their Complex Needs and Disability Committee producing guidelines for key-workers and is the first young person on this committee. He is on the NHS England Youth Forum, representing the views of local young people on a national platform and Youth Representative for Health Education England on their Patient Advisory Forum.