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Grantham teenager talks about his battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A teenager is taking to the road to tell others about his battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) thanks to support from his local community.

South Kesteven District Councillors Jacky Smith and Ray Wootten have joined forces with Grantham Lions Club and Priory Ruskin Academy to help fund a professional public speaking course for Joe Hill.

The 17-year-old from Grantham took part in Taz Thornton’s The Heart of Speaking two-day speaker training retreat and now works with people to improve their health and fitness levels.

Coun Smith, who is SKDC’s cabinet member for health, wellbeing and communities, said: “It’s always good to hear about someone who is thriving following a setback and I am sure Joe will go on to help many other people through their own difficult times.”

Coun Wootten said: “Joe has really embraced this challenge and is making great strides. He has already been asked to speak at his school’s Year 11 assembly about exam stress and is fulfilling bookings at other venues too.”

The councillors contributed £165 each, while Grantham Lions gave £100 to add to the school’s own contribution.

Godfrey Mackinder, a member of Grantham Lions, said: “We help youngsters as much as we can. When we heard about Joe we thought it would be a good project for him and something that would benefit others, too.”

Joe, who was diagnosed with the unexplained form of extreme tiredness, aged 14, said: “The course was absolutely incredible. It helped give me knowledge about the best way to talk and structure the stories that I will be taking into schools and other workplaces to help others improve their mental and physical health.

Joe Hill in action on stage (5365818)
Joe Hill in action on stage (5365818)

“Being diagnosed with CFS was probably the biggest challenge and lesson I have ever had, but it has also been the best lesson and I have really learned about myself, who I am and what I really care about.

“It was completely horrible at the time as I felt my life was over. However, being on the other side now I feel amazing and so proud. I am looking forward to my life just starting.”

Heart of Speaking course leader Taz Thornton said: “Joe took to the stage like a natural and I have no doubt this awesome young man will be wowing audiences up and down the country with his messages.”

Mum Haley added: “He has gained so much from this. His confidence and belief in the power of his story has exceeded his expectations. He was warmly received by all members, who were impressed at his maturity for his age.”

Joe Hill with Taz Thornton (5365866)
Joe Hill with Taz Thornton (5365866)

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