AN inspirational Hartismere High School sixth former, who has battled a debilitating health condition throughout her important exams, hopes to take part in a once in a lifetime opportunity doing charitable research work in Africa this summer.
Emma Manning, 16, of Stoke Ash, plans to travel with other sixth-formers from the school to the Kruger National Park in South Africa, and then to a marine research facility in Mozambique to contribute to long-term scientific research programmes as part of a scheme called Operation Wallacea.
Her participation in the trip is all the more remarkable because of her long-running battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The condition, which started from around the age of nine or ten, often leaves her feeling exhausted and in pain, and meant that during her GCSEs, she only managed a 22 per cent attendance record at school. Despite this, Emma passed six GCSEs, gaining an A in Physics.
She is now studying A Levels in chemistry, maths and biology, and hopes to go to veterinary college, following in the footsteps of her mum, who works as a vet.
Emma said: “Studying can be a bit of a struggle - it’s not a walk in the park. But, I’ve never thought of it as difficult - the syndrome is a bit of a pain, but it’s good to have something to occupy your mind.
She added: “Since I was little, I wanted to be a vet, and that has not changed.”
Her mother, Sue Manning, said: “Considering how poorly Emma has been, she has done extremely well.
“She’s very plucky and has really made her own recovery. The school has been supportive of her, although it is very difficult when you don’t have a diagnosis.”
That is because Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is difficult to diagnose - no primary cause has been found to explain all cases, and the symptoms come and go.
The turnaround in Emma’s health came when her parents paid for neuro-linguistic programming - a treatment which helps patients process negative thought-processes and overcome stress.
Emma must raise £2,500 for South Africa, and is being aided in her fundraising activities by Stoke Ash’s All Saints Church.
It has helped organise a Craft Fair and Fun Dog Show on May 7 on the Manning’s field near their house.