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09 April 2021

Lydia Barker named Honorary 41st runner in tomorrow’s Randox Grand National

Inspirational Liverpool teenager Lydia Barker has been named as the honorary 41st runner in tomorrow’s Randox Grand National.

The 19 year-old has struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for years, but since finding the strength to seek help she has succeeded in turning her life around to such an extent that she is studying to be a paediatric nurse. Lydia is now on placement at Alder Hey Hospital, where the CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) team she was referred to has done so much to help her. 

The Jockey Club first created the honorary 41st runner berth in 2017 for five-year-old Neuroblastoma campaigner Bradley Lowery, who sadly died in July 2017. The Jockey Club has continued to work with closely with the Bradley Lowery Foundation since Bradley’s death.

Lydia is now looking forward to a career helping other young people with mental health issues and said: “My message to all young people who are struggling is to reach out – reach out to a friend, a teacher, a parent, or a carer, and just talk. It’s not easy, but if you make that first step there’s help out there and you won’t always have to feel like this.”

Lydia’s diagnosis with OCD, anxiety and depression marked the start of a long recovery from behavioural problems, which made her feel very isolated, anxious and fearful and her story offers hope to all.

She added: “Just before my 16th birthday I’d been struggling for a little while and I was worried about telling my family. I was quite lost and confused but I eventually told them and went to my GP, who referred me to Alder Hey.

“I was seen by a psychiatrist and a psychologist and quickly started taking medication and having different therapies. It was a slow process and hard work, and it was very upsetting and frustrating at times. But it led me to being able to move on with my life and to now hopefully be able to help other young people.

“I’m now in my first year at university training to be a paediatric nurse, and my hope is to go on and work at Alder Hey for the rest of my career as a nurse. I’ve started my placement there and I’ve decided I now want to help the lives of other younger people.”

Seventy per cent of young people who experience a mental health condition have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. Alder Hey Children’s Charity’s ‘7 in 10 Children’s Mental Health Appeal’ is aiming to raise vital funds to enhance inpatient and Community mental health services at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, enabling more children to access the treatment they need at the right time.

“Telling my parents was the hardest thing of all,” said Lydia. “Admitting that I was unwell and couldn’t help myself was scary, but the staff at Alder Hey have supported me in my darkest times and I’m extremely grateful to them.

“I have learnt to live and accept that my illness will always be with me, but I have been able to find ways to cope and can now look forward to the future.”

In 2018, the 41st place was given to three year old Edie Molyneux, who suffered from a rare brain tumour called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). “Spider-Ede” as she was affectionately known due to her love of Spiderman, sadly passed away in October that year.

Alder Hey Children’s Charity took the honorary berth in 2019.

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