Teenager wins Diana award for cancer book

Emma Sutherland's book is on library reading lists. '''Picture: Neil Hanna

Emma Sutherland's book is on library reading lists. '''Picture: Neil Hanna

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A TEENAGE author whose debut book helped children across the world cope with their parents’ cancer diagnosis is set to receive a prestigious award established in memory of Princess Diana.

Gifted Emma Sutherland, 14, who penned Eek! My Mummy Has Breast Cancer – a personal tale of coming to terms with mum Rosie’s illness – beat scores of other inspirational youngsters to scoop the honour in the active campaigner category.

The gong – established in 1999, two years after Diana’s death – is presented to inspirational children committed to improving their communities. To date, around 40,000 awards have been handed out.

Struggling to come to terms with her mum’s illness, Emma, from Fairmilehead, scoured the internet for answers but found few websites aimed at supporting children her age.

This inspired the budding author to create her own coping manisfesto that was published last year and is now on the reading lists of all 28 ­Edinburgh libraries.

The book, printed following a family fundraising drive, has flown off the shelves and a second print run has already been ordered.

Emma said: “It’s nearly two years since I wrote the book and really weird to see where they have all ended up.

“There’s people from all over the world that have been looking at the Facebook page so it’s good to know we’re raising awareness.”

The keen One Direction fan, who attends Boroughmuir High School, was in the dark about the landmark honour until organisers approached her to say she had won.

She said: “I didn’t even know I had been nominated so I was a bit confused. It took a few minutes to sink in.

“I’m too young to remember Princess Diana but I’ve heard about her and what she did.

“I was just telling my mum that One ­Direction’s song Diana was inspired by the princess. It’s great to have an award in Diana’s memory.”

Mum Rosie, who works as a childminder and has now been given the all-clear, said her wordsmith daughter had taken the praise in her stride.

She said: “I’m really proud of her and I’m thinking where will it all end.

“Emma’s enjoying it and is certainly going to be a true campaigner in her young adult years.”

The big-hearted Sutherlands are no strangers to helping others and have been fundraising for the special care babies unit at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary for years. Born prematurely at just 3lb 7oz, Emma spent her first three weeks in the unit and decided to repay Simpson’s staff by holding cake bakes and yard sales before donating the proceeds.

Emma was nominated for the Diana Award by charity boss John Macaulay of Fight Against Cancer Edinburgh, who also whisked her off to Lapland last Christmas.

He said: “It’s just great what she’s doing and I thought she deserved the ­recognition for it.

“It is brilliant that she has won a top award which will be signed by the Prime Minister.”

A spokesman for Maggie’s Cancer Care, which provided counselling for Emma, said the award was a “significant measure” of the importance of her book for other children.