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Brave Mark hopes TV show appearance will inspire others

A BRAVE Omagh boy who has ME hopes his upcoming appearance on Children in Need will help inspire young people to ‘live life to the fullest’.

Even though Mark McAnulla is only 13-years-old, he has courageously battled the side-effects of his ‘myalgic encephalomyelitis’ for the past two years, and he is determined not to let the illness stop him from being a fighter!

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He and his mum Aine will soon be a part of this year’s ‘Countryfile Ramble’ for BBC Children in Need – and needless to say, Mark can’t wait to explore what’s known as the most dramatic mountain pass in the Mournes.

The pair will be joining Anita Rani and a group of Countryfile viewers as they ramble through the beautiful Hare’s Gap on October 6.

Mark’s journey with ME began in 2016 when he was diagnosed with the long-term illness after suffering a headache following a swimming competition.

At the time, he lost the ability to walk and talk and he was in hospital for weeks before he could speak again.

He was later discharged from hospital in a wheelchair – but being a keen athlete and swimmer, Mark had his mind set on walking again – unaided.

Eventually he reached that stage in recovery, but he still had an uphill psychological journey to face, with one of the difficult side-effects of ME being that he struggled to sleep.

As such, Mark was introduced to the Koram Centre for Counselling, Psychotherapy and Psychosocial Support in Strabane and happily through the centre’s Art Therapy programme, Mark’s mental health and sleep has greatly improved.

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The Koram Centre currently receives a grant of £35,261 from BBC Children in Need, over three years, to fund an Art Therapist, who provides counselling and creative therapy to children and young people who are experiencing behavioural or emotional difficulties.

Staying positive as always, Mark said that he was ‘really looking forward to taking part in the Countryfile Ramble’.

“It’ll be a challenge for me but I’m really determined to complete it,” he described. “I hope that my story will inspire other young people in the same situation to live life to the fullest!”

In County Tyrone, BBC Children in Need currently funds 14 projects to a value of £612,860.

• To enjoy the adventures of Mark and his mother, Aine in the Mournes, tune in to Countryfile Ramble for BBC Children in Need on Sunday, October 28 on BBC One.
To host a ramble and support disadvantaged young people by raising money for charity, visit www.bbc.c.uk/Pudsey

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