An incredible youngster has been named as a medallist in this year’s British Citizen Youth Award (BCyA) for her work supporting health charities – despite undergoing four open heart surgeries by the age of three.

Chanel Murrish, 3, from Seaham, County Durham is one of twenty four children from across the UK who have been recognised by the BCyA for their extraordinary contribution to society, charities and good causes.

Now in its second year, the BCyA, in association with Specsavers, seeks to highlight the many acts of bravery, kindness and compassion carried out by young people across the UK.

Brave Chanel

Chanel was diagnosed with a rare medical condition – hypoplastic left heart syndrome with intact atrial septum – while she was still in the womb, meaning she would be born with just half a functioning heart.

Her parents, Fay and Micheal, made the extremely difficult decision to have doctors perform surgery on Chanel minutes after her birth, becoming the youngest patient in the world to undergo the procedure.

Raising awareness of the condition

Despite enduring three further open heart surgeries and also suffering from stroke and cerebral palsy, Chanel is bravely battling on and, with the help of her mum, has set up a Facebook page to chart her story and raise awareness of congenital heart defects.

Chanel regularly takes part in fundraising events to help bring a smile to the faces of families and children going through difficult times. She has spent every Christmas since being born handing out gifts to patients at the Newcastle Freeman Heart Unit and has also raised money for charities including The British Heart Foundation and The Children’s Heart Fund.

Fay Murrish said: ‘We were so pleased for Chanel when we heard she would receive her medal. She’s a little star and, despite everything she’s been through, she keeps on smiling and is trying to help others going through similar experiences.’

A word from the store director

Eric Thompson, store director of Specsavers in Seaham, said: ‘As a partner of the BCyA, it is always uplifting to hear about the amazing acts performed by such young people both locally within our community and further afield across the country.'

All Seaham store information