A talented teenager, who captured the spirit of lockdown for people who were shielding, has been shortlisted for a prize in a prestigious, Lancashire writing competition.

Highfield Leadership Academy pupil, Emily White, entered the ‘Lockdown Diaries’ competition to share her own unique experience of living through lockdown with a rare genetic disease.

The inspiring 15-year-old was diagnosed with Fabry Disease, an enzyme deficiency which affects the nervous system and can cause organ damage in 2017. Her condition meant that she was forced into complete isolation whilst she shielded for 12 weeks during lockdown.

Faced with weeks of separation from friends and family the bubbly Year 11 pupil decided to channel her energy into her passion for writing.  She set about writing her story, “The Great Ascendancy”, which was one of only 10 entrants to make it onto the shortlist. The competition, which was launched by FutureU, asked teenagers to write 500 words which captured their experience of lockdown.

Her dazzling tale describes the experience of a firefly that has been captured in a glass jar and is unable to interact with the outside world. The firefly eventually gains its freedom and ascends into the sky. For writer Emily, such freedoms could only be imagined during the heights of lockdown.

She said: “I have always wanted to be a writer – I write all the time. When I saw the competition promoted through school I thought ‘why not?’.

“Living through lockdown and having to shield has been really difficult. I’m a naturally bubbly person, I love getting hugs from my family and friends and not being able to see anyone apart from my parents was hard.

“But the competition gave me a focus. I felt a real sense of freedom and connection with the outside world by sharing my story.

“Coming out of isolation on my birthday was an amazing feeling. I spent the day horse riding. It was incredibly liberating – I have honestly never felt as free.”

Andrew Galbraith, Principal at Highfield Leadership Academy, praised Emily for her achievement which he said served as a reminder about the power of following dreams during times of adversity.

He said: “Emily is a wonderful pupil who has achieved so much during lockdown.

“She is a shining inspiration to us all. Emily has transformed what could have been an extremely negative and isolating experience into a positive and life-enriching achievement.

“This transformation was achieved entirely through her own talent, vision and ability to overcome adversity.

“We are all incredibly proud of her and cannot wait to read more of her wonderful work.”

Emily’s story will be published in a collection of stories written by teenagers across Lancashire. For more information, please visit https://lancashirefutureu.org.uk/2020/07/28/the-lockdown-diaries/.