Teapot Trust nominated Angus resident William Cuthill for the renowned GSK WellChild Awards 2021, as they have been amazed by the dedication 13-year-old William has had to the charity, when he’s juggled schoolwork, his health-condition and time in hospital for medication and appointments.  

William, was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) aged 5.  He is one of many children who might look fine on the outside, but internally their body is having a struggle to function normally without constant medication. This condition causes painful joints, like rheumatoid arthritis in adults with low mobility. William has in the past seen many consultants and medical professionals and despite the number of times he was in pain and to and from hospital, he always remained positive; looking for ways to promote the art therapy which he benefited from, offered by Teapot Trust.

Founder of the charity, which supplies art therapy to children with long-term health conditions Dr Laura N Young MBE, said, “The efforts and lengths to which William has gone for us are exceptional for any young person and would be worthy of honouring. However, he has done this work whilst struggling with his own health condition even on days when he was experiencing joint pain.

William soldiers on, thinking of everyone else but himself. He is a very special boy who would be astounded to properly understand how much his help has been appreciated. He is one of those few people who gives without question. The knowledge of the appreciation of his efforts will no doubt spur him on, but will, we hope, also make others aware not only of what he endures but also what he contributes despite this.”

William said:

 “I feel very privileged and honoured to be recognised for my work and to be in a position to raise the profile of invisible diseases and Teapot Trust.  There are many invisible diseases in our society, like cancer and people with stomas for example. I feel all children who experience chronic illnesses should have access to Art Therapy; it made an enormous difference to my life and hospital visits, especially when I was younger.  If I can help other children to access this vital service to help their confidence then I will be satisfied.  I haven’t had a joint aspiration or injection for over two years now but I am under no illusion that joint flare-ups can return at any time.  During these two years, I feel I have been in a much better place to help others and I want to continue my work so that I can help other children to experience and benefit from Art Therapy the way I did."

So far, William has raised more than £5,000 for the charity, which considering the dire consequences of Covid-19 on the charity sector, has been quite amazing. The charity would like to thank members of the community who have sponsored William, purchased his artwork and attended his concerts and ceilidhs.

Over the last three years, Teapot Trust had the privilege of William appearing at events; he has added lovely atmosphere by piping guests in; then, impressing potential donors by speaking, talking about how he used his art therapy time and the value it has been to him.  Most children of his age would shun such an environment and the mere idea of ‘public speaking’. Unbeknown to William it is an immeasurable task to get people on side and aid their understanding of what it is like for a child to live with a health condition.  Teapot Trust commended him for being able to do this and for his honesty at how his life is impacted; not many people can do this, let alone a young person. His ability to connect and empathise with other children with chronic conditions is remarkable.

As a Junior Ambassador he has also attended time-consuming Board Meetings, not simply as an observer for 10 minutes, but sitting through the whole session and contributing valuable points from a service user’s point of view.  His mother has taken time to help him read and understand papers which would normally be well outside the norm for a child of his age.

William also gifted his school Science Project to Teapot Trust. William’s work cleverly refers to ‘a child’ with JIA, rather than to himself, to protect himself amongst his peers.  The life-sized model knee he created in his workshop at home, showcases a Baker Cyst alongside his inspiring text, ‘raising the profile of an invisible disease’ and the challenges children are faced with on this journey.  William has talked about this model which has given the Teapot Trust staff and a wider audience beyond this, a much greater understanding of what can go wrong in a joint.  He has also bravely revealed how isolating it can feel to suffer in silence.

William was picked from hundreds of nominations from across the UK to win the category of Inspirational Young Person in the Well Child Awards which celebrate the resilience of children living with serious illnesses or complex conditions.