Burnley schoolgirl Emily Speirs is used to the cameras – but is a shy TV star.
Emily (15) was born with spina bifida and has been monitored from birth by Channel Four’s ‘Born to be Different’ programme.
Emily is one of six children featured who were born with a disability and, every few years, the TV crew descend on her Burnley home and interview her and her family about her life and coping with her illness.
Series nine is due to be out next year and filming has just finished for the series.
“I have just grown up with the TV cameras coming to my house so I don’t really think about it,” said sociable Emily, who is a star pupil at Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic College, helped by Marie Allen at the school.
“They film every two years and it is all about what’s happened in the last few years, it raises awareness of each of our disabilities and how we cope and hopefully helps other families if they are in a similar situation.
I think if things like the programme and the charity help others to cope, then it’s good and it is worth doing even though I don’t like going in front of the cameras!Emily Speirs
“I don’t know how we ever got chosen, I think it was just random,” said Emily, who lives with mum Rachael, dad Richard and younger brother Jacob.
“It is hard at times having spina bifida but it is all I have known. I have had to have a number of operations and a few years ago I had to have a major bowel and bladder operation and had to retrain my bladder and bowel which obviously wasn’t nice.
“I have had to talk about it on the various programmes and I don’t really like doing it. My friends think it’s great though as they get interviewed and they like to be on the television!
“I am friends with the other five who are on the programme and we meet up for the after-show event. They have a variety of disabilities from dwarfism, Down Syndrome to epilepsy and autism and we have all become friends through the programme.”
Emily wants to study Health and Social Care at college and also enjoys swimming. Her mum Rachael is on the committee of a charity ‘Diversions’, set up by two of Rachael’s friends.
“It was set up in 2009, just after my bowel surgery, and it is to help families with similar issues,” said Emily, who is also involved with Diversions.
“We try and raise funds for days out such as circus training or canoeing and it is to raise awareness.
“I think if things like the programme and the charity help others to cope, then it’s good and it is worth doing even though I don’t like going in front of the cameras!”