A 16-year-old cancer survivor from Blackburn has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honors List for his services to the community during Covid-19.
Sahil Usman was diagnosed with leukemia at age 13 and while still battling the disease at age 15, he put his own health at risk by caring for vulnerable people in the community during the lockdown and helping them with everyday essentials.
Sahil delivers basket of supplies Credit: Shanaz Usman
When Sahil saw that the shelves in the local supermarkets had been cleared, he made 300 baskets and delivered them to the elderly in Blackburn.
Sahil said he did it because he “knew what it was like to be labeled vulnerable, but knew he had his mother to help him, when a lot of people had none”.
Sahil and some of the hurdles he has put together for vulnerable residents Credit: Shanaz Usman
Long before Covid-19, Sahil was already doing a lot of good work.
When he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018, he decided to raise awareness for the children with cancer by creating a presentation that he held in schools.
He also hosted a radio show on a local radio station to talk about the impact of cancer on children.
This was intended for local ethnic communities to create understanding among those who have no knowledge of hesitation or fear of talking about the disease.
Sahil presents show on local radio about impact of cancer Credit: Shanaz Usman
When Sahil was first diagnosed, he spent eight months in the cancer ward at Manchester Children’s Hospital and has returned every year since with Christmas presents for every child in the ward.
Sahil Delivers Christmas Presents Credit: Shanaz Usman
Sahil spent his own money to buy Christmas gifts, gloves and hats. Each gift bag was worth around £35, and he bought a total of 250, for £2,000.
This year he also took presents to the pediatric ward of the Royal Blackburn Hospital.
Sahil with presents at Manchester Children’s Hospital Credit: Shanaz Usman
A very impressive teenager, Sahil also won the High Sheriff’s Young Citizen Award last year and now adds a BEM to the list.
Sahil and his family say that when they first received the letter confirming he got the BEM, they were “shocked” and “didn’t quite believe it”.
He also told us that the hardest part was keeping it a secret when they got the letter in November.
Due to the pandemic, no date has yet been set when he will officially receive the BEM, which will be at a Royal Garden Party.
Sahil said his biggest problem now will be “deciding what to wear!”
The letter telling Sahil about his BEM credit: ITV Granada