A three-year-old has been championed following a charity campaign to help children facing their own health battles.
Chanel Murish, from Seaham, was diagnosed with a rare condition before she was born, meaning she would be born with only half a functioning heart.
Within minutes of her birth, she became the youngest patient in the world to undergo life-saving surgery.
She has since undergone a series of further procedures, with the latest and fourth round of open heart surgery carried out just last month to keep the blood pumping around her body.
In time Chanel will need a transplant to keep her alive.
The youngster, who lives with mum Fay, dad Micheal and brothers Chase, seven, and Cole, five, has now been recognised for her efforts to support the health charities which aim to help other families like her’s.
She was named a medallist at he British Citizen Youth Award (BCyA) ceremony, making her one of 24 children from across the country to be praised for their extraordinary contribution to society, charities and good causes.
Chanel, who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome with intact atrial septum and has also suffered a stroke and has cerebral palsy, was honoured for her efforts at a presentation held at the Palace of Westminster.
She regularly takes part in fundraising events to help bring a smile to the faces of families and children going through difficult times.
She has also spent Christmas time handing out gifts to patients at the Newcastle’s Freeman Heart Unit and has raised money for charities including The British Heart Foundation and The Children’s Heart Fund.
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.Fay Murrish
The medal is her latest accolade, after previously collecting titles including Child of Courage in the Echo’s Best of Wearside awards and becoming a Guinness Book of Record holder for being the youngest ever open heart surgery patient.
Fay 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.”
Fay, 28, has set up a Facebook page - Chanel Murrish HLHS - to chart her story and raise awareness of congenital heart defects, while HGV driver Micheal, 31, ran this year’s Great North Run to raise funds for Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF).
As a family they have raised thousands of pounds to boost the funds.
Chanel received her medal from Ashley Banjo, creative director and lead dancer of Diversity, whose dance troupe won the third series of Britain’s Got Talent.
The awards ceremony is run in association with the optician firm Specsavers.
Eric Thompson, store director of its Seaham branch, said: “As a partner of the BCyA, it is always uplifting to hear about the amazing and selfless acts performed by youngsters both within our community and across the UK.
“Whether it be raising money for charity or helping those in need, we want to grow awareness of these achievements and inspire the next generation of children to make a similar positive impact on society.”