Kingy girl chases dream
KINGSCLIFF resident Niamh Patterson never thought she’d live to volunteer in Cambodia.
In December 2010, she was nearing the end of Year 7 when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
But nearly five years on, the Lindisfarne Year 12 student is still going strong.
Now aged 18, Niamh has been awarded a $2000 Redkite and Coles Dare to Dream scholarship to help her volunteer at Sunrise Children’s Village in Cambodia.
Niamh said she was in an appointment with her doctor for a check-up, when she first heard about the program.
Now, she’s waiting to start university to see when she can fit the trip in.
“I want to study international relations at uni,” she said.
“It’s definitely been something I’ve always been interested in.”
She said using the scholarship to help others less fortunate than herself would mean a lot to her, with a recent family trip to Indonesia, where she had spent time working at an orphanage, underlining her commitment.
“For as long as I can remember that’s always been something that’s important to me,” she said.
However, the teenager she she was a bit nervous to travel on her own as she had never travelled overseas without her family.
“It’s a pretty big deal to go that far away by myself,” she said.
She was reasurred by the fact Sunrise Children’s Village was founded and run by Australian woman, Geraldine Cox.
“If she’s Australian and there are Australians working there it would kind of make it a little bit more like home,” she said.
Considering she didn’t think she’d ever make the trip to Cambodia, Niamh said she was thrilled by the scholarship.
“When I was first diagnosed ... they really thought I wasn’t going to make it,” she said.
“I spent 10 days in a coma on life support. I think it just makes it more special because it’s something I didn’t think I’d be able to do.”
Despite battling short-term memory problems since diagnosis, Niamh is currently sitting her HSC, spurred on by thoughts of Cambodia.