Thursday, 23 September 2021

Singer goes from sick bed to stardom

A SINGER who was seriously ill with meningitis has been honoured at this year’s Sue Ryder Women of Achievement awards.

A SINGER who was seriously ill with meningitis has been honoured at this year’s Sue Ryder Women of Achievement awards.

Naomi Vallance, 34, won performer of the year at last week’s awards ceremony — just six months after being hospitalised with the viral form of the disease. She has since made a full recovery and is performing again.

Miss Vallance, who works as a personal assistant, said the award had come at “just at the right time”.

“The meningitis really did knock my confidence,” she said. “I carried on performing but never felt inspired. I got really low. I was in so much pain and there was all sorts going on at the time but fortunately everything is fine now.”

She hosted a pop-up dinner for the Chiltern Centre for disabled children in May and performed at the Henley Fringe festival in July and the Last Night of the Proms concert at St Mary’s Church in September.

The singer said she was shocked to win the award. “I wasn’t expecting it at all,” she said. “I thought I had no chance. The trophy is now on my coffee table, greeting me every morning. I’ve also got the big bunch of flowers from the night. It was a really lovely evening and it was great to be part of it. A special thanks goes to Sue Ryder, the Chiltern Centre, who nominated me, and all my friends.”

There were two other winners from the Henley area at the awards, which raised more than £40,000 for the charity’s hospice in Nettlebed.

Louise Rapple, a choir director who works in Shiplake, won creative woman of the year, while the Henley Rowing Club WJ15 quad of Lauren Edwards, Hattie and Maddie Orr, Ellie Thompson and Emma Lister were named young achievers of the year.

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