Award winning Brentwood twins still a great help

THE MOTHER of teenage twins from Great Warley, who have been her “rocks” since her daughter was tragically paralysed in a car accident just over four years ago, has praised an award which recognises the achievements of young people.

After Chrissie Johnson, then 16, was left with severe brain damage and almost totally paralysed after a car accident, her mother Gina Smith was called to her daughter’s side at the rehabilitation centre.

Chrissie’s brothers Richard and James, just 15 at the time, gave up their normal teenage lives to run the family home and look after their younger sister and brother.

Miss Smith said she wouldn’t have been able to cope without the help of her twins, help which they are still giving now.

She said: “They’re two fantastic lads. Richard does shifts as her carer, James has just started uni and does a lot with the younger children. They pick the children up from school, cook, clean and do everything. They are my rocks.”


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Tragic Chrissie, now 20, is able to move her arms, but will never fully recover and needs round-the-clock care. The family were awarded compensation last year, but Miss Smith said it has made little difference to their life.

The twins, 19, still help to look after their younger siblings, Alexander, 12, and Melody, six, while Richard looks for work as a chef and James studies business and accounting at university.

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Miss Smith said: “A lot of children in their situation would’ve gone off the rails but I’m very fortunate.”

The pair were the first ever winners of the Essex Young People of the Year Award, after their mother nominated them, in 2007.

“I thought they deserved some sort of recognition. A lot of teenagers get bad publicity but there are some brilliant children out there who aren’t having a normal childhood and they do need that recognition,” she said.

The Essex Police Young People of the Year award (YOPEY), which is supported by Runwood Homes, is currently looking for nominations for inspirational young people aged 10-25 for the 2011 award.

Visit www.yopey.org to put forward a young person of the year.

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