Blackburn schoolboy with cancer who delivered hampers in lockdown on New Year Honours List

A 16-year-old cancer survivor from Blackburn has been given the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours List for his services to the community during Covid-19.

Sahil Usman was diagnosed with Leukaemia at the age of 13, and while still battling the disease at 15, he put his own health in jeopardy to look after vulnerable people in the community during lockdown to help them with daily essential items.

Sahil delivering hamper of essentials Credit: Shanaz Usman

When Sahil saw shelves had been emptied in local supermarkets he made 300 hampers and delivered them to elderly people across Blackburn.

Sahil said he did it because he "knew what it was like to be classed as vulnerable, but knew he had his mum to help him, while many people had no-one".

Sahil and some of the hampers he put together for vulnerable residents Credit: Shanaz Usman

Long before Covid-19 Sahil was already doing lots of good work.

When he was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2018, he decided to raise awareness for the children with cancer by creating a presentation which he delivered in schools.

He also presented a radio show on a local radio station to talk about the impacts of cancer on children.

This was aimed at local ethnic communities to encourage understanding amongst those who lack knowledge of may be hesitant or afraid to talk about the disease.

Sahil presenting show on local radio about impact of cancer Credit: Shanaz Usman

When Sahil was initially diagnosed, he spent eight months on the cancer ward at Manchester Children's hospital and has since been back each year with Christmas presents for each child on the ward.

Sahil delivering 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 250 in total, costing £2,000.

This year he also took gifts to the children's ward at 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 is now adding a BEM to the list.

"Sahil and his family say when they first got the letter to confirm he was being given the BEM, they were "shocked" and "didn't quite believe it".

He also told us the hardest part was keeping it a secret as they got the letter in November.

Due to the pandemic, no date has been set yet for him to 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 of his BEM Credit: ITV Granada