Faith Dickinson has spent much of her young life spreading literal warmth, ever since she first made a blanket for her aunt to ward off the chills that accompanied treatment for Stage 4 breast cancer.
That was five years ago. And, since then, the 14-year-old from Peterborough, Ont., has sent 3,500 fleece blankets around the world through her non-profit organization, Cuddles for Cancer.
While it's typically Faith's blankets that travel, this week, it was the teen herself.
Off to London
Her work propelled her to St. James's Palace in London where she was awarded the inaugural Diana Award Wednesday. The award, created in honour of the late Princess of Wales, went to 20 youth who "through kindness, compassion and service" have changed their communities.
"One of my mottoes is 'You're never too young to make a difference,'" Faith said in an interview from London. "And I think that this really proves it."
She's beaming as she recounts the day.
"Prince William told me that I was just doing such an amazing thing," she said. "And Prince Harry told me that I was the most impressive redhead there tonight."
Faith now makes the cuddly fleece blankets not only for cancer patients, but for soldiers who are experiencing symptoms of PTSD.
Her goal, she says, is to make people feel toasty inside and out — sending warm thoughts with each package.
'Her heart is amazing'
It was her compassion that caught the eye of Tessy Ojo, the chief executive of the Diana Award.
"Her heart is amazing," Ojo said. "It's one thing to have a vision, but it's quite another to share that vision with others and to get your friends to come along."
And her friends were certainly paying attention to the celebration — and to the company Faith was keeping.
"She's in London to meet Prince Harry and Prince William," said Grace Tibbles. "It's crazy, but she definitely deserves it."
The pair have been good friends since they were three. And Grace helped her friend deliver her blankets when she first began Cuddles for Cancer.
"And I would be sitting at the sidelines going, 'Wow, look at this girl go.'"
Wise beyond her years
Faith is an old soul, her teacher says, something that frames her perspective of the world.
"She's got a genuine enthusiasm for pretty much anything she approaches," Carolyn Scott said. "She has a kind of maturity and initiative really beyond her years. She's the type of student who's always asking, 'What more can I do.'"
That might be a tough question, considering all Faith has accomplished.
But she's ready with an answer.
"Well I really hope to start a Cuddles for Cancer in the U.K.," she said after the ceremony. "So maybe thanks to this, we can get some connections and start one."
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