A south Cumbria teenager with a heart of gold has been raising money and awareness for a charity that is close to her heart, as she dreams of travelling the world to help those in need.

Windermere School pupil Isadora Rawlinson, 14, from Grasmere, has raised £753 for the charity Operation Smile and hopes to raise awareness for children all over the world who are born with a cleft lip or cleft palate.

Isadora, who goes by the name Fizzy, said: "I really wanted to raise money for a charity that I felt passionate about and two of my cousins were born with cleft palates so I chose Operation Smile, a charity which tries to deliver exceptional surgical care to every child born with the condition.

"My aunt holds a candlelight service in London every year to raise money for the charity and I have attended a few times, which has inspired me to try and hold events of my own to raise money for charity."

Fizzy has already organised fundraisers in the past couple of years for Syrian child refugees, MSF (Doctors Without Borders) and for the victims of the ebola epidemic. She hopes one day to work as a volunteer.

She said: "I still have four years left at school but when I finish I hope to take a gap year and work for Operation Smile as a volunteer travelling to places like Rwanda and Brazil.

"Both of my cousins had access to amazing medical care and here in the UK, where children born with the condition are given the best treatment. However in countries like Brazil if a child is born with a cleft palate, people think they have a deformity and they can be cast out of society.

"Operation Smile tries to give as many of these children born in Third World countries the treatment they need so that they can live a normal life."

To raise the money, Fizzy got all of her friends and teachers involved at Windermere School and set up stalls with everything from paper planes to fairy cakes to henna tattooing on offer. Fizzy said: "I was so grateful to the school for supporting me and making sure everything went to plan.

The whole process began with a reflection led by Fizzy in school assembly

She said: "It all started when I arranged a hair-down and no-tie day at school and everyone just paid a pound for that which went towards Operation Smile. Then I started to think bigger with the fundraising day that had all the different stalls. I made all the brownies and fairy cakes myself but plenty of my friends came forward with ideas and there was a huge selection of activities on the day itself."

A cleft lip and palate is the most common facial birth defect in the UK, affecting around one in every 700 babies. In some rare cases it can be inherited through genes or caused by smoking or obesity during pregnancy, although the most common reason is due to a lack of folic acid during pregnancy.

Fizzy said: "The chance of being born with a cleft palate is increased if the mother suffers from malnutrition which is why so many suffer in Third World countries."

Fizzy hopes to hold more charity fundraisers in school and travel to the Tiger Kloof School near Vryberg, South Africa when she reaches sixth form. She hope to volunteer there with her fellow pupils at Windermere School's service programme.



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1. A cleft is a gap or split in the upper lip and/or roof of the mouth. It is present from birth.

2. The gap is there because parts of the baby's face didn't join together properly during development in the womb.

3. A cleft lip may just affect one side of the lip or there may be two clefts.

4. Surgery to correct a cleft lip is usually carried out at 3-6 months and an operation to repair a cleft palate is usually performed at 6-12 months.

5. Surgery to repair the cleft may leave a small pink scar above the lips. This will fade over time and become less noticeable as your child gets older.