HIS momentous and long-standing efforts to shine a light on the youngsters who miss out on making friends because of chronic illness have been recognised by the prime minister.
Theresa May has awarded 16-year-old Lewis Hine with a Point of Light award for his work founding Friend Finder – a website which brings lonely young people together in the hope they forge friendships for life.
The Points of Light award recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others – something that the Havant teenager has done despite battling a long-term illness himself.
In a personal letter to Lewis, in which he received a special certificate, prime minister Mrs May said: ‘You are changing lives through Friend Finder, helping to build a supportive social network for young people living with illness or disability.
‘Your work has inspired millions, and has done much to raise awareness of the loneliness faced by young people battling long-term illness.’
Lewis was diagnosed with a brain tumour at 17 months old and spends much of his time in-and-out of hospital.
He knows all too well how isolating living with a long-term illness feels, and so decided to set up Friend Finder in 2015.
The college hopeful held the Friend Finder Prom in June, which brought youngsters who missed out on their own school proms together.
Speaking about winning the award, Lewis said: ‘Being recognised by the prime minister is my biggest achievement to date.
‘I was so shocked when I found out the news.
‘It means so much to me because all I want to do is help young people like me, and the more recognition Friend Finder gets, the easier it is for me to do that.’
Lewis is the 724th winner of the Points of Light award.
His sister Chloe Hine won the same award last year for her work with charity Beat the Bullies.
Last month Lewis beat big-name companies to win the Mobile Innovation of the Year accolade at The Digital Leaders 100 Awards in London.
Proud of both of her children being chosen to receive the recognition, the siblings’ mum Emma said the award is hard to win.
She said: ‘We’re going to take an evening out as a family to celebrate and the letter and certificate Lewis got will go on the wall.
‘He’s only just come out of Great Ormond Street Hospital, and the news we got wasn’t good.
‘People hear about Lewis getting to do amazing things but the reality is his daily life is a struggle.
‘It’s just great he’s now had a massive boost to keep doing what he does.’