I'm just so proud of my brave girl Gaelle

SHE spends her life wrapped in bandages and has to avoid everything from cats and nuts to egg whites and swimming pools.

But despite suffering from a severe form of eczema, brave Gaelle Speight is a happy, cheerful five-year-old with a bright outlook on life.

The youngster has coped with her skin condition with such maturity and positivity that she has been voted Young Person of the Year in the National Eczema Society Awards 2010.

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Despite being so young, Gaelle, a primary one pupil, has used her experiences of atopic dermatitis to educate her classmates and teachers, who have to help her apply her skin cream and bandages every day at school.

She even used her birthday party to fundraise for the cause.

Gaelle's mother Magali Speight, from Linlithgow, said she is "very proud" of her daughter and is delighted she has won the award, which she was nominated for by her friend's grandmother.

Ms Speight, 31, said: "Gaelle has been suffering from severe eczema since birth along with various allergies.

"This means she receives extensive daily treatment including applying creams throughout the day, even at school, and wearing full-body bandages 24/7.

"When she has skin infections it's extremely painful and she has these a few times a year.

"It's always with her and there are good and bad times.

"She might grow out of it in two months' time, she might never grow out of it.

"She is very open about it and that's what helps her.

"She is keen to explain it to other people and on educating other kids."

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Atopic dermatitis is linked to allergies, which means Gaelle has to stay away from cats and also has to avoid certain types of foods which can cause her skin to flare up.

Although she takes part in PE at school with her classmates, the Linlithgow Primary pupil has to avoid swimming as the chemicals and extreme temperatures would irritate her skin.

Gaelle and her mother will be travelling down to London to collect the award at a ceremony on Saturday. Charity project worker Ms Speight added: "She is extremely excited and is counting the sleeps until London. I'm very proud of this achievement for my little girl.

"Children with eczema can usually have low self-esteem because of their appearance so it's a great confidence boost."

The National Eczema Society describes its awards as recognising people who "make a genuine difference to the lives of those with eczema either through the help they provide on a daily basis or by acting as a role model for others".

The Society says the awards provide an opportunity to thank these "unsung heroes" and "highlight the patience, determination and bravery that this incurable condition requires".