AN INSPIRATIONAL eight-year- old has been honoured for selfless efforts to help her younger brother cope with his disease.

Amy Packer, of Upton Lane in Upton, was presented with The Young Person of the Year glass plaque at the 2008 Coeliac UK Awards during the charity’s annual conference at Glaziers Hall in London.

Amy, who suffers from the auto- immune disease coeliac herself, has provided help to her four-year- old brother Zak.

Coeliac affects one in 100 people in the UK and is caused by intolerance to gluten, which causes an inflammation in the intestines.

Left untreated, the disease can lead to osteoporosis, infertility or bowel cancer. The only treatment is sticking to a strict life-long gluten-free diet.

But after coming to terms with her own fate, Amy was on hand to explain the disease to Zak, a fellow Upton Heath Primary pupil, when he was diagnosed.

She was nominated by her mother Karen Packer through Coeliac UK’s magazine.

Karen explained: “Amy was diagnosed with coeliac disease when she was five, following 12 months of ill health.

“As a result, her brother Zak was also checked and diagnosed with coeliac disease when he was three. Amy has been instrumental in helping me to help him accept that he could no longer enjoy ‘normal’ bread, cakes and biscuits.

“Because she was so poorly, she wouldn’t eat anything until I’d checked it in case it was going to make her ill again. Zak didn’t display any symptoms at all so he was more difficult.”

Obvious sources of gluten which coeliac sufferers must be wary of include bread, pasta, flour, cereals, cakes and biscuits and it is often used as an ingredient in many foods such as fish fingers, sausages, gravies, sauces and soy sauce.

Symptoms can include bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, diarrhoea, wind, tiredness, anaemia, headaches, mouth ulcers, weight loss, skin problems, depression, joint or bone pain and nerve problems.

For information about coeliac disease, visit or call the helpline on 0870 444 8804.