Photo: Brian Grech
From silent sufferer to eloquent and beautiful advocate for ME – that's the astonishing story of sixth-former Denise Vella, who lives in Malta.
Denise this month became the face – or rather two faces – for ME Awareness on the Mediterranean island as she linked up with the year-old ME Sufferers Malta support group to take the George Cross island by storm.
For three years, Denise suffered in silence as she did not accept her condition fully. As a result, her contacts with friends and teachers deteriorated as she failed to explain what she was feeling and her friends thought they were being rude if they asked.
This year, in a new school, she took the bull by the horns and, on the very first day there, she explained what her needs were, what she could manage to do and what she couldn't. She was surprised at the positive reaction she received from students and teachers.
She decided to put her new self-awareness to use. With the help of photographer Brian Grech and a local sponsor, she delivered this magnificent poster and a leaflet which are now being circulated in the island's hospitals, clinics and schools.
While planning the campaign, she also meet Mrs Kate Gonzi, wife of Malta's Prime Minister, who lent her full support and took a close interest in the ME Sufferers Malta website.