A WOMAN from St. Asaph has battled through her physical and mental illnesses to become the only person from Wales to be nominated for a prestigious ITV award.

Julia Flaherty is up for Good Morning Britain's Prince's Trust Mentor of the Year prize.

The 40-year-old is a volunteer mentor who has been supporting young people in North Wales with their businesses and personal lives for the past five years.

Julia had previously travelled to as many as 30 countries worldwide, teaching English as a second language before she became seriously unwell and had to return home.

Despite her ongoing struggles with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), she says she is still keen to help others.

"For me, I felt my life was completely destroyed by both physical and mental illness and I doubted I would ever have a normal life again," she said.

"A very kind professional occupational therapist worked with me for a long time and thought it would be good if I tried small challenges. Eventually, he encouraged me to try some volunteering.

"It is a condition that fluctuates, so there are some days where I can get out for an hour and meet a young person in the library and I listen and give suggestions or advice. Then it may take me a few days of complete rest to recover."

The young people Julia mentors through The Prince's Trust have nominated her for the Good Morning Britain award and she has now made the final four - an official announcement for which was made by Dame Helen Mirren on the show.

They often stay in touch long after the mentoring relationship finishes and Julia says she finds mentoring and supporting young people reach their goals "incredibly rewarding".

Speaking on reaching the final four, she added: "I was told it was based off what some of the young people had said about me over time. I cried when I heard their comments because they were truly heart felt.

"I agreed to be nominated for one reason, because I wanted to thank all those who have helped me for their constant support and to show them their efforts to help me had enabled me to help others and given me purpose.

"Mentoring has made me start to feel useful instead of worthless. When I got a call telling me I had been selected as one of the four finalists, I felt absolute shock.

"When I read about the other three finalists, who are truly amazing, I was astonished to be alongside them."

"It just goes to show that even if you are disabled, house bound, severely ill, lonely or struggling with your mental health, you are not useless, you are not unworthy and you are not on the scrap heap."

Speaking of her pride for Julia, her sister Samantha said: "Jules has been a volunteer mentor in North Wales for a few years now and we're so proud of her and the help and support she gives to people all year round.

"This is much deserved as she has been significantly struggling with her health and her mentoring means the world to her.

"We hope the whole of North Wales can get behind her as it is wonderful to see a finalist from Wales make it onto a national platform."

For further information on how to vote for Julia, visit: https://www.itv.com/goodmorningbritain/news/the-princes-trust-mentor-of-the-year-award

Alternatively, you can call Vote for Julia on 03301236201. Standard geographic charges may apply. Please check with your operator. Voting closes on Thursday 21st February at midday. T&C’s and Privacy Notice at itv.com.