I don’t normally read the Sports pages of the Portsmouth Evening News, however, a photo of a young girl holding up a number of gold medals for swimming attracted my attention.. The article told of the achievements of 13 year old Nicole Mackenzie, after she had a kidney transplant.

If Nicole and her parents would agree, I wanted to include her in my Tactile Portrait collection.  I wrote to her school, who passed on my letter and soon after I met her and her parents.

I was immediately impressed with Nicole and the  quiet strength of character she seemed to have.   She is tiny, very pretty with long blonde hair. A typical teenager you would pass by in the street.  She works hard, is determined and driven.  The  support and sacrifices made by her parents, are second to none.

Nicole’s list of achievements are impressive.  Gold and Silver in her Transplant games in Bath, four gold medals in Sweden, four gold medals in the UK games in Belfast. Five gold medals in the 2012 games and the Junior Outstanding award. She has also received the Young Sports Woman award for Havant Borough Council.

One evening in 2013 Nicole had been training, attended The News 2013 Sports Award evening and with her hair still wet, received the ‘Contribution to Disabled Sports award, returned home and revised for her GCSEs.

Nicole continued to add to her medal collection with seven gold medals in the World Transplant Games in South Africa and a further five gold medals at the games held in Sheffield. In addition five gold  and two bronze medals at the European Transplant Games in Poland.

Nicole has told me she will be shortly be taking part in the British Transplant Games in Newcastle, no doubt another clutch of medals will be added to her collection.

Nicole is masterful in her sport and her medal count is off the scale. I am so impressed with her. She is determined, unstoppable and a force to be reckoned with.

I am so  pleased that she agreed to be part of the ‘I AM NOT WHO YOU THINK I AM’ tactile portrait collection.