A YOUNG woman who battled against all the odds to set up her own music business has won a prestigious national award.

Emma Illingworth, 22, from Yeadon, has fought against physical and mental illness for years and lives in constant pain.

But just months after setting up her music tuition service she has become Young Business Owner of the Year at the annual British Business Awards 2019.

Emma, who suffers from Crohn's Disease and has also been treated for Bulimia Nervosa, is sharing her story to show other young people that they can succeed no matter what life throws at them.

She said: "As a sufferer of Crohn’s disease, an incurable and chronic illness, I have always struggled with day-to-day life, but my love for music and support network helped me set up Emma’s Music Tuition, an accessible and affordable, private tuition service that allows anyone to learn music. I became self-employed in April 2019 and I honestly never thought that only five to six months down the line I would be sat in a posh hotel in London after winning an award, meeting incredible people and celebrating achievements of so many inspiring entrepreneurs."

She said: "I want to show that no matter what struggles and obstacles face you, no matter where you are from and no matter what path life takes you down, you can succeed."

She urged other young people to follow their dreams and stressed "Anything is possible."

Writing on her blog Emma described her own battle to overcome obstacles and to succeed.

She said: "At the age of 17, after what was years of torment, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease; an incurable, chronic and severe illness that has a range of hideous side effects.

"I began a course of steroids, which eventually lead to weight gain and a complete personality

transplant. The happy, bubbly and lively Emma, became angry, sad and tired (of everything).

"This was all happening at the start of my AS Level Examinations; I got through them with an A, B and C, but the stress was making my Crohn’s worse and so I left. I allowed myself to feel like a failure and I found great comfort in food. The steroids gave me the most insatiable appetite and it was the only thing that seemed to fill the hole of hurt this illness had created."

She was accepted by Leeds College Of Music onto a Classical Performance Diploma and then a BA course.

But the stress was too much and her mental health plummeted alongside her physical health. She left the college after her first year and began treatment for Bulimia Nervosa in 2018 after "a two year, silent battle."

In April this year she was discharged from The Yorkshire Centre For Eating Disorders and launched her own business to provide music tuition to people aged from three to over 60. Within the space of six months she has taken on more than 40 students, has run multiple workshops and created two youth groups - Top Notes Choir and Amplify Youth Band.

She said: "I am not from the most wealthy background, I never finished my music degree and I have suffered for years with both physical and mental illness. I sought help from The Job Centre and worked so hard to create a community that I could share my love of music with. Not once have I hidden those details because I have always aimed to show that it is ok to seek help and never be ashamed for that."

Emma said she was astounded to be shortlisted for the award, and winning didn't event cross her mind.

She added: "My short life has thrown some pretty horrible things my way. I live in constant pain, suffer from severe fatigue and still have days where my mind hurts me.

But she stressed: "Never allow yourself to give up on your dreams. Push for help, strive for your goals and let your downfalls be the motivation you need to carry on.Thank you, whole-heartedly, to everyone who has made my dreams come true."