Lord Sugar puts fundraiser Rhea, 11, in the picture with Pride of Britain award


Lord Sugar surprised a young girl who has painted hundreds of pictures to raise thousands for charity with the news she had won a Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Award.

Rhea Kara had been told she was going to be meeting an art dealer, but was instead greeted by the billionaire businessman who handed her an official invite to this year's ceremony.

The 11-year-old will be honoured as the Good Morning Britain Young Fundraiser after she raised £13,500 for research into Rett Syndrome, a debilitating condition that mainly affects young girls.

"I am really happy that I won the award, and I was really surprised that Lord Sugar told me I was winning the award," the aspiring fashion designer told the Press Association.

Lord Sugar, in an Apprentice-style challenge, also asked Rhea to paint a picture which will be auctioned on the night.

Rhea has since designed two canvasses, one of British beach huts and another of the Union Flag and Queen's head, and said she is hoping to "raise as much as possible".

It was not until an assembly at her school in 2014 that she first came across Rett Syndrome - which leaves sufferers unable to speak, walk or use their hands.

Moved by what she had heard, the schoolgirl from south London resolved to paint a picture a day for 100 days, and sell them to raise money for the charity.

Her first paintings were sold on a stall at Abbeville Fete in Clapham and in the first year she actually painted 171 pictures and sold 166, raising almost £4,000.

Over the following two years she repeated her charity challenge.

Rhea has also become an ambassador for Reverse Rett, which is run by the families of those affected, and at the charity's gala dinner last November one of her paintings fetched £1,200.

"It is really relaxing and therapeutic," she said of her painting. "I just have fun with it and do one a day or when I am really busy I make up for it at the weekend."

As well as her fundraising, Rhea has forged a bond with a young Rett sufferer, Hannah Johnsson who is nine.

The pair have met at fetes and events but the young artist longs for the day when Hannah is well enough to spend more time with her.

"I was really upset when I found out about it because it affects young girls and they didn't do anything to deserve it. If you smoke then you know you could get cancer.

"But Hannah didn't do anything to get Rett - which is really unfair.

"I am hoping that they will find a cure and I will keep on fundraising until they do."

Beth Johnsson nominated Rhea for the award and said she has a "really lovely bond" with her daughter Hannah - she described the young artist as "determined, resilient and humble".

"She deserves the award, she makes me proud just to know her. She is so inspiring and she is a great role model, not just for children but for everyone," Mrs Johnsson said.

Her mother Roshan 46 said Rhea winning the award is a "big deal" and that she is "terribly proud" of her daughter.

Mrs Kara said the family which also includes father Moez 56, and brother Ryan, 14, have embraced her mission to fundraise until there is a cure.

"We as a family have now become quite committed to the cause because we are going to be doing it until Hannah is walking and talking," Mrs Kara said.

"Hopefully through this award people will hear about Reverse Rett and there will be more awareness."

:: The Pride of Britain Awards ITV will be screened at 8pm on Tuesday.