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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 19:00 GMT 20:00 UK
Summit delegate role for Josie Russell
Josie Russell
Josie Russell says her life now is "just normal"
Teenager Josie Russell has given a talk at an environmental conference in London before flying off to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa.

She was chosen as a representative of the Born Free Foundation after becoming involved with the organisation as a fundraiser.


I'm going to prepare a meal for world leaders

Josie Russell, Earth Summit delegate
Josie, now 15 and living in north Wales, was nine years old when she survived a hammer attack by Michael Stone which killed her mother Lin Russell and her sister Megan.

Stone was convicted of murder and attempted murder after a re-trial in October last year.

In an interview with BBC News, Josie spoke of her planned activities during her stay in Johannesburg.

"I'm going to prepare a meal for world leaders. We're going to use local foods - no GM foods," she explained.

She admitted to being a "little nervous", but said she was hoping to meet Tony Blair, whom she described as "nice", for the second time.

Josie said she had become involved with the Born Free Foundation after they gave her some information on their activities.

Josie Russell on horseback in Nantlle, north Wales
Josie has always had a love of animals
"It looked interesting and I wanted to help," she said. "I raised 100 from car boots sales and things.

"I've adopted a leopard called Ricky. He was found outside a pub in a really small cage in bad condition, but they've taken him back to Africa."

When she gets back from Africa, Josie will be starting her GCSE year at Ysgol Uwchradd Dyffryn Nantlle, north Wales, which she said she was looking forward to.

She will be taking exams in textiles, art, design and graphics.

After the long fight back from her injuries, Josie was happy to say that life is the same for her now as any other teenager.

Miraculous recovery

Josie was so badly injured in the attack by Stone, in a country lane in Kent in 1996, that police could not question her about the attack for many months afterwards.

She had received five blows to the head which lacerated her skull and caused damage to her brain.

Police thought she was dead when she was first discovered.

After six weeks in hospital, she returned home and continued treatment with speech therapists.

Her father Shaun Russell moved his daughter away from Kent back to the village of Nantlle where the family had lived for five years.

Josie has adjusted to life in Nantlle very well, learning the language through her Welsh-medium school.

Now this trip to South Africa is giving her a second opportunity to visit the county of her birth, following an earlier visit with her father in 2002.

A film crew recorded the trip, entitled "Josie's Journey", which gave the teenager the chance to get close to some of the animals she cares so passionately about.

See also:

04 Oct 01 | England
27 Aug 02 | Wales
04 Oct 01 | England
01 Nov 00 | Wales
04 Oct 01 | England
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