A 25-year-old teacher who survived a rare heart condition has dedicated her spare time to helping sick children live their dreams.

Zahra Tadayon, from Kenley, has been nominated as charity volunteer of the year for her work with the Make a Wish Foundation.

The primary school teacher was born with two holes in her heart and one of its four chambers missing.

She has had to undergo a number of life-saving operations, most recently when she was 17.

In 2004 with the prospect of a serious operation looming where she had to have heart tissue cut away, her mother Christina contacted Make a Wish to try to take her daughter’s mind off her condition.

The charity whisked her off in a chauffeur-driven car to have a day of luxury in London where she had a makeover before being treated to a night at the theatre and a fancy dinner.

She was so uplifted by her experience she decided to dedicate her time to helping others make a wish.

She has been volunteering at the charity with her mother for the past seven years, meeting families and helping seriously ill children make a wish.

She said: “I volunteer with my mum, she can relate to the parents and I can relate to what the children are going through. It really puts life in perspective and the most thrilling thing is seeing the excitement in their faces when they realise they are getting a wish.

“For many its a day where they don’t have to think about the next hospital appointment, or being on a drip. It is very fulfilling.”

She is helping the charity celebrate its 25th anniversary this year, where 25 gifts will be given to sick children in a pass the parcel event across the country in June.

The foundation grants magical wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening illnesses.

It was established in 1986 and has granted more than 6,500 wishes over 25 years.

For more information go to www.make-a-wish.org.uk/