The photo that haunts Emmerdale star Gemma Oaten’s brother as he speaks out on ‘devastating mental illness

The brother of Emmerdale actress Gemma Oaten said he is “haunted” to think how many times he nearly lost her when she was in the grip of her anorexia.

The actress’ brother Chris Charles shared a picture f the two of them taken just days before Gemma suffered a heart attack.

Chris said: “I have seen my sister, Gemma, go through many tough battles, visited her in referral units and hospitals not knowing if she would pull through and know that I would not wish this illness on any person or family.”

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Chris is running the Virgin London Marathon in aid of the charity SEED Eating Disorder Support Services, which was set up by their mother, Marg Oaten, and is now championed by Gemma, who has come close to losing her life to the illness.

In launching his public appeal to fundraise for SEED, Chris shared a photograph of himself with his sister, he said: “The top photo on the cover of this campaign was taken days before my sister suffered a heart attack in her late teens.

“It still haunts me to think I nearly lost her too many times, but it shows the severity of this devastating mental health illness.”

SEED was set up 21 years ago in order to provide sufferers and carers with confidential and independent advice and support with eating disorders.

It has continued to grow and now offers many services such as workshop events, nutritional guidance, email and text support and advice for carers.

More recently SEED launched tool kits in schools to help with early intervention, something which Chris said is “vitally important with this illness”.

He added: “I, for one, have seen the devastating impact this illness has on not only sufferers but families and friends as the recovery can be a long drawn out process.



Gemma Oaten is now happy and healthy
Gemma Oaten is now happy and healthy

“I speak from the heart when I say that if by running the marathon I can help one person, one family, one friend not have to watch their loved ones go through this, then it will be truly worthwhile.”

He also shared a second image from two years ago when the family attended a SEED gala, which showed a healthy and glowing Gemma.

He said: “The photo is mum, dad, Gemma and I at their SEED gala two years ago. Recovery is possible, this is why my family does what it does. To make sure no other family goes through this heart ache. Early intervention is key.”

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He added: “This is just a snap shot of my reasons for helping the charity raise vital funds to help continue this service. If you can support and donate, then I and many others will be very grateful. As my sister always says, “it matters, you matter”.

Emotional sister Gemma tweeted her pride for her brother, saying: “So proud of my big brother running the London marathon for us at @SeedSupportUK. His words on this campaign made me bawl my eyes out.”

Chris is aiming to raise £10,000 for the charity, to donate to his Go Fund me page click here.