A young woman has battled back from a debilitating illness to win a music competition which kick-started Ed Sheeran’s career.

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Raevennan Husbandes took the title at this year’s The Next Big Thing competition - two years after the talented singer/songwriter was struck by a very rare illness which saw her temporarily lose her sight, hearing and ability to use her legs.

The condition, known as Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada (VKH) syndrome, very nearly saw her turn her back on her promising music career.

It was in January this year that the Brunel University graduate from Lowestoft first picked up her guitar again and has since gone from strength to strength.

Former East Norfolk Sixth Form College student Miss Husbandes, who lives with her mum Olivier in London Road South, said she was “shocked” to win the competition.

She said: “I didn’t go in it to win it, just to help get my confidence back and to reassure myself I wanted to do music again. Things were so touch and go at one stage and I was worried I would have to start from scratch. “The competition has given me confidence that people like what I do and they like it enough to think I’m worthy of this prize.”

It was October 2010 when Miss Husbandes was diagnosed with the auto-immune disorder, of which there has been less than 30 reported cases since 1930. She was in London at the time and was due to support musician Tom Baxter that November.

It had followed what had been a “great year” which had seen her graduate from Brunel with a first class degree in music and performance, perform at Glastonbury and some other big gigs.

Following a course of treatment, she has since regained her sight and hearing and can walk again. She has since worked with The Unthanks and Lisa Hannigan and recently opened shows for Krystle Warren. She will be supporting Martin Rossiter at the Open in Norwich on November 21.

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