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Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall celebrates her Yemeni heritage with UNICEF

Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall says she lost ‘a lot of my identity’ after her grandfather passed away when she was a teenager as she celebrates her Yemeni heritage with UNICEF

Jade Thirlwall has revealed she felt like she lost of her ‘identity’ when her grandfather passed away when she was 13. 

The Little Mix’s singer’s granddad Mohammed was from Aden in Yemen, before he moved to South Shields in 1943, and met Jade’s grandmother Amelia, who was from Egypt.

And Jade, 28, shared more about her Yemeni heritage and learnt about the ongoing conflict in Yemen with UNICEF as she took part in a Zoom call with Somaya, 17, from Sana’a. 

Heritage: Jade Thirlwall has revealed she felt like she lost of her ‘identity’ when her grandfather passed away when she was 13

Speaking about how the singer looks up to her late grandfather as a role model, the Wings hitmaker said: ‘I have really fond memories growing up of my Grandad going to the mosque, cooking me Yemeni food and telling me all these stories about living in Yemen.

‘As I’ve got older I feel like once my Grandfather passed away when I was 13 I sort of lost a lot of Yemen identity. 

‘He was the main person in my life who would really champion my Yemeni heritage and encourage me to acknowledge it all the time.’ 

Family: The Little Mix's singer's granddad Mohammed was from Aden in Yemen, before he moved to South Shields in 1943 (Jade pictured with her mother Norma in 2019)

Family: The Little Mix’s singer’s granddad Mohammed was from Aden in Yemen, before he moved to South Shields in 1943 (Jade pictured with her mother Norma in 2019)

Conversation: And Jade shared more about her Yemeni heritage and learnt more about the ongoing conflict in Yemen with UNICEF during a Zoom call with Somaya, 17, from Sana¿a

Conversation: And Jade shared more about her Yemeni heritage and learnt more about the ongoing conflict in Yemen with UNICEF during a Zoom call with Somaya, 17, from Sana’a 

Jade’s grandfather worked as a firefighter in the merchant navy, before becoming a labourer at the docks.  

Jade explained the more she finds out about Yemen, the more she is finding a piece of herself and believes that while it’s important to celebrate her heritage, she also wants to educate herself about the ongoing conflict in and use her profile to raise awareness of UNICEF’s vital work supporting children and families.

Yemen remains the largest crisis in the world. Almost every child in Yemen – more than 12 million – needs humanitarian assistance. 

The spread of Covid-19 means the country is now facing a further emergency as sanitation and clean water are in short supply while  barely half of health facilities are functioning. 

Proud: 'He was the main person in my life who would really champion my Yemeni heritage and encourage me to acknowledge it all the time', Jade said (pictured with her brother as a kid)

Proud: ‘He was the main person in my life who would really champion my Yemeni heritage and encourage me to acknowledge it all the time’, Jade said (pictured with her brother as a kid)

The Little Mix star previously spoke about her Arab heritage in Vogue Arabia. 

She said: ‘My granddad passed away and suddenly I felt like I had lost that whole part of me. He was the person I’d go to when I felt down. 

‘He made me feel proud of who I was – he was my line of understanding to my Arab heritage,  I felt alone.’

Jade said she started to experience prejudice and racism at school because she was ‘one of the very few people of colour’.  

Culture: Jade explained the more she finds out about Yemen, the more she is finding a piece of herself

Culture: Jade explained the more she finds out about Yemen, the more she is finding a piece of herself

Sweet: 'I have really fond memories growing up of my Grandad going to the mosque, cooking me Yemeni food and telling me all these stories about living in Yemen,' Jade said

Sweet: ‘I have really fond memories growing up of my Grandad going to the mosque, cooking me Yemeni food and telling me all these stories about living in Yemen,’ Jade said

The songstress said she was bullied, called the P-word and was even pinned down in the toilets so a a bindi spot could be put on her forehead. 

She went on: ‘It affected my mental health. I became very depressed and it triggered the eating disorder I had throughout school.’

Jade said it wasn’t until she moved to London and experienced a multicultural environment that she realised how ‘messed up it was’.   

Now the songstress is celebrating her Yemeni heritage with UNICEF and is raising awareness for the UNICEF UK’s emergency appeal for children in Yemen.  

Important: Yemen remains the largest crisis in the world. Almost every child in Yemen ¿ more than 12 million ¿ needs humanitarian assistance

Important: Yemen remains the largest crisis in the world. Almost every child in Yemen – more than 12 million – needs humanitarian assistance

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