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. 

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.’ 

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. 

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