Seven inspirational children will be under the spotlight this afternoon (Wednesday) when they accept their Children of Courage awards.
The Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven will hold its annual awards at the Urban Hotel in Grantham, where recipients and their loved ones will gather.
Each year, secondary schools in the town are invited to nominate a child they believe should be recognised for their bravery, whether that be coping with a disability or meeting a challenging situation head-on.
Rotary club president Chris Thurlow said: “We are delighted to present the Children of Courage awards to seven very special young people. It is important that we recognise the challenges that they have overcome.”
Following lunch, each youngster will be invited up to the podium to receive their award. They will also hear from special guest Kathryn Gallagher, a 24-year-old grade IV Para rider with Turner syndrome, a growth disorder.
Last year, Kathryn competed at her first major championships, the European Para-Dressage Championships, held in France. She aims to qualify for the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Montreal and her ambition is to take part in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
THE CHILDREN OF COURAGE
**Jade Illingworth – Grantham Additional Needs Fellowship, Sandon School
Jade lives at home with her mum, dad and two brothers.
She was around three years old when she started undergoing health tests and global developmental delay was initially identified. In 2003, she was diagnosed with Rett syndrome alongside other conditions such as epilepsy, breathing problems, scoliosis, swollen lower limbs, high muscle tension and low blood pressure.
Since the age of six, Jade has been confined to a wheelchair but this has never stopped her from living a happy and full life. She works hard and has lots of friends. Jade loves being around people.
She enjoys music and her favourite programmes range from Tweenies to Russell Howard. She sometimes pretends to be asleep but if sung the Tweenies’ signature tune, she soon starts to smile! She has no speech but can communicate as long as you know what to look for; it’s all in the eyes.
Her teacher, Claire Fenton, said: “Jade is a happy young lady; she faces every challenge with a smile.
“I am so proud of Jade, especially this past year during transition after an operation. She is more bright and alert.
“I am extremely lucky to be able to share school life with her and share new experiences with her.
“Jade is truly beautiful inside and out.”
**Emily Hollis – Priory Ruskin Academy
It is very difficult to explain to someone how Year 7 student Emily copes with her disability on a day-to-day basis, because she copes incredibly well.
She never moans or complains. She is very positive and is always putting everyone else before herself. She is extremely kind and so caring.
Emily was born with cataracts. She had her first operation at 12 weeks old to remove them. She has been left with nystagmus – an incurable eye condition – and limited vision. She is registered as partially sighted. She also has a rare hereditary heart condition called Long QT syndrome, which can cause fainting and even sudden cardiac arrest. Emily has spent a lot of time at hospital for appointments, tests and admission.
She is always keen to keep up with her school work and has never fallen behind. She has fainted on a few occasions at home and has woken up to paramedics and a trip by ambulance to hospital.
Due to her vision, Emily uses a symbol cane while out and about so others are aware she cannot see very well. She will never be able to drive and cannot cross roads on her own.
Many sports are a problem for Emily as she can’t see the ball in many ball games and she can’t exert herself due to her heart condition.
She sometimes needs help, when looking for things around the house and with homework if the print size is not large enough. She gets tired easily but never gives up.
Head of house Karen Shelford said: “Both her family and her school are extremely proud of Emily; she is an inspiration to us all.”
Emily is very determined to fulfil her dream of becoming a vet.
**Amberly-Mae Johnson – Grantham Additional Needs Fellowship, Ambergate School
Amberly-Mae is 12 years old and was born with the rare condition of Kniest dysplasia, which effects bone development.
She has spent much of her life in and out of hospital and recovering from major surgeries on both her legs and spine. Despite numerous medical interventions, however painful, she has never allowed these difficulties to hinder her in any way.
Seriena Hodder, from the safeguarding and pastoral care team at Ambergate, said: “You would never suspect that Amberly-Mae is a girl who lives with daily pain and contends not only with her own symptoms, but is also a young carer for her mother who has the same diagnosis.
“She is so happy and has an enviable social life.
“She is a positive role model and a credit to Ambergate School.”
**Ethan Blackman – King’s School
In the opinion of the King’s School staff that know him, Year 13 student Ethan displayed exemplary courage during the illness and death of his mum last year.
Ethan’s teachers have nothing but praise for him.
His house leader Emily Hansen said: “Ethan is my house captain and has so far discharged his duties in an exemplary fashion.
“He is enthusiastic, committed and an inspiration and role model for other pupils.
“He has given up his time willingly to lead two house assemblies, has participated in all house events for the sixth form and co-ordinated a team on every occasion.
“He has supported pupils lower down the school during sports events and shown passion and a willingness to enthuse the younger boys.
“In his assemblies, he drew on the adversity he has experienced in his own life to explain to pupils how they might overcome certain obstacles and, hopefully, become a better person in the process.
“I am very pleased to hear that he will be receiving a Children of Courage award and congratulate him on all his efforts and achievements so far.”
Ethan’s physics teacher Sara Jones said: “Ethan is a cheerful and friendly student who is always happy to help others.
“He worked with Mr Whiting and a group of Year 5 students who came to King’s for a morning from Huntingtower School and he had a fabulous manner with the students, listened well to the students and answered their questions. A truly lovely young man.”
**Millie North – Walton Girls’ High School and Sixth Form
Millie is currently in Year 10 at Walton where she has shown considerable independence and bravery.
She has never allowed her achondroplasia to get in her way and it has certainly not stopped her.
She is self-motivated, energetic and not afraid to challenge the system or ask for help when she needs it.
Several members of staff at the school explained why Millie is deserving of a Children of Courage award.
One said: “Millie is a true inspiration.
“She tackles every day with 100 per cent effort and never complains.
“She is always very chirpy and has a great sense of humour. Considering her medical condition, Millie does an amazing job in mainstream school.
“She doesn’t use her disability as an excuse and works hard in all areas of her studies, including PE.”
Another commented: “Millie always has a smile on her face and never complains about anything at all.
“She never makes excuses and always gets on with things.
“When she was in my form, she would always volunteer to help out and to mentor the younger students. When we did the fashion show last year, she was one of our models and was fantastic at representing the form.”
Head of house Tiffany Boot said: “Millie is an inspiration to others who moan and grumble about how hard their own lives are – she is unfailingly cheerful and positive.”
**Jade Malone – Grantham College
Jade is a young adult who has a positive attitude to life, education...and fashion.
She has cerebral palsy and relies on a wheelchair to access all aspects of daily living.
Jade joined Grantham College in September 2014 and has continued to work towards gaining a qualification in art and design.
She successfully completed a course last year and has continued to work towards achieving a level 2 qualification this year, despite some medical concerns.
Debbie Norman, learning support co-ordinator, said: “Moving to further education has been a huge step for Jade, but she has shown great confidence, stamina and independence since joining the college.
“Jade is a friendly young lady who is sociable, has a great group of friends and has a wicked sense of humour.
“She deals with any obstacles put in her way with her usual ‘can do’ attitude.”
**Tyler Forster – West Grantham Academy St Hugh’s
Only a month after Tyler had started at his new secondary school, West Grantham Academy St Hugh’s, he was at home one evening when his little sister became unwell and suffered a fit.
He initially alerted his mum.
While his mum was tending to his sister, and without any instructions, Tyler ran downstairs to fetch her mobile phone and dialled 999 before handing the phone back to her.
He then waited at the front door for the paramedics to arrive .
He also called his stepfather to get him to come home.
Form tutor Claire Morley told the Grantham Journal: “Tyler acted in a very calm and mature manner and we are very proud of him.
“Fortunately, his little sister made a full recovery.”