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Courageous youngsters an ‘inspiration’

Children of Courage 2015
Children of Courage 2015

Coping with caring for a poorly loved one or living with your own disability can make life very difficult.

However, these five inspirational young people have refused to let what life throws at them bring them down.

Each have been put forward by their school to receive a Children of Courage Award in a ceremony organised for the fourth year by the Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven.

President Bob McKinlay said: “The Grantham Kesteven Rotary Club is once again delighted to recognise the extraordinary achievements of these young people in our community. They are an inspiration to us all.”

The teenagers will all attend a special lunch on Wednesday at the Urban Hotel, followed by the awards presentation.

Each year since 2012 the Rotary club has shone the spotlight on the town’s most remarkable young people, in celebration of how they have overcome adversity to build on their lust for life and achieve great things.

See next week’s Journal for coverage of the Children of Courage Awards 2015.

**Poppy Little is a Year 12 student at Walton Girls’ High School.

Her older sister, Jess, was born with a rare chromosome disorder so her mum is a full-time carer. Poppy has supported her mum throughout her life and stands in to care for Jess when needed.

Poppy’s mum, Amanda, registered Poppy as a young carer to enable her to get out and meet people.

She recognises that Poppy has often had to go without, always having to take second place to her sister’s needs.

They have never had time alone together as mother and daughter – Poppy was even on her own for her 16th birthday as her mum was with Jess was in hospital.

Poppy does not see herself as different from other girls her age. She has a very positive attitude to life and has made the most of all opportunities. She took part in the National Citizenship Service scheme last summer, which gave her the opportunity to work with other young people to gain skills that she will use in any future career.

Jess is unable to speak but can communicate through Makaton, so Poppy has also learned the language to help communicate with those around Jess.

She and Jess are very close; Poppy loves her sister very much and is very proud of her achievements.

Poppy achieved a fantastic set of results in her GCSEs and is now making excellent progress in her A-levels. She is aiming to go to university.

Head of sixth form Jane Etherington said: “Poppy’s vision and commitment are a credit to her.”

** Chelsey Darby, a Year 10 pupil of Priory Ruskin Academy, has faced a lot of difficulties in her life.

Two years ago her step-mum became very ill and, following a traumatic five months, she died.

She and Chelsey’s father had been the teenager’s main carers and suddenly Chelsey and her siblings found themselves without a mum.

Her older sister left the family home a few months later, so when her father’s health deteriorated, much of the responsibility for caring for the younger siblings fell to Chelsey.

Despite the many adverse situations she has had to deal with, Chelsey attended school every day, taking great pride in her appearance and presentation. Academic life doesn’t come easily to Chelsey but she continued to try hard, using the support put in place by the school.

July 2014 presented another challenging situation for Chelsey and it became increasingly obvious from September that she was caring for her dad as well as her siblings. The love, support and protectiveness she has for him is clear.

Priory’s Anne Hill said: “She showed a maturity way beyond her years. These qualities are very much in demand by her younger siblings at the moment and Chelsey just keeps on giving.”

Chelsey has a very loving and supportive extended family in her paternal grandparents. She is now a member of a young carers’ support group, which she enjoys. She remains a polite, attentive and hard-working student, who has an excellent record of attendance. Chelsey also represented her tutor group last year, in the student council.

** Peter Bowman was born in 2006 with Downs’ Syndrome, associated developmental delay and left-sided hemiplegic cerebral palsy.

Since birth, Peter has undergone a series of operations to both his left and right hips, operations to release the tendons in the lower part of his left leg and hamstring muscle. Following his first hip operation in 2013, Peter was unable to walk independently, being initially confined to a wheelchair but then he quickly progressed to using a ‘Kaye Walker’. Following a four- month period of intense physiotherapy and Peter’s determination, he was able to walk independently, which was a great achievement.

Peter joined Sandon School in September 2011 and he is a popular member of his class. He always has a smile on his face, with his tutor describing him as ‘a pleasure to have in class’.

Lead in safeguarding and pastoral at Grantham Additional Needs Federation Sarah Watts said: “Following his operations, Peter returned to school in plaster and in a wheelchair but this did not affect the way he was in school; he entered into the whole of school life with his cheeky smile and great sense of humour.”

** Ben Leonard is a profoundly deaf student studying Level 1 hospitality and catering at Grantham College, but hasn’t let this hold him back with his education and family life.

He also has adapted to a part time job.

Ben joined the course in September 2014 and was initially very apprehensive.

Curriculum leader Kim Ashbee said: “He was worried as to how he would fit in and how he would be accepted by his peers.

Ben need not have worried!

He engages with the other students who are all very keen to learn Ben’s first language of British sign language.”

Ben joined the course as he was inspired by an advert he came across about a restaurant that had opened for the deaf community and he hopes to do this himself in the future.

He is a pleasant student with a sense of humour and dedication to his studies.

Ben has not let his deafness become a barrier to achieving his goals.

**As part of an additional science project at West Grantham Academy St Hugh’s, Steven Carter decided to write an introduction to cystic fibrosis so his Year 8 classmates could understand what it is and why he has many hospital appointments.Among the scientific facts and figures about how the disease affects his body, he began to divulge how he feels about his condition.

He said: “Cystic fibrosis affects every person differently.

“I am not lucky that I have it because it stinks and I hate it but I understand that I do have it and I am lucky to be quite well at the moment.”

Steven’s form tutor, Kathryn Thulbourn, encouraged Steven to share this with his form group and thinks he was shocked at the reaction he received. The students were incredibly interested to hear how he coped with taking so many tablets when the antibiotics they took when they had a throat infection were ‘annoying’. Steven is an asset to all at St Hugh’s as his eagerness to learn and experience new things every day is a real pleasure to be around.

Ms Thulbourn said: “No matter what obstacles his cystic fibrosis throws at him, Steven continues to be the best he can be in all he applies himself to. We are very proud.”

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