Mansfield Rotary Club’s annual Courage Awards seek nominations from education establishments across the area for youngsters who have overcame tremendous personal difficulties to thrive.
Rotarian Stewart Rickersey said: “We asked them to give consideration to the challenges overcome by the nominees in terms of physical, environmental and mental problems.
“They were asked to nominate a student who, in their opinion, most exemplified moral and spiritual courage in the face of personal adversity and difficulty.”
The youngsters are then honoured at a special awards dinner, which this year took place at Portland College, Harlow.
Each nominee received a engraved plaque, from club president Kate Allsop, and civic citation, from Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor, before a photo with the mayor, president and a school or college representative.
Mrs Allsop said: “Our awards have their origin in Mansfield, Ohio, where that city’s Rotary Club began their programme in 1968 when a retired Salvation Army Brigadier, William McGowan, saw the need to honour worthy students not usually selected for awards and thus the Mansfield Ohio Courage Award programme started. It continues to this day, 54 years later as an annual event.
“So, what one Mansfield club started what better then, than for Mansfield Rotary here in England to emulate and continue their example.”
Ellie Parker – A Place To Call Our Own, Mansfield
Ellie has been praised for her resilience and kindness as she works through daily anxiety issues to be a positive role model for her peers.
The 16-year-old joined APTCOO when her school placement became too difficult because of mental health and anxiety problems.Michaela Ledsham, of APTCOO, said: “Ellie is an incredibly kind and caring young lady who has overcome significant personal challenges, which in turn demonstrate her bravery, courage, and determination.
“Since joining APTCOO in 2021 she has worked hard to overcome personal battles with her mental health.
“At times she carries high levels of anxiety that have previously caused barriers with her ability to cope with the demands of everyday life, engage in learning and, more importantly, socially interact with her peers.
“She has grown dramatically in confidence over the last term and is excelling within her academic subjects.”
Ellie enjoys art, media and creative design and at school her favourite subject is history. Now she hopes to attend college and further study history.
Amelia Page – REACH, Mansfield
Amelia was honoured because of her positive outlook on life and determination to overcome the many challenges she has faced.
Maria Williams, centre manager, said: “Amelia has faced lots of hurdles in her life, but endeavours to remain positive.
“She is such a lovely person who works through any problems she faces and her nature lends itself to being a very calm, well-adjusted person with a sunny disposition.”
Amelia enjoys writing, painting, walking, listening to music, and playing games on her Xbox.
She said she is happy going to Reach because she gets to make friends and meet new people.
In the future, Amelia would like to write a book on her life experiences from the perspective of a person with a learning disability, as well as work towards living in independent accommodation.
Lille Childerley – The Brunts Academy, Mansfield
The 14-year-old has been nominated for the way she always strives to do the best in everything, despite her own difficulties.
Karen Hollingsworth, aeaching assistant at Brunts, said: “Lillie is kind, caring, humble, selfless and considerate towards staff and students, and will always try to find a solution to problems and difficulties”
Lillie loves art and also enjoys gardening and growing home produce to donate to centres for the homeless, being outdoors, and spending time with animals.
Her ambition is to get a good job and have a house and pets.
Ellis Preece – The Joseph Whitaker School, Rainworth
A caring, sensible and delightful young man is how the Rainworth school describes the 16-year-old.
Ellis, of Rainworth, overcame difficult times when he joined the school and has met the challenges he has since faced.
Now he is about to take his GCSE exams and eventually hopes to pursue a career in criminology or sport.
Julie Mackay, school student support centre manager, said: “Over the last five years, we have seen Ellis mature into a caring, sensible and delightful young man.
“His transition into secondary school was difficult at times, but he has shown great resilience and maintained high levels of effort in order to overcome the many hurdles and challenges he has had to face.”
Ellis enjoys playing football, watching Marvel movies, astrology and geography. His favourite subjects at school are sport and science, which allows him to develop his knowledge about space.Kaelan Emery – Meden School, Warsop
Kaelan has been recognised for the way he has coped with huge turmoil in his family.
The 16-year-old, of Spion Kop, who plays rugby for Meden Vale, has continued to work hard during his final exam year, despite his father, Ross, being diagnosed with cancer.
Kim Hickinbotham, head of year, said: “Kaelan is very close to his dad and has understandably struggled to come to terms with it.
“Despite this, he attends school and puts 100 per cent into all his studies.
“He never gives up even though inside he might often feel like it. Kaelan is always mature, kind to others and caring — and always puts others before himself. Kaelan is a great person.”
Kaelan’s favourite subjects at school are sport and engineering because they are practical based. In the future he is aiming for career in engineering or aerospace.
DJ Nettleship – Queen Elizabeth’s Academy, Mansfield
An inspiration to all with his courage, determination and positivity in the face of adversity is how those at Queen Elizabeth’s describe the 12-year-old.The academy said he will go far in life due to his wonderful attitude and his resilience.
Lindsey Bland, head of Year 7, said: “It was a unanimous decision by all heads of year to nominate DJ.
“Starting secondary school is daunting for all students, not least when you have obstacles to overcome in the way DJ has.
“As a staff body we have all been so impressed every day with the way DJ has adapted to secondary school life. Although there have been days when he has struggled a little, he never lets it dampen his spirits and DJ continues to be the best version of himself, with his big, beaming smile.”
DJ, of Mansfield Woodhouse, loves to swim and play computer games. He enjoys ICT and is keen to learn all there is to know about computers and ICT.
Milly-Ann and Olivia Rawson – Samworth Church Academy, Mansfield
The sisters, from Mansfield, have shown great courage in coming to terms with suffering from an inherited rare genetic heart condition, for which there are few treatment options.
They have Brugada syndrome, or sudden death syndrome, and have a loop recorder fitted, linked to a monitoring system with the cardiac team at Bristol Hospital.
Despite these challenges, both are thriving.
Maria Fletcher, assistant headteacher, said: “Both girls take part in PE and have multiple awards for excellent attendance — they both have 100 per cent attendance.
“Olivia has an art award badge, and 135 positive points awarded so far this year. “Milly-Ann has a drama badge and an English badge and 52 positive points awarded so far this year.“In our academy, positives points are awarded for our five values — positivity, vocation, service, respect and forgiveness. Both Milly-Ann and Olivia clearly demonstrate all five of our values every day with their attitude to their learning and to life in general.”
Milly-Ann, aged 14, enjoys gymnastics, going out with friends and visiting theme parks, while 13-year-old Olivia likes gymnastics, climbing and theme parks.
Milly-Ann particularly likes studying history ‘because learning about the past informs us about the future’, while dance is Olivia’s favourite subject at school ‘because it is expressive and fun’.
The sisters both would like to go to university — Milly-Ann to study history and English literature, and Olivia to study criminology.Brooke McClean – REAL Education, Mansfield
Music and a footballing dream have been a source of comfort for Brooke, who has been nominated for the way he has responded to the sudden death of his father.
The 15-year-old, 15, has provided outstanding support for his family and four younger siblings after the death of his father, Conrad, in November.
Dawn Hembrow, REAL learning manager, said: “Brooke has used his love of music and music production to support his emotional health.
He sang the song he wrote, recorded and produced – Look To The Sky – at Conrad’s wake.
Brooke enjoys football and going to the gym. In the future he hopes to get scouted into a professional football team.
At school he particularly likes maths and sport ‘because I feel I am good at them’.
Ryley Briston – Portland College, Harlow Wood
In 2016, Ryley Briston with a bleed on the brain after playing football with his friends. He was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation that was life-changing, leaving Ryley unable to walk, talk or eat.
His life changed dramatically and Ryley began a challenging and difficult journey to get to where he is today, helped by his parents, brother, medical professionals and therapy specialists.
But Jennifer Clapham, progression tutor at the college, where Ryley is studying sport, said ultimately it is Ryley who has shown ‘strength, courage and copious amounts of resilience in battling to get his voice heardand his independence back’.
She said: “Ryley is an absolute pleasure to work with and epitomises courage and bravery that is needed to succeed in sport and life.”
Ryley has retained his competitive nature and is a member of Nottingham Special Olympics Basketball.
Last year, he committed his free time to completing a Duke of Edinburgh silver award, despite finding walking long distances a challenge.
Storm Reveley – West Nottinghamshire College, Mansfield
Storm has been recognised for overcoming a major illness and intensive chemotherapy to complete qualifications at college with distinction.
The 20-year-old was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in June 2021, while she was finished her level-two beauty therapy qualification at the college.
As well as having chemotherapy, she was juggling online learning and being a teenager during the pandemic.
Most people would have given up on their college studies, but not Storm.
She went on to complete her qualification and progressed on to the level-three advanced diploma in beauty therapy treatments – even logging onto lessons remotely from hospital.
Kate Taylor, beauty therapy tutor, said: “Storm is back to full strength now on her course and has been involved in both the launch and steering of a beauty learning company project.
“All staff in the beauty department have been touched by her courage and determination to not only pass the course, but to go above and beyond.
“Storm’s class bubble have supported and helped her on her journey and hold such admiration for the self-belief she displays. They can’t get over her gogetting attitude to achieve.
“We are so very proud of Storm for everything she has achieved and her resilience is second-to-none.”
Storm, of Cossall, says she enjoys beauty therapy, because she likes to make clients look and feel good. Her ambition is to own her own beauty salon with her friend, do more charity work, and help other people going through cancer treatment.
Hope Pugh – West Nottinghamshire College, Mansfield
Hope is an inspiration to her peers at the college as she studies hospitality and catering on the road to her dream of working in a restaurant kitchen.
The 16-year-old, of Kirkby, has cerebral palsy and autism and struggles with very limited capacity in her right arm and finds it difficult to stand for long periods.
However, she was determined to try the level-one certificate in skills for working in hospitality and catering course and adapt, in order to successfully work in the kitchen and restaurant’s practical areas.
Jo Wilson, hospitality and catering programme area leader, said: “Hope has a positive attitude and is always stretching and challenging herself to do her best. She never gives in and is always willing to try new things.
“During the first term, the cohort attended The Mill Adventure Base in Sutton. Hope had 100 per cent participation and competed in all activities, including kayaking and climbing.
“There is nothing Hope will not try – she demonstrates resilience at every level and is adapting and achieving daily.”
Hope, of Kirkby, has learning support assistance within the college, but likes to be independent wherever possible – taking the approach she will only ask for help when she feels she really needs it.
She aims to continue with hospitality and catering and progress to the level-two NVQ diploma in professional cookery in September.
Hope, who plays wheelchair sports and attends a weekly Boccia club, said she enjoys making dishes from scratch.