Mansfield Rotary Club honours brave youngsters at annual Courage Awards

Mansfield Courage Awards 2015. Photo: Roger Grayson.
Mansfield Courage Awards 2015. Photo: Roger Grayson.

Ten brave youngsters who battle against the odds on a daily basis were honoured at a moving ceremony in Mansfield yesterday.

They were honoured at the annual Courage Awards hosted by Mansfield Rotary Club at the town’s Oakham Suite on Nottingham Road.

A packed room heard stories of incredible courage from the students - some of whom are fighting debilitating illness, while others go the extra mile to help others.

Families, friends and teaching staff were all at yesterday’s ceremony, where they saw each individual receive a certificate and a plaque.

Kieron Cooke

Kieron is a student at Mansfield’s All Saints’ Voluntary Academy and has been nominated by its head of learning support (SENCo), Nicola Coton.

He is 13 and has lived for most of his life with damaged hearing following an illness at the age of 18 months.

Says Mrs Coton: “Kieron wears hearing aids in both ears. To fully access his studies Kieron’s staff have to wear a transmitter to support his hearing.

“This hasn’t always been easy for Kieron especially in secondary school but, he has persevered and is now accessing a full Key Stage 4 curriculum. Kieron has excellent attendance and is a valued member of his house where regularly contributes to the house point system. Kieron deserves to be recognised for his commitment and determination to exceed and be fully inclusive in all areas of his life.”

Jean-Luc Evans

Popular Warsop teenager Jean-Luc suffers from Cerebral Palsy - but doesn’t not let that from holding him back and making the most out of school.

The 16-year-old attends Mansfield’s Queen Elizabeth’s Academy and lives with his parents Lord Kenjiro and Helen.

He has been nominated for the award by Joy Riley, community manager at the academy.

She said: “Jean-Luc has always shown courage to get on with his learning at school no matter how he might be feeling. His subject strengths are in French, Science and English his teachers say he is a keen student and always works hard. He has a kind outgoing personality with a good sense of humour and is a well-liked student. We feel Jean-Luc deserves to be recognised as a Child of Courage.”

Jean-Luc’s hobbies include shopping and socialising with friends, watching films and researching media and swimming.

His favourite subject is science as he finds the practical elements more interesting and fun.

Jean-Luc would like to go to university to study psychology because this would enable him to have the foundation to build a successful career and future.

Leah Jade Hartshorn

Leah has a positive attitude to life and does not let her condition - Cerebral Palsy - get in the way of her doing anything.

The 13-year-old Manor Academy student, who lives with her parents Donna and Andrew in Mansfield, has been nominated by teacher David White.

He said: “I proposed Leah because of her positive, can do attitude. At school she has never let her disability get in the way of doing anything. In fact it is quite the opposite; she insists on doing everything. She also looks out for other people and speaks up for them when they need help.

“Her popularity is reflected in the troop of students who can be seen following her around school every day.”

Leah attends all after school clubs, including homework club, trampolining and farm club. Leah also goes to her local Scouts group and takes part in all activities.

Demi Wharmby

At the age of 18, Demi has taken on the responsibility for her sister and managing a household budget following the death of their mother last year.

The Garibaldi College student, who lives with her boyfriend in Forest Town, has been nominated for the award by sixth form manager Sherryl Hadley.

She explained why she believed Demi should be recognised, saying: “In February 2014, Demi’s mum died from an aggressive form of cancer.

“Demi’s parents are estranged and Demi and her younger sister have had minimal contact with dad over the years; their only other relative is a brother who now lives in London.

“As there were no other immediate family members, Demi and her younger sister, Elli, moved in with Demi’s boyfriend. Demi has taken on the responsibility for Elli as well as coping with her own loss; this includes managing a household budget, food shopping, domestic chores and ensuring that Elli gets to school on time and has her uniform washed and ironed, as well as helping with her homework.

“Demi herself has continued to come to school and achieve. She approaches lessons maturely and work is always done on time. She has never used this as an excuse, which is admirable.”

She will be applying to university for 2016 entry once she has ensured that Elli is settled.

Time for hobbies is limited, but Demi does enjoy keeping fit and like most 18 year olds likes fashion, music and socialising with friends.

Demi’s natural aptitude for finance, combined with the fact that she can contextualise her learning in everyday life, makes this her favourite subject although she does enjoy English Literature and Business Studies.

On leaving school, she hopes to go to university to study Business and HR Management and to eventually become a HR manager.

Daisy Celba

Garibaldi College student Daisy has managed to keep on top of her school work - despite having to care for her family due to her mum suffering from ill health.

The 17-year-old is a registered carer who devotes most of her time to looking after mother, Kim.

She has been nominated for the award by her mentor and teacher, Sue Hallas - who says the teenager never uses her ‘circumstances as an excuse’.

“I nominated Daisy for this award because as a registered young carer, Daisy takes on the role of caring for her family whilst her mum suffers from ill health,” said Ms Hallas. “This includes managing the family’s budget, food shopping, domestic chores and ensuring the younger children get to school on time and have their uniforms washed and ironed, as well as helping with their homework.

“She has never used her circumstances as an excuse and has never referred to them. She has dealt with everything in a mature manner, rarely seen in someone so young. She has proved beyond doubt that life sometimes throws you a rough deal, but if you deal with it in a rational, logical manner, you can turn negatives into positives.

Daisy has managed to keep on top of her A level studies and has been offered a place to study to be a social worker and one day help to support families going through what she has been through.

Away from school, Daisy enjoys music and last year saved up enough money to go to the Leeds Festival.

She said: “It was my first time away from my mum and I camped for the weekend with a friend. I absolutely loved the experience and am saving hard for a ticket to go again this year.

“I enjoy seeing my friends and although my time is very limited, I try to meet up with them at least once every two weeks. I enjoy a change of scenery and having a laugh without any pressure!”

Sky Chaplin

Nineteen-year-old Sky Chaplin has been nominated for a Courage Award because of the way she has overcome adversity and remains positive about life.

The Fountaindale SEN School student has been put forward for recognition by assistant headteacher, Samantha Sheppard.

Said Samantha: “Sky was absent from school for an extended period where she had to be hospitalised due to ill health. During this time Sky missed a number of accreditation lessons but was able to catch up through pure will and determination to succeed.”

And Sky has a number of interests and hobbies too - and enjoys school life.

“I enjoy swimming, going to school and playing Boccia with my friends and staff,” she said.

Her favourite subject is English because a year ago she was afraid to talk in front of others but now is a lot more confident.

Added Sky: “I also enjoy the texts that we look at in school.”

One day she hopes to go into a school, like Fountaindale, where she will be able to teach sign language to others.

Oliver Pratley

Manchester United supporter Oliver wants to work in a kitchen like celebrity chef Jamie Oliver - but has already hit the headlines himself for his exploits in the swimming pool.

The 20-year-old Portland College volunteer, who lives with his mum Helen in Blidworth, is a world champion swimmer who has represented Great Britain on a number of occasions.

He has broken seven junior and nine European world records and in 2012 he became the World Champion in the 200m breaststroke.

Popular Oliver, who was nominated by the college’s Rachel Hensleigh, recently competed in the World Championships in Mexico where he won a silver and three bronze medals.

But it’s also his determination with his studies that has won him praise - especially after leaving mainstream education and missing out on funding to be an FE learner at Portland.

Said a spokesman: “Oliver approached Rachel, who he knew from meeting her as part of the Mansfield Rotary Club, to discuss if he could be eligible to access Portland College’s provision and train within the catering programme.

“Unfortunately Oliver was not granted funding to attend the college as an FE learner, again not taking no for an answer Oliver started to access Portland’s Day Services provision and applied as a volunteer with a clear goal and worked specifically in the catering team, working within our professional kitchen preparing food and serving staff and students alike.

“To this day Oliver works alongside the catering team and learners at Portland College. He has chosen to serve students and staff on the salad and healthy eating bar within the canteen. He offers advice and guidance and when someone of Oliver’s stature gives you some advice on healthy eating it’s often worth listening too.

“Oliver has displayed true drive and determination in achieving his goals both in the sporting arena and overcoming hurdles on his learning journey. He has shown that regardless of disability or any characteristic you care to mention, he has proved that you can achieve what you set out to do. He has shown true courage to overcome setbacks and one day’ Oliver would like to work as a chef similar to his namesake Jamie Oliver.”

Kayleigh King

Despite enduring pain on a daily basis with her hips, West Notts College student Kayleigh King continues to excel with her studies.

The 17-year-old, who lives with her father Scott in South Normanton, has been nominated by her tutor, Leslye Henstock.

Said Leslye: “Kayleigh has had problems with her hips since she was four years old. This has had a profound impact on her life and education, but Kayleigh battles on. After several operations, and coping with pain on a daily basis, she is making the most of her training. She is currently completing a successful year on CACHE Level 1 Diploma in Childcare.”

Tyler Keep

Tyler is a student at Kirkby’s Beech Academy and has been nominated by its deputy headteacher, Rob Butler.

He is 14 years old and lives with his mother, Lynne, in Kirkby.

Says Rob: “Tyler came to the Beech Academy after several years out of formal schooling.

“When he started he was extremely anxious and found being in a school quite difficult after years out of education.

“Gradually Tyler has settled in, made friends and the quality of his work (including his handwriting) have improved.

“Re-entering education took a huge amount of courage and the school would like to acknowledge his achievement.”

Ashleigh Cassell

Something as simple as a trip to the opticians started a courageous journey for the Cassell family.

It was there that something was discovered at the back of Ashleigh’s eye.

However, an emergency trip to King’s Mill Hospital and a scan of the Samworth Church Academy’s head revealed nothing.

The anguish continued when Ashleigh lost the sight in her eye and found herself at King’s Mill again.

During all this time Ashleigh remained at school as much as she could.

But it was during a science lesson that Ashleigh noticed her arm suddenly turn very cold and blue and subsequently found herself rushed to hospital again.

This time, however, she did not leave for more than a week and returned to school with the fashionable addition of a sling for the best part of a month.

Ashleigh struck up a bond with Mrs Mandy Reeks, then an administrator at school, who never failed to take time out of her day to listen to Ashleigh and support her as much as she possibly could.

Ashleigh was referred to Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre and following an appointment there was re-admitted to King’s Mill.

In Ashleigh’s words, everything seemed to go downhill.

Ashleigh was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), became anorexic and suffered from anxiety and depression.

When Ashleigh returned to school, five months later, she was a different person. Still suffering with anxiety and anorexia, she tried to ignore her problems and concentrate on the good things in life.

Ashleigh says: “I still suffer from anxiety today but I know that because I got through everything that happened I can get through anything that comes my way.”

Ashleigh takes her exams this summer and is on track to achieve eight GCSEs.