Children of Courage honoured by Rotary

Eight brave, young people have been honoured in the Rotary Club’s annual Children of Courage Awards.

Held again at William Alvey Primary School hall, guests were welcomed by Keith Austen, President of the Rotary Club of Sleaford Kesteven, and Jane Peck, President of the Rotary Club of Sleaford, who presented the awards along with Mayor of Sleaford Coun Anthony Brand and NKDC chairman Coun Mike Clarke.

The awards are presented to young people aged up to 18 who have shown courage and fortitude in their home lives and at school, overcoming mental or physical impairments, difficult family situations or other challenges.

Each child was introduced by a representative of the school or organisation which nominated them.

Ellie Smith, aged nine, is a member of the 3rd Sleaford Scout Group and Group Scout Leader Helen Zealand explained that Ellie’s mum was undergoing treatment for breast cancer after surgery. Ellie has helped at home, making breakfast for her and her little brother, drawing pictures and cards to bring home to cheer up her mum. She also helps with the laundry, the housework and is always asking how she can help her mum.

Helen said: “She is caring, kind, helpful and considerate. Despite all the challenges she faces, she comes along happy, smiling and chatty.”

Zak Sentance of Osbournby School was introduced by headteacher Heather Bide. In 2020 he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia, but stayed positive throughout the long and intensive course of treatment, keen to return to school. He suffered a relapse in January 2023 but again overcame it in time for Christmas.

Mrs Bide said: “Zak is one of the bravest children we have ever met.” She recalled him calling for some morphine while in school to overcome the pain, but refused to go home saying, “give it 20 minutes” and he would be fine.

Daisy-Bo Brooks, 14, is a student at St George’s Academy Ruskington who has faced adversity and challenges in her personal life disrupting her schooling. Despite this, Head of School Amanda Money said she is a real inspiration who continues to have a positive attitude despite her challenges.

Damian Bird goes to William Alvey School and has painful health issues which affect his physical abilities, but perserveres with a smile and a kind word. Headteacher Shaun Farrington said: “His determination and resilience are an inspiration to his classmates and they have learnt a lot from him.”

Lydia Littlejohn, 14, is a pupil at St George’s Academy Sleaford and was described as a fantastic role model by Deputy Head of Year Rebecca Marshall. Lydia has supported her parents with her sisters medical needs. She has anxiety herself and can sometimes find it hard to cope but has stayed positive.

Alfey Hedges, 11, is a pupil at Chestnut Street School in Ruskington and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes aged three. Alfey had to learn to live with his condition, managing his diet and blood sugar. Executive headteacher George Trafford said: “He is not only eager to discuss and explain the complexities of how diabetes affects his body, but he also remains composed during episodes of low or high blood sugar and knows how to effectively address these situations.”

Nine year old Aqra Rahmani of Our lady of Good Counsel School relocated to Sleaford from Kabul in Afghanistan not knowing a word of English but rapidly caught up with her fellow students.

Deputy Headteacher Pauline Chawner said Aqra had witnessed terrorist attacks and emotional upheaval. She said her smile is infectious and is a great role model.

Jack Green, 14, is a Carre’s Grammar school student who has been in and out of hospital and surgery due to a lifelong medical condition, developing sepsis and a high fever in the last year, very close to being put into a coma.

He has worked hard to catch up on his studies and returned to a full timetable in the autumn, showing willpower and resilience.

Finally, sisters Shannon and Tamsin Henry were honoured. Both attend Kesteven and Sleaford High School in years 13 and 11 respectively and shared an even closer connection when Tamsin effectively saved her older sister’s life by being a match for a bone marrow transplant for Shannon.

Shannon has a rare and complex genetic disorder called Chronic Granulomatous Disorder which causes an immune system deficiency.

Shannon has attended school when she could or home schooled and is determined to recover and get back to fronting her band and attending university.

Tamsin, who also plays for the county under 16 cricket squad, had to be tested and isolate to avoid infections prior to the bone marrow harvest but had supported her sister, but she sees it as the least she can do for her sibling.

Bill Martindale, one of the lead organisers of the awards said it was the best event ever in the 10 years they have been doing it.

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