Over the years Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards has recognised and honoured some of the region’s bravest and most deserving children and young adults. In 2014 we also started to identify local Groups and Organisations that contribute significantly to the welfare of children in the community. You can read their stories and watch their videos here:
Winners 0 - 12 years
Sporting AchievementShahayna Begum
Shahayna is profoundly deaf. She can’t access speech and can only hear very loud environmental sounds. She uses sign language and lip patterns to communicate. Shahayna captained her school boccia team to a second-place finish in the Bradford Panathlon last year and they also finished runners-up in Panathlon’s West Yorkshire competition. Girlington’s Teacher of the Deaf, Claire Hussain, said: ‘Shahayna is a role model for other deaf children in our school. They’ve seen what Shahayna has achieved and they want to emulate it. She is so enthusiastic and determined to succeed at anything. She used to lack a bit of confidence, but now she says “I CAN do it!” Panathlon has given Shahayna confidence and a chance to succeed, and it’s really good in terms of encouraging her to interact with other children, and not just deaf children.’ After collecting her trophy, certificate and bronze medal, Shahayna said: I loved the parachute and curling games the best. I love loads of sport, especially boccia and dodgeball.Watch Shahayna's video
Young CarerJoseph Johnson
10 year old Joe has twin 13 year old siblings, Jack and Charlie. Jack has cerebral palsy, learning difficulties and developmental delay. Charlie has autism, epilepsy, cortical visual impairment, learning difficulties and developmental delay. Joe looks after his older brothers so much. He helps them with many simple tasks like dressing, getting breakfast, getting into the car, getting onto the school bus, just everyday things that other children can do by themselves. He helps them with technology and reading and helps push them around in their wheelchairs when out and about. These are just a few examples of the things he does: the list could be much longer! When Charlie has a seizure, he takes Jack and his younger sister Megan (3) away from the room to keep it quiet. He fetches Charlie’s medicine the phone so help can be called. When Charlie has a meltdown, Joe is often the one to calm him down with his distraction techniques but other times he has been known to pick his little sister up (without being asked) and take her away from the situation because he hasn’t wanted her to see Charlie lashing out or getting hurt. When Jack had an operation last year, Joe was the one who was very worried, wanted to visit and play games to keep his spirits up. He’s always tried to include Jack in his play. When they were younger they were in the garden playing rugby. Jack was saying ‘Its ok Joe I’ll go slow for you.’ Confused I looked up to see Joe wearing Jack’s splints and trying to run around with Jack who had taken them off. His response ‘Jacks a wobbler so I wanted to be a wobbler too so we could play rugby together!’Watch Joe's video
Special RecognitionCharlie Senior
Charlie was born on 3 February 2007 as a healthy baby boy and the younger brother to his two older siblings. When only a few months old Charlie was rushed to hospital and was diagnosed with having suffered a severe brain injury. Charlie was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy, severe learning difficulties and registered blind. Unable to walk or talk, Charlie has spent his young life since undergoing treatment and therapies and requiring 24 hour care and support from his family. Now, at the age of 10, Charlie has worked tremendously hard to reach so many of the milestones that other children take for granted, such as being able to walk unaided and engage with the world around him. His efforts in therapy are also matched by his efforts in school, as Charlie has gone from being unable to communicate with the world around him, to learning how to count to 10, not only in English but also German and Spanish! Most importantly of all, Charlie has made an outstanding achievement in going from being unable to communicate at all for years, to being able to have conversations with his family. Charlie is an example of outstanding bravery for overcoming the kind of adversity that most families couldn’t imagine. All his progress in his therapies continues to pay off, even regaining some of his vision! Charlie has fought every step of the way to become the person that he is today and his story is one that gives hope to other children and families in similar situations to him.Watch Charlie's video
Outstanding BraveryLola Daley
After suffering a series of seizures and debilitating headaches earlier this year, Lola was diagnosed with a brain tumour the size of a ping pong ball. The family has been supported by the Sick Children’s Trust which offered them “home from home” accommodation at Treetop House a few minutes away from the ward where their daughter was undergoing lifesaving surgery. Only half an hour after her 8 hour surgery Lola was facetiming people telling them to look at her scar and talking with an Australian accent (which she can’t remember due to the drugs) and a week after her surgery she took part in her junior school production with the rest of her school friends. Lola is now up and running as normal and can’t wait to get back to dance, swimming and her competitive acro gymnastics career for which she has won medals, notably a gold medal at a competition in France.Watch Lola's video
We have 2 boys and when our youngest was born in 2013 our lives changed forever. Lewis was born with Apert syndrome and has undergone many surgeries and lengthy hospital stays in his first 3 years. Through all this, his big brother Hayden has been a great big brother, strong and showing great maturity. Lewis’s surgeries have taken place in Alder Hey children’s hospital and Hayden decided in late 2015 that he wanted to fundraise for them to say thank you for all the care the hospital have given Lewis. In 2016 he took part in a duathlon in Portugal, organised 2 charity evenings, went to London with his school choir singing in many places including St Paul’s Cathedral and 10 Downing Street. His commitment has led to him becoming an Alder Hey Children’s Charity Ambassador. In 2016, with the help of his family and friends, he raised a staggering £17,000 (not quite sure at 10 that he quite understands how much this is!) Hayden and Lewis have helped promote the Charity’s Matalan Fundraising campaign which to date has raised over £1.5million. He has spoken in front of an audience of potential major funders at Claridge’s Hotel, which raised over £80,000. His commitment to educate other people from young to old about his brother’s condition and the work of Alder Hey is truly inspirational. For a young man of his age he speaks confidently and proudly of everything about the hospital and the help they give Lewis and our family.Watch Hayden's video
Winners 13 - 18 years
Sporting AchievementBillie Lambert
Billie Lambert received our 2017 Panathlon ‘Highly Commended’ trophy for West Yorkshire. She initially struggled to cope with her visual impairment after transitioning from primary to secondary school, until “through Panathlon“, she discovered a talent for running. Her ability became more apparent when she joined her local running club Halifax Harriers. She held her own, competing against fully sighted pupils, and her coach was not initially aware of her impairment.
After a year of regularly ‘getting annoyed’ with herself for drifting out of her running lane, she admitted to her coach, Brian Burgin, that she was visually impaired. He admits he was ‘stunned’ at the standard she had reached, competing against her peers, despite her disability. Billie has now been given a formal classification (T13) which means she will compete against others with a similar field of vision. Her main events are 100 metres and 200 metres and she is already training within the standard required to qualify for the GB team. Billie also dances in Freestyle, Contemporary, Rock and Roll and Street competitions, where she has been National U13 Street Champion for the last two years. Billie has also been competing at National Level with her pairs partner in the Rock and Roll category where they finished first overall.
Billie commented: ‘I never had enough confidence to do sport on my own unless someone else came with me. I was a bit shy. But at Panathlon I saw children whose lives are much harder than mine. Witnessing these children being so happy when they’ve got such a different life to everyone else made me realise other kids have it a lot harder than me. If I’m lucky enough in the future, I’d like to help kids like them find confidence as I have done. I’ve always had my heart set on being a dancer because my mum is a dance teacher and she passed on her passion to me. I started training to gain stamina for my dancing and that still means a lot to me, but I’m going to keep pushing myself with my running, training and practising and see how far it takes me. Burgin, who is credited with launching the career of 10-time World Para Athletics gold medallist Hannah Cockroft, says the sky is the limit for Billie. ‘She’s running as quick as some of these Paralympians at the World Para Athletics Championships, so she has a hell of a future ahead of her. We need to make sure we develop her. In 2020, with a lot of hard work and encouragement, she could easily be at the Paralympic Games. That’s how good she is “she just doesn’t realise it yet!’Watch Billie's video
Young CarerHolly Marsden
Holly has been the sole carer for her very unwell dad for the past 5 years from the age of 12. She has accompanied me to countless hospital appointments/emergency ambulance admissions. She has been my sole visitor during many admissions. More recently, her swift actions saved me from extensive brain damage and disability when I suffered a major stroke. Since returning home, Holly has cooked, cleaned, shopped and organised my medical appointments for me and taken responsibility for organising my medication. She has done all of this whilst completing a full-time college course and suffering the loss of her beloved grandfather from cancer. I truly believe I would not have survived the past 5 years without her incredible maturity and courage.Watch Holly's video
Special RecognitionFinn Knaggs
Finn Knaggs, a pupil at St John’s Catholic School for the Deaf in Boston Spa near Wetherby, is a worthy winner of Panathlon’s ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award for North Yorkshire, for overcoming severe difficulties to excel in our boccia, football and multisport competitions. At just seven months old he contracted pneumococcal meningitis which resulted in profound sensory neural hearing loss, complex epilepsy and left-side hemiplegia. The regular seizures he suffered also resulted in delayed language and communication, particularly speech. Due to his disabilities, particularly his deafness, he finds academic life a challenge, but sport, “Panathlon in particular “, has allowed him to compete alongside his peers, flourish and excel. Panathlon events have broadened his horizons, giving him empathy and awareness of other children’s difficulties and increasing his determination and confidence in overcoming his own. His fine motor skills remain a weak area but sport allows him to develop his gross motor skills, particularly his excellent hand-eye coordination. Finn loves football and, after initial wariness about being able to include him successfully, Guiseley’s junior team in west Leeds has now embraced him, especially after he scored a hat-trick on his debut. He is also a member of a table tennis club and helps his mum re-home injured and abused dogs, some of which are brought in from Greece. He does ‘meet and greets’ with the dogs when they arrive at the kennels and helps to walk them. He is always willing to help me and my work partner, Joanne, with our dog rescue. He helps on our New Hope Dog Squad stalls – serving and running the tombola stall, which he is very good at and always with a big smile. Finn also helps walk and comfort the rescue dogs we come back with (some very badly treated and frightened) and he comes to visit them when we do home checks to make sure they are settling well into new homes. He has starred in a lot of our posters for the dogs. As well as being a huge help with our rescue dogs, Finn also helps with two volunteer clean up groups. We do little clean ups on Rawdon Billing and now also weekly in a group called friends of Nunroyd park – where he is very enthusiastic collecting rubbish and quite competitive trying to fill more bags than all the others.
Even after his initial hospital stay fighting the meningitis he has had quite a few further stays, due to his epilepsy and also lung infections. He is always bright and cheerful throughout. I wasn’t going to mention this but he has also been very brave over his father dying 19 months ago. He was brave at the funeral and walked forward and put a Xmas card he had already bought for his dad on his coffin (he was worried he couldn’t give it to him now) and then after he went around the funeral tea and charity gig with a bucket collecting for MacMillan. Finn was presented with his award at the Panathlon North Yorkshire Multisport Finals at Fulford School in York. Proudly holding his trophy, the 15-year-old commented: ‘Panathlon makes me feel very happy and excited. I’ve got my gold medals up in my room at home. His mum, Kim Knaggs, added: Panathlon has been fantastic for Finn. It allows him to shine, which isn’t always the case in the classroom of his disabilities. It allows him to show off, which he loves, of course! He struggles with normal schoolwork but with sport he can be the same as everyone else; in fact better!
When Finn was ill as a baby the doctors told me his body was essentially shutting down and there wasn’t much hope [of survival]. The experts later said they weren’t sure whether he would be able to walk. If only they could see him now, either at Panathlon competitions or booting a ball over the fence into our neighbour’s garden 10 times a day! Abby Webster, Finn’s PE teacher at St John’s School, added: He is a Panathlon veteran now and has been a fantastic leader at boccia and multisport events. He is also hugely competitive. Having sporting opportunities that anybody can access and being able to compete on a level playing field is a wonderful opportunity for him and all these children. We do have a school full of very competitive children so they particularly love these events.Watch Finn's video
Outstanding BraveryPaige Patching
In December 2014 Paige, then 15 years old and leading a normal life, suddenly noticed problems with her balance and co-ordination. She was diagnosed at this point with MS. Whilst this was a considerable blow at such a young age, the MS proved to be almost inconsequential compared to what happened next. Paige was first admitted to Sheffield Children’s Hospital (SCH) with gastro problems in February 2016. She was subsequently diagnosed with dysmotility of the gut and intestinal failure. The drugs she needed for this condition often exacerbated the symptoms of her MS and for the last two years Paige has gradually had her life on hold at a time when she should be just beginning to live it to the full. Often in isolation, so allowed limited visitors, this kind, compassionate, beautiful girl has been in constant pain daily. She has not eaten any real food for over a year and can barely tolerate the artificial feed that goes directly into her via tubes. And yet, she bears the pain of the feed to get her strength up to fight infections which have plagued her, particularly over the last year and which set her back on her road to recovery and to getting home. She has suffered from sepsis on numerous occasions and had three ICU admissions, one of which brought her very close to death. And yet she keeps smiling, puts up with the indignity of bed baths, bags and tubes that nobody would want, let alone a beautiful young lady at an especially sensitive stage of development.
One of Paige’s regular nurses says of her ‘It would have been so easy for Paige to give up each time treatment has failed her. And yet each time she has fought back and come back stronger. As a patient she often puts others before herself, sometimes to the detriment of her own condition, always thinking about how the younger patients might need us quicker or how short staffed we are, so she doesn’t want to push her buzzer for us when she really should. I really feel for Paige being in isolation so much too, it is hard for us to get time to do more than just her checks and medicines, but I really want to give her more time just to listen and chat. I have watched Paige support other patients with similar conditions coming in and out of the ward too, but she is the one who always remains behind. I don’t know how she has coped with that. She really is an inspiration. When I am having a tough day, I just think of Paige and my moans or worries are put into perspective. Patients like Paige are one of the reasons I love paediatric nursing.’ (Staff Nurse -Charlotte P)
Paige has clearly missed birthdays and Christmases at home and whilst she tried to keep up with her A Level work at first, she has had to put that to one side being so weak most days that to continue was impossible. All her potential is still there, bursting at the seams, but her body is not allowing her to blossom. Despite the medics trying everything they can think of to stop this vicious cycle, Paige is the one going through it on a daily basis and having her teenage years severely compromised. She has found it difficult to maintain contact with her school friends, being away from school for so long and them not living near the hospital. She has also sensed the grief of not being able to see as much of her grandparents as she would have liked because they haven’t been well enough to visit. And yet, she always tries to support others on the ward when she is well enough, to help other long term patients through their treatment. Paige has watched so many people come and go and yet she is the one who is still left there. The amount of times she has been starting on home leave days, ready for discharge, but then suddenly caught another infection and been back to square one are numerous. In February this year, Paige suffered her worst case of sepsis, resulting in another stay in ICU, this time for a long period; ventilated and frightened, her mental health as well as her physical health were deeply affected. But Paige, being the irrepressible source of strength she is, fought back again and is currently back persevering with the pain of feeding tubes, in the hope that she might be well enough to get home for a few hours next month to celebrate her 18th birthday at home with family and friends for a change. This beautiful girl has had to mature into a young woman in all the wrong kinds of ways, all she wants to do is to do ‘normal teenage things with my friends, go out with them and go to Alton Towers.’ At the moment, such things look a very long way off, but Paige will be putting up with the daily pain and indignities that have become common place in order to get there one day. It would be wonderful if she could somehow be given some acknowledgement of her courage, her perseverance against the odds and her strength of spirit. She deserves a lovely night out and some recognition of all she has been, and is still going through. We realise there are lots of other amazing children and young people out there but our Paige is very, very special.Watch Paige's video
George is a young man who was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour called a craniopharyngioma at the age of 8 years. I work as a Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. George has had several bouts of surgery to deal with this tumour. As a result of the tumour and the surgery, George has sustained considerable damage to his pituitary gland and hypothalamus, meaning that he needs multiple pituitary hormone replacement therapy to sustain his health. This includes daily injections of growth hormone, multiple tablets, an injection pump that delivers hydrocortisone and regular testosterone injections through puberty. George suffers with considerable fatigue as a result of his therapy, yet despite this, I am amazed at what he has achieved in his life so far.
After his diagnosis and surgery, George embarked on raising money for the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity. He has raised £27,500 by organising events for the hospital, including a fun run, where he organised the participation of 100 of his family and his friends, cake bakes for which he baked over 200 cakes, auctions where he managed to enlist television’s auctioneer James Lewis. He did the virtual stampede and managed to walk 70km and cycled 70km at the gym. He also helps out at events organised by the charity. As a result of his efforts he helped launch the Theo games run by the charity with Jessica Ennis. George has also advocated on behalf of the Children’s Hospital charity by raising awareness. George was one of the voices of the Sheffield Children’s Hospital/Radio Sheffield scanner appeal, helping to raise £500,000 for the hospital. As junior captain of his Golf Club, George has helped to organise charity events.
George is also keen to raise awareness of the challenges faced by young people coming to hospital and dealing with illness. He gave a presentation at the British Society of Endocrinology and Diabetes Conference 2015 in Sheffield to highlight ‘a patient’s journey’. I was there and there was not a dry eye in the room! He also spoke at the World Snooker Championship Ball, where he spoke of his journey and the fantastic work the hospital does. He followed that by speaking at the Winding Wheel in Chesterfield to students, parents and teachers on achieving through adversity. He also gives speeches to younger pupils in school assemblies to encourage them to study. George is an active member of the patient’s forum at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where his input is encouraged and he took part in the interviews for the new Chief Executive – he made a good choice! He is a supporter and member of the South Yorkshire branch of the Pituitary Foundation, ensuring that child and adult patients receive the best support with managing their condition. Despite the challenges George faces on a daily basis including incredible fatigue and managing his condition, George has performed well academically. George achieved GCSEs – 5 A* Maths, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, English Language and Spanish 2 A’s English Literature and Physics. He was awarded subject excellence in Maths and overall achievement in Spanish, Geography and English. He achieved 4 A’s in AS levels Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry and Physics. George is a school ambassador for Maths and ensures others will achieve well by tutoring Maths to GCSE students. George’s commitment to helping others and his ability to achieve great things despite the challenges he faces on a daily basis are inspirational. I am proud to have known George as his doctor and have great respect for him. I have watched him grow to become a fine young man who puts others first. George has done some amazing things and even when he is having periods of feeling low, he never feels sorry for himself and always puts others before him.Watch George's video
Group Award Winners
Group VotePACT (the Parents Association of Children with Tumours and Leukaemia)
For the past 40 years PACT has provided support to every family who is referred to the Oncology unit at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and whose child has cancer or leukaemia. We provide practical support by purchasing equipment for the ward, school room and clinic and for the community nurses who look after the children in their own homes. Every year we provide trips and treats for the children and their families and we own two caravans. This year it is our 40th Anniversary and we are very pleased to be able to mark this with a new £670,000 Day Care Centre at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, providing the best facilities possible to support the children and their families. We are funded by generous donations from the general public and our corporate sponsors, and amazing fundraising from families who have been supported by PACT – how they find the time considering what they are dealing with is truly remarkable.Watch PACT's video