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Grantham's Children of Courage honoured at Rotary awards





Remarkable youngsters, including a refugee, children with disabilities, young carers, and those impacted by family trauma, have been honoured for their efforts.

The 13th annual Children of Courage Awards, organised by the Rotary Club of Grantham Kesteven, was held at Walton Academy on Wednesday and saw five such incredible young people recognised with awards.

Rotary President Arthur Ambrose said: “For 13 years, we've been celebrating the absolutely amazing children and the difficulties they overcome, which can be tear-jerking and heartbreaking.

A number of youngsters were honoured for their accomplishments at the Children of Courage Awards. | Image: Daniel Jaines
A number of youngsters were honoured for their accomplishments at the Children of Courage Awards. | Image: Daniel Jaines

“They have overcome huge amounts of personal difficulties.”

David Kendrick, rotary district governor, added: “These children are all inspirational, they really are.

“They have to overcome such incredible difficulties, and they give selflessly to other people and learn at such a young age which is really incredible.”

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Here are the winners from the night:

Finlay Bamber

Finlay Bamber with his award. | Image: Supplied
Finlay Bamber with his award. | Image: Supplied

Finlay Bamber, a 15-year-old with Autism Spectrum Disorder, has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability since his diagnosis at the age of three.

Despite facing the challenges of relocating from the USA after the death of his father, Finlay embraced his return to Ambergate in September 2022.

Transitioning into a new class with a different timetable and classmates, Finlay has demonstrated remarkable maturity, even advocating for his needs by approaching staff, a significant achievement considering his communication challenges.

While Finlay engages with lessons in his own unique way, his sense of humour shines through daily interactions, often bringing laughter and joy to those around him.

Teacher Vicky Bond described Finlay as “a remarkably funny, kind and caring young man”.

She described it as a big achievement for Finlay to be at the awards ceremony itself, saying it was “real big progress for him”.

Finlay Bamber's mother Tracy and teacher Vicky Bond collecting his award from Rotary District Governor David Kendrick (left) and Grantham Mayor Councillor Mark Whittington. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Finlay Bamber's mother Tracy and teacher Vicky Bond collecting his award from Rotary District Governor David Kendrick (left) and Grantham Mayor Councillor Mark Whittington. | Image: Daniel Jaines

He has a particular passion for maths, impressing staff with his ability to solve complex equations.

“He's often seen asking staff in the playground really hard maths questions, but he always knows the answers,” said Vicky.

“We need to get a pen of paper or a calculator and he just comes out with me like that.”

Beyond his academic achievements, Finlay's infectious laughter and positive demeanour enriches the lives of everyone he encounters.

Despite the label of autism, Finlay's personality and spirit defy any singular definition, showcasing the depth of his character and the resilience that defines him.

“I'm extremely privileged to have him in my class and I believe that he enriches the lives of all who were with him. Autism does not define Finley but it does make him who he is,” said Vicky.

Polina Shkliaieva

Polina Shkliaieva and pastoral manager Sarah Watts collecting collecting their award from, from left, Rotary District Governor David Kendrick, Rotary Club Grantham Kesteven President Arthur Ambrose and Grantham Mayor Councillor Mark Whittington. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Polina Shkliaieva and pastoral manager Sarah Watts collecting collecting their award from, from left, Rotary District Governor David Kendrick, Rotary Club Grantham Kesteven President Arthur Ambrose and Grantham Mayor Councillor Mark Whittington. | Image: Daniel Jaines

Polina Shkliaieva, a Year 11 student at Priory Ruskin Academy, embarked on a unique journey to pursue her GCSE studies after being displaced from her home in Odessa, Ukraine, due to the conflict with Russia.

Despite facing uncertainty and upheaval, Polina's unwavering optimism, constant smile, and infectious energy have left a lasting impression on everyone at the school.

Her resilience and positive attitude in the face of adversity have earned her admiration from peers and teachers alike.

Pastoral manager Sarah Watts highlighted Polina's remarkable journey, originating from a family displaced by conflicts in Ukraine.

“It’s not been an easy journey either literally or metaphorically,” she said.

“Polina has faced challenges before the age of 15 which many of us, thankfully, will never have to face in our entire lives.”

“Aside from the worry and terror of your home being turned into a war zone, the uncertainty of the travel, changing living places three times, crossing borders on your feet for five hours, having to settle in an unfamiliar country in a family home provide obstacles that not everybody would be able to overcome.”

Despite facing numerous challenges at a young age, however, teachers said that Polina's resilience shines through.

“She faces the daily challenges of a teenager at school with a level of levity that both uplifts and inspires staff and students alike.

“She is a talented performer and dancer, a prefect at the academy, and has not only adjusted to the rigours of a new life, but thrived and taken on leadership roles.”

Polina's talents, leadership roles, and positive attitude serve as an inspiration to others, embodying qualities of resilience, determination, and commitment to personal growth.

The manager concluded by congratulating Polina on her well-deserved award and expressing hope for her future success.

“Working with Polina gives us a chance to learn from and observe the characteristics I hope all young people can embody within their lives.

“The ability to keep moving forward, when life tries to drag you back, the determination to hold your head high, when life tries to weigh you down and an unwavering commitment to being the best, most rounded and fulfilled person you can be.”

Liam Clark

Liam Clark, a 15-year-old student at West Grantham Secondary Academy, faced immense challenges when his mother fell ill with cancer in December 2022.

He was unable to attend the awards on Wednesday, but provided a statement to the Rotary Club.

Despite the devastating news of her terminal diagnosis and the difficult journey that followed, Liam found solace and support from his teachers, Macmillan nurses, friends, and girlfriend.

As his mother underwent treatment, Liam and his brother took on the responsibility of caring for her alongside their father.

Tragically, Liam's mother passed away just three days before Christmas, a time she cherished.

Despite the heartbreak, Liam and his family made the best of the holiday season.

“Mum loved Christmas, so the family made the best of it,” said Liam.

Despite his personal loss, Liam's teachers commend his resilience and determination, noting his focus on studies and preparation for GCSEs.

“I miss my mum so much; I know she would be proud of me,” said Liam.

Bella-Rose Fenton

Bella-Rose Fenton and teacher Kim Dolby collecting collecting their award from, from left, Rotary District Governor David Kendrick, Rotary Club Grantham Kesteven President Arthur Ambrose and Grantham Mayor Councillor Mark Whittington. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Bella-Rose Fenton and teacher Kim Dolby collecting collecting their award from, from left, Rotary District Governor David Kendrick, Rotary Club Grantham Kesteven President Arthur Ambrose and Grantham Mayor Councillor Mark Whittington. | Image: Daniel Jaines

Bella-Rose Fenton, a student at Walton Academy since September 2021, has faced significant challenges in her young life.

Bella-Rose, 13, selflessly prioritises caring for her mother and younger siblings at home, despite the activities and social engagements of her peers.

Her mother's battle with cancer has required frequent hospital visits, scans, and medical appointments, and Bella-Rose has been her primary source of care and support.

During crises, Bella-Rose effectively communicates her mother's needs to emergency services, ensuring she receives necessary attention and care.

Despite grappling with the loss of her grandfather, Bella-Rose's unwavering dedication to her family remains steadfast.

Her resilience and selflessness make her an exceptional role model and an absolute superstar in the eyes of those who know her.

Bella's teacher, Kim Dolby, said she was “a real trooper when it comes to defending her family and more importantly her mum”.

“Most people in this room can remember how difficult it was to navigate our way through the dreaded teenage years, but imagine having to grow up in a world where each and every day is an emotional and physical struggle, having to decide what is most important at the time and just roll with it.

“This is how Bella-Rose feels most days. She knows she needs to be at school. She knows she should be focused in lessons and give her best possible chance or give her the best possible chance to succeed. However, she often cannot tell herself away from her mum and the family.”

Despite the difficulties Bella-Rose faces, including navigating teenage years and balancing responsibilities, she continues to prioritise her family's well-being over her own academic pursuits.

The academy has made adjustments to support Bella-Rose, acknowledging her struggles and providing accommodations such as flexible arrival times.

“We know that when the time is right Bella-Rose will reengage and show the same amount of commitment and determination to her own studies and success,” said Kim.

Oliver Hunt

Oliver Hunt and his teacher Chloe Golland collecting their award from, from left, Rotary District Governor David Kendrick, Rotary Club Grantham Kesteven President Arthur Ambrose and Grantham Mayor Councillor Mark Whittington. | Image: Daniel Jaines
Oliver Hunt and his teacher Chloe Golland collecting their award from, from left, Rotary District Governor David Kendrick, Rotary Club Grantham Kesteven President Arthur Ambrose and Grantham Mayor Councillor Mark Whittington. | Image: Daniel Jaines

Oliver Hunt, an 11-year-old student at the Grantham Additional Needs Fellowship school, exemplifies resilience and determination in the face of adversity.

As a young carer, Oliver selflessly supports his family at home, demonstrating a caring nature that extends to his interactions with peers in the classroom.

Despite challenges, including changing schools, Oliver remains positive and committed to overcoming obstacles.

He actively engages in learning, always eager to acquire new knowledge and skills. Oliver's dedication to his education and his willingness to help others make him a valued member of the school community.

Supported by his family and loved ones, Oliver finds solace in family time at home and continues to thrive academically and personally.

His family takes pride in his achievements, reflecting his unwavering strength and resilience in navigating life's challenges.

Chloe Golland, Oliver's class teacher, fondly recalled his sense of humour, love for gaming and his eagerness to share his knowledge with others.

“He never ceases to make us laugh with his jokes and his fantastic sense of humour,” she said.

Chloe highlighted Oliver's resilience, noting his ability to overcome obstacles and his selfless nature as a young carer.

Despite challenges and changes in his life, Oliver maintains a positive attitude and continues to excel academically and personally.

“Oliver is truly a commendable young boy, and he always puts others before himself.

“He's a young carer at home and he's always there for his friends and his family. And Oliver continues to show a can-do attitude towards challenges and changes in his life.”

Chloe and Oliver's family are immensely proud of his achievements and look forward to supporting him in his future endeavours.

She concluded by acknowledging Oliver's deserving nature for the award and expressing gratitude to him.

It’s important to recognise young people and the accomplishments they’ve achieved

The awards were presented by rotarians and Grantham Mayor Coun Mark Whittington.

Coun Whittington praised the work of local schools, including Sandon and Ambergate under the Grantham Additional Needs Fellowship, in helping the children they cared for.

“It’s important to recognise young people and the accomplishments they’ve achieved, especially if they’ve fought against disadvantages in their lives,” he said.

Following a buffet, a welcome from Mr Ambrose and grace led by member Mary McKinley, the awards were presented to each nominee.

Winners received a certificate, a trophy, and a goody bag of treats from sponsors including the Treat Kitchen and Hawkens Gingerbread.



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