Honours for inspiring Sam and Sidra

Percival Whitley Educational Trust winner Sidra Ilyas, aged eleven, at Savile Park Primary School, Halifax.

Percival Whitley Educational Trust winner Sidra Ilyas, aged eleven, at Savile Park Primary School, Halifax.

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Two youngsters who have achieved much while coping with challenges in their lives have received educational awards.

Savile Park Primary School, Halifax, pupil Sidra Illyas and Bowling Green Primary School, Stainland, pupil Sam Whiteley - both in Year 6 - have been awarded the Percival Whitley Educational Trust Primary School Award for 2016, recognising their outstanding personal achievements.

Sam Whiteley aged eleven, a pupil at Bowling Green School, Stainland, winner of the Percival Whitley Award.

Sam Whiteley aged eleven, a pupil at Bowling Green School, Stainland, winner of the Percival Whitley Award.

Sidra, 11, has permanent, profound, bilateral, sensorineural hearing loss and uses British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate with others, with some help from hearing aids and lip-reading - but has a positive attitude to life that has led her to become a mentor to other deaf children.

Her headteacher Karen Lomas said: “Sidra is a true ambassador for both Savile Park and for the deaf community, and is a shining example of how being different does not prevent you from getting the most out of life. She will be hugely missed when she moves onto secondary school where I am sure she will tackle new situations and challenges in her usual cheerful and positive way.”

Sam, also 11, lost his mum when he was just eight, and although there are plenty of times when he feels her loss most keenly has displayed resilience and determination, at times chanelling his emotions about her death into some powerful pieces of writing.

His headteacher Chris Booth said: “Not only is Sam a shining example academically, but he is a true friend to his classmates and always ready to lend a hand to someone in difficulty. We are exceptionally proud of Sam and are delighted his remarkable progress, in spite of the loss he has endured, is be recognised in this way.”

Chairman of the Trust, Leyland Smith, said: “The aim of the award at this point in the year is to enable the youngster chosen to be recognised as a beacon of achievement within his or her own school community before moving onto secondary school. 

“The determination and courage shown by both Sidra and Sam in coping at such an early age with the personal challenges they have experienced is a valuable role model for all children.  They are very special young people who deserve recognition for all that they have achieved.”