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Stratford celebrates Children of Courage at Rotary awards event





THERE was a chance to remember a dedicated Stratford student this week at an awards event that recognises how children face hardships, challenges and adversity – and keep smiling.

Stratford Rotary Club Children of Courage Awards. Photo: Mark Williamson H38/10/21/8871. (52161344)
Stratford Rotary Club Children of Courage Awards. Photo: Mark Williamson H38/10/21/8871. (52161344)

The Children on Courage Awards, which are organised by the Rotary Club of Stratford-upon-Avon, asks schools in the town to nominate a positive student that they feel deserves some recognition.

And on Monday (11th October) guests gathered for lunch, alongside Rotarians, at the Double Tree Hilton to hear about five children, who were all worthy winners.

While four children were present to collect their awards, sadly one winner had to be recognised posthumously – Callum Haden was in Year 11 when he died in March from a brain tumour.

The Stratford-upon-Avon School student, who had been working towards his GCSEs, was described by staff as a “positive student, always smiling, with a genuine love of learning even when poorly”.

They added: “His tragic loss hit many students and staff, which in itself is a tribute to how he genuinely touched the lives of so many people.”

Stratford Rotary Club Children of Courage Awards. Photo: Mark Williamson H38/10/21/0120. (52161338)
Stratford Rotary Club Children of Courage Awards. Photo: Mark Williamson H38/10/21/0120. (52161338)

Callum had been nominated for an award last year, but unfortunately Covid forced the cancellation of the event.

Abi Attwood, one of the college leaders, presented the award to Callum’s mum, Alison Ballinger, who now works at the school.

Mrs Attwood said: “He was a model student in every sense of the word; always courteous and happy to help any student in any way he could.

“Callum was also humorous – he made a joke about everything.”

In March – just a day before Callum died – the school held a wear a hat day and raised £1,500 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

“We were able to celebrate him for a day, but sadly Callum passed away on 28th March,” Mrs Attwood continued. “We will have the same day again next year and will keep Callum’s memory alive.”

Stratford Rotary Club Children of Courage Awards. Photo: Mark Williamson H38/10/21/0124. (52161341)
Stratford Rotary Club Children of Courage Awards. Photo: Mark Williamson H38/10/21/0124. (52161341)

There had also been tragedy in the life of Ronald Mumford, who was nominated by Welcombe Hills School.

Ronald was a young carer for his mum, who also had a brain tumour, until she sadly died in February 2019.

Sam Inglefield, from the school, said Ronald went to live with an aunt and uncle, but being away from community that helped him meant things didn’t work out and he moved to a foster home.

“Ronald now spends time at his carers playing games, doing his homework and going out on trips, living the childhood he missed out on as a young carer,” Mrs Inglefield said. “Despite the adversity he has faced, Ronald is maturing into a wonderful young man who we are all very proud of.”

Over at King Edward Sixth School, Ben Walters was nominated.

Headmaster Bennet Carr said: “Ben has overcome many medical challenges in his life, but that’s not why he’s getting an award today – it’s the approach he has to life which defines him and which defines why he should be receiving an award today.”

Ben, who has aspirations to pursue a career in medicine, was described as hard working and committed. As well as volunteering at the British Heart Foundation shop, he participated in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, acted in the school’s recent production of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and is a talented musician.

Stratford Rotary Club Children of Courage Awards. Photo: Mark Williamson H38/10/21/8886. (52161359)
Stratford Rotary Club Children of Courage Awards. Photo: Mark Williamson H38/10/21/8886. (52161359)

Mr Carr added: “All of that is very impressive, but the reason why he is here is because you will never, ever come across him when he is not smiling.”

Lastly, Stratford Girls' Grammar School nominated twins Aparajita and Arundhati Gupta, girls who have excelled academically and thrived socially, despite the challenges of Covid and the long illness and eventual loss of their mother, who passed away in October 2020.

Karen Steele, from SGGS, said: “What’s really remarkable about them is that they have continued to excel – they are brilliant at everything.

“They have also continued to thrive in terms of friendships and the extra things that they do – Aparajita is a fantastic poet and has won various awards and has been shortlisted for Warwickshire Young Poet Laureate.

“If there were two words I would use to describe these young ladies, it would be dignity and compassion.”

Prior to handing out the awards, which were sponsored by Knights Fine Jewellery of Wood Street, Stratford, special guest David Moorcroft, said: “The word today is courage and all of these young people have shown courage, as have the people who have supported them.”

The former Olympian and 5,000m world record holder added: “Some of the most deep-rooted happiness you’ll ever feel is when you show courage; when you face adversity head-on and say it’s not going to beat me. The pleasure and satisfaction you get in overcoming obstacles is huge.”



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