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Pupil excels in spite of illness

A Dover college student has battled a rare form of cancer to win a top award, reports Sarah Shenker

A 17-year-old from Dover, who suffers from a rare form of cancer, has been named as one of the best pupils in the country.

Clare Wilson, a pupil at Dover college, was one of 23 students honoured on Thursday night by the Oxford, Cambridge and Royal Society for Arts (OCR) exam board during its fifth annual Recognising Achievement awards ceremony in London.

The awards are given to outstanding students of all ages who have demonstrated academic excellence, or who have shown particular flexibility, dedication or commitment in completing GCSEs, A-levels or vocational courses.

Clare was diagnosed with cancer of the neck at 14. She attended extra lessons and studied during car journeys to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London for treatment.

She passed eight GCSEs, gaining mostly As and Bs, and was presented with her award by Fiona Bruce, the newsreader and TV presenter.

"It was hard for me to keep up with the coursework as I spent so much time in hospital," said Clare, who is in remission. "The nurses thought I was mad when I sat in bed completing my maths work over Christmas."

She was nominated for the award by Stephen Thomas, Dover College exams officer.

He said: "Clare completed her study schedule without help and without complaint, despite enduring much personal suffering. She is a very brave girl."

For the second year running a pupil from Northgate special school in Northampton received an OCR award.

Victoria Gore-Lock, 16, has special needs and hearing difficulties and only learned to talk after she started at the school in 1996.

She can now lip-read and use sign language, and has gained six entry-level qualifications, which are designed for students unlikely to achieve a grade at GCSE.

Victoria is on a supported learning course at Northampton College, where she hopes to complete a national vocational qualification in childcare.

Mike Trundley, Northgate's assistant head, praised her grace under pressure. "Vicky has been incredibly helpful to other pupils. She helped to calm angry teenagers and sometimes seemed as if she was an additional member of staff."


* Lifelong learning category: Simon Price, Joan Flood and Sandra Jones

* Vocationally-related category: Natalia Azatjan, Danielle Davis and Jane Ellis

* Skills for life category: Paul Bannon, Victoria Gore-Lock and Michael Gray

* The GCSEGNVQ category: Claire Hill, George Hunter, Joanna Wilson and Clare Wilson

* NVQ category: Sarah Bryden, Alan MacLennan, Fiona Musgrave and Suzana Bylykbashi

* IT category: Ian Jenkins, Bettina Lindsay and Lawrence Thompson

* ASA2 and VCE category: Ian Runacres, Ella Wells and Mark Woods

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