A young lad who told his little brother ‘You don’t need to worry mate, I will do the worrying for both of us’ after receiving the news he had been diagnosed with cancer for a second time has received an award for his bravery in the face of the illness. Lewis Smith, a Year 11 pupil at Giles Academy, was among five winners of the Children of Courage Awards organised by the Rotary Club of Boston and Rotary Club of Boston St Botolph, held at Boston West Golf Club on Monday.
He was joined by Kayleigh Tuczek for her work supporting her mother who has terminal cancer while studying for her GCSEs and a college course; Kelsey Ingamells, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and is currently on the transplant list for a new lung, but still manages to keep up with all her studies; her sister Ella-Louise Ingamells who supports Kelsey and her younger brother Toby who, at the age of three, also has the same condition, along with the rest of the family; and Daniel Crewe, who has overcome many health difficulties including limited functionality, multiple shunts as a result of hydrocephalus and a stroke still keeps a positive attitude and shows great courage.
Lewis suffers from Ruthmund Thompson Syndrome, a condition which leads to a wide range of medical issues but most seriously an increased risk of cancer.
This is the second time Lewis has won the award.
He first got cancer at the age of eight, leading to the loss of a leg and missing a lot of school - however, those attending the event were told his disability had not stopped him from taking part in a variety of sports including football, skiing and trampolining.
His leg, first replaced by a prosthetic has been exchanged for a blade.
Sadly, Lewis, at the age of 15, recently had a second diagnosis of cancer - this time in his elbow - and again doctors have had to remove that part of his arm.
Lewis could not attend the ceremony on Monday due to an infection following the procedure, but head of Year 11 at the Giles Andrew Castley collected the award on his behalf.
Speaking to those attending Mr Castle said he had been a ‘pleasure to teach’.
He said: “Lewis is the strongest person I know, and has an almost enlightened view of the world. He is remaining strong in the face of this upcoming challenged and I think is best summarised in his comments to his eight-year-old brother. Once Lewis found out his cancer had returned he asked his parents can I put my brother to bed, he was heard to tell him ‘you don’t need to worry mate, I will worry for the both of us.
“He is a truly brave individual who doesn’t seem phased by this.”
In testimony to the young boy’s sporting accumen, Mr Castley relayed a story of a school skiiing trip which Lewis had attended, saying: “The ski instructor didn’t believe Lewis had one leg until he fell over, and Lewis went one way, and his leg went the other.”
Mr Castley told those attending that Lewis always tried to go to school, and instead of giving up his education due to his illness he had also agreed to repeat a year of school to catch up.
l Fourteen-year-old Kelsey also could not attend the event in person after her health deteriorated in the weeks leading up, but joined her family there via Facetime from her hospital bed at Queen’s Medical Centre, in Nottingham.
Kelsey was born with Cystic Fibroses, which sees her face a number of challenging symptoms affecting her body. The Haven High pupil has been on medication throughout most of her young life to control the symptoms, however, as she gets older her lung function is deteriorating.
She is currently on the transplant waiting list at Great Ormand Street Hospital in London, however, it has not been possible to carry this out due to her ill health.
Pastoral team leader at the academy, Ronda Ironmonger, told those at the meeting that Kelsey ‘does not wallow in self-pity’ despite her illness, which can see her spend at least two out of every six to eight weeks at QMC.
Kelsey has set up her own blog called ‘Breathe Easy’ which she shares with other young people, helping to inspire and advise them on dealing with their own illnesses.
She added that: “Many young people would see this illness and hospital stays as a good excuse not to complete school work, however, not in Kelsey’s case. She keeps up with her school work even when not attending the academy and is constantly requesting more work to be sent either to her home or the hospital where she has tutors. She is always setting herself goals and is ambitious.”
Comments from hospital staff and teachers read out by Ronda reinforced that school was one of Kelsey’s ‘main priorities’.
They said she had a ‘fantastic attitude and work ethic’, who despite having a 50 per cent attendance rate, was working at the same rate as others in her class, and often completed work before her peers.
Following the event, Kelsey told The Standard: “I am very grateful for this award, without Haven High academy and the QMC school I would not have been nominated for this award and feel very honoured for it.”
l Sister Ella-Louise, 12, was described as a ‘real support’ for her family, helping her sister with both the good and bad times, helping her brother with his physio and generally supporting her parents in coping with the difficulties life has thrown their way.
Ronda said: “Sometimes we tend to focus all our attentions on those that are ill, and not those that just have to get on with life, and the impact that illness can have on a family as a whole.
“Ella copes with the challenges she has faced so far in life very well, she is a caring student and overwhelmingly proud of her family, often talking about them in high esteem. She holds many admirable qualities and works hard at school and outside of it.”
Guests were also told that Ella has made a success of schoolwork, as well as being committed to both netball and football training.
They said Ella ‘never grumbles’ she just gets on with it.
Ella said she was really happy to have won the award and felt ‘overwhelmed’ by the nomination.
Dad Nick said he and mum Jasia were ‘really proud’ of the girls’ achievements.
“We take each day as it comes,” he said, calling the awards ‘absolutely brilliant’.
l Kayleigh Tuczek, said she was shocked by her nomination after spending the last five years completing her GCSEs and a course at Boston College - all while supporting her mum after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2013.
The illness has taken its toll on the family, even leading to mum Linda splitting with her partner just before Kayleigh was due to do her GCSEs,
Kayleigh was praised for taking on an ‘even greater’ role at home taking care of both mum and her younger brother.
She went on to attain seven GCSE C grades including English and Maths.
She helps her mum attend chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions in Lincoln and Nottingham and is learning to drive, she does chores and is taking part in a college course to become a professional.
Liz Pernown, from Boston College, called her ‘one of the most responsible young people I have ever met’.
The inspirational youngster said the ‘support from friends and family’ and listening to music had helped pull her through the bad times.
l Daniel Crewe’s class teacher Hannah Underwood said his ‘resilience, determination and unending positivity’ had lead to him becoming ‘an extroardinary and truly inspirational young man’.
Daniel, eight, has overcome a number of health issues in his short life but even from a young age he has remained brave and positive.
He has had countless operations, including 15 on his brain.
He has suffered meningitis and the outlook has often looked bleak - with medical professionals once thinking it might be unlikely that he would recover his speech or eat orally.
However, Danel has defied the odds and is now starting to put words together again to communicate. He no longer eats through a pump feed but enjoys all food – especially mum’s home cooking.
Hannah told guests: “Anyone who knows Daniel, will tell you how much of a chatterbox he is, he’s smiley and cheeky and absolutely loves his food.
“Daniel has shown great courage at all times of his recovery. Despite all he has had to endure he has always had a smile on his face.”
Daniel himself got into the action, with a shout of “yeah” halfway through the event.
l All those awarded were praised by members of the Rotary clubs, with District Governor Chris Davies saying: “It’s a real privilege to recognise these children and what they have achieved.
“Words like resilience have been mentioned, inspiring and overcoming the odds. Rotary is very much about the community and seeing how people are managing to overcome the difficulties they face is something we want to recognise.”
Mayor of Boston Coun Brian Rush said: “I have not had an experience like today before. I didn’t know Boston had this sensitive side to it and I feel privileged to be here.”