‘People like Josh are the unsung heroes’

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Caring Josh Leigh is an inspiration to others around him.

While many youngsters his age would struggle to cope with the demands of supporting ill family members, the 13-year-old schoolboy takes it all in his stride.

WINNER Josh Leigh, 13, from Cosham, who has won the overall achievement award for helping his family. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131988-1)

WINNER Josh Leigh, 13, from Cosham, who has won the overall achievement award for helping his family. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131988-1)

He regularly sits and chats with his great-grandfather Charles Gigg, 98, who has dementia – and was the rock by his dad Hylton’s side while he went through seven months of chemotherapy.

Hylton, 43, was diagnosed with a brain tumour three years ago after he had a fit.

Josh, of Cosham, Portsmouth, has been there for him and made the process far less traumatic.

Despite all of this, Josh gets up and goes to Springfield School, in Central Road, Drayton, Portsmouth, every day with determination, enthusiasm and pride.

It was for all of these reasons that Josh clinched the outstanding achievement award at The Pupil Oscars at The Kings Theatre, Southsea.

The event, which has been running since 2003, celebrates what students have achieved and overcome during the past academic year.

It’s supported by the Council of Portsmouth Students and the Portsmouth Youth Parliament.

Talking about what it felt like to scoop his award, Josh said: ‘I am shocked and amazed.

‘This will spur me on to keep working hard and do even more.

‘It’s given me more motivation and it’s nice to be rewarded for what I do.

‘I sit with my great-grandfather if my parents need a break from it.

‘I sit him back down, and help by talking to him.

‘I make sure my dad has his medication.

‘We have a lot of fun together and laugh a lot.

‘We’re very close.

‘I try to help because I see it as my duty – I don’t see any of it as a chore.’

Hylton said Josh had handled everything incredibly well and grown up a lot.

‘Josh didn’t ask for all of this to be put on him, but it’s matured him and he’s grown up a bit.

‘He’s always there to help and is always there for his granddad.

‘He kept me happy through my treatment.’

Josh’s proud mum Kate, 38, said: ‘I am delighted and so very proud of him.

‘It’s so nice that the schools recognise the work people like Josh do.

‘It keeps them going, especially when they know they are going to be rewarded.’

The other categories were; attendance, service to the community, overcoming difficulties, curriculum achievement and contribution to school life.

Awards for these were presented by Cllr Rob Wood, cabinet member for children and education, Stephen Kitchman, head of children’s social care and safeguarding and council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson.

Winners picked up a trophy and a certificate and Josh got £100 for being the winner of a special category.

His prizes were given to him by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Lynne Stagg.

Cllr Stagg said: ‘Josh was such a lovely lad and was so pleased to be getting his award.

‘He should be celebrated.

‘I taught at St Luke’s School – now Charter Academy – for 23 years and how some of the children came to school I don’t know, because of what they had to put up with at home.

‘People like Josh are the unsung heroes of our communities.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It was a really great show and I am really pleased for all the kids.

‘It was great to thank not only the children who try hard, but their families who support them and make sure they go to school every day.

‘Our future is all about education for the next generation.

‘If we are creating jobs in the city and Portsmouth’s youngsters don’t have the skills to fill those jobs there will be people outside who will come and take them.

‘I want them to be filled by Portsmouth youngsters.

‘It’s right we recognise all of those who make a huge effort.’

The prizes were donated by Portsmouth City Council and local businesses.

OVERCOMING DIFFICULTIES

BRAVE Donald Ogilvie has an artificial leg – but that doesn’t stop him going to school and doing his best.

The Mary Rose School pupil, pictured with mum Dawn and dad Andrew, was all smiles as he picked up the overcoming difficulties award.

Donald, of Beaconsfield Avenue, Cosham, had to have his left leg removed last year after he was struck down with pneumonia. But he bounced back and show teachers he wasn’t prepared to give up.

He now uses a wheelchair and a walking frame.

Proud dad Andrew, 46, said: ‘When he went back to school he was incredible. It was like he didn’t miss a thing. If it wasn’t for the school then I don’t think we would have got this far.’

CURRICULUM ACHIEVEMENT

TALENTED Karel Vrbik picked up the curriculum achievement award.

The 16-year-old, of Priory School, in Southsea, moved over from the Czech Republic about a year ago.

Since then he’s slotted in well and excelled in maths and physics.

He’s also a violinist and last year began seeking to take his music grade eight exam.

And he’s now won a scholarship to study on the Isle of Wight.

Speaking after getting his award, Karel said: ‘I am delighted because I didn’t really expect something like that, but I have worked very hard for it.

‘I have to thank all the people who have helped me.

‘It was a big surprise but I really liked it.

‘I feel like going to the Isle of Wight will be a new start.

‘England is nice.

‘All the people are really friendly. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be easy for people to accept me but they did and I thank them for it.’

CONTRIBUTION TO SCHOOL LIFE

PROUD Astle Nkomo was all smiles after she clinched her award in the contribution to school life category.

Astle, 11, of Somers Park Primary School, Somers Town, won because she’s been the head girl and part of the school’s council.

She helps out in the office and makes sure the younger children are looked after.

Astle said: ‘I am surprised and overjoyed and shocked.

‘I just enjoy what I do – I like making a contribution to school life.

Her target now is to get to school at 8am every morning so she can give out letters to the children during registration. She also wants to have her lunch earlier so she can give a helping hand.

ATTENDANCE

LOSING a parent would put some children off from going to school.

But Oasis Maria Parrin, eight, was determined to bounce back after the death of her mum Kerry Finch in February. Oasis, pictured with her dad Jason Parrin, hasn’t missed a day at Cliffdale Primary School since her mum died – and she is determined to keep working hard.

Oasis lives with her nan Jeannette Finch, 58, in Buckland because Jason works full-time as a train driver.

Jason said: ‘I am very proud of her – but I can’t take the credit for getting her up in the morning and on the bus to school.’

Jeannette said: ‘I am very proud of her.’

SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY

DETERMINED Caitlin Cawte hasn’t let a nut allergy get the best of her.

The 10-year-old pupil at Court Lane Junior School raises money for The Anaphylaxis Campaign, which supports people who are at risk of severe allergic reactions.

Last year Caitlin did a 15-mile bike ride which raised £941 and more recently she opened an allergy show in London after submitting an idea about ways children could get more involved.

She has now also become friends with others who have similar problems and shares her experiences with them.

Caitlin said: ‘I am shocked that I won.

‘I can’t stop smiling.’