A* student determined to return after breaking her back

Jenny Unwin and friends.
Jenny Unwin and friends.
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Collecting her GCSE results at school represented a major milestone for one student who has endured a terrible summer.

Just weeks after she finished her exams Ripon Grammar School pupil Jenny Unwin was involved in a cycling accident which left her with a broken back.

Oliver Sapier

Oliver Sapier

The 16-year-old from Burton Leonard, who had been riding back home from her job in a garden centre, has been left in hospital where she undergoing three months of rehabilitation.

Her father drove her to the school yesterday and she was able to celebrate achieving outstanding results. She achieved six A*s and five As and is looking forward to studying four A-levels after Christmas. Jenny said: “I tried to forget about the results over the summer, which was easy because I’ve had so much to do. I’m still uncertain about what to take at A-level as things have changed because of my accident but I’m definitely coming back.”

Headmaster Martin Pearman said: “We will do everything we can to support Jenny in her A-levels and are very keen that she does as well as she possibly can.

“She achieved some extremely good results in her GCSEs, is a very determined character and has a lot of support from family and friends so I am sure she will go on to do very well.”

Elsewhere schools have hailed the work of students who have overcome adversity to achieve exam success. Oliver Sapier spent the first two years of his life in hospital and has battled with a debilitating health condition ever since. But yesterday the Leeds teenager was celebrating after passing 10 GCSEs. Oliver, who is a pupil at the Grammar School at Leeds, picked up three A*s, six As and 2 Bs. He said he was “overwhelmed” with his results.

He added: “My school years have been difficult because I have had so much time off due to illness, but I was determined to do well in my GCSEs. I have worked really hard and had no social life for the last six months but it has paid off.” A chronic bowel condition means he is in constant pain and takes a raft of medications a day. He is also fed intravenously overnight five times a week, although he is hoping to reduce the feeds.

He says a turning point came last year when he trained on his own for the Big Leeds Bike Ride.

When he completed the 100km ride from Roundhay in Leeds to York and back, raising just under £5,000 for the Leeds Children’s Hospital Appeal, it gave his confidence a huge boost. The teenager, from Alwoodley, said: “I thought to myself enough is enough now, I want to prove that I’m no different to anyone else. I have done that and today is a dream come true.”

Fulneck School in Pudsey’s learning support unit helped Johnny Marsden – who is dyslexic – pass ten GCSEs with one A*, five As, two Bs and two Cs. Keiron McMahon who has Asperger’s Syndrome and is dyslexic, and was told by a previous school he would be unlikely to gain an E at English – achieved Cs in English Language and English Literature.

Nooruldeen Al-Asali has celebrated achieving 9 A*s and an A grade in yesterday’s GCSEs having only arrived into the United Kingdom from Iraq in 2009.

He faced further disruption as he joined Silverdale School in Sheffield in his year eight, following the closure of Abbeydale Grange School.

Speaking about his results yesterday he said: “I was anxious about my results, especially English, but I still achieved an A*.

“I am going to study sciences and maths in the sixth form. My ultimate aim is to go on to study medicine at university.”