But teenager Patrick Lindley has recovered from a serious car crash and the death of his father to win a place on his dream university course.
Patrick had to complete a third year in the sixth form at Ripon Grammar School as he came to terms with the impact of his own injuries and the death of his father Adrian.
He was just 12 and in his second year at the school when the car his dad was driving was involved in a serious collision. Patrick had to be resuscitated at the crash site before being airlifted to hospital by the Great North Air Ambulance.
“I was in hospital for three months followed by rehabilitation. I had broken bones but also a bleed on the brain. The brain injury was the most serious and has affected my memory and recall. I missed most of second year and was only in part-time for most of third year because I was still dealing with lingering damage,” explained Patrick, who lives in Ripon.
Mr Lindley, who was also badly injured in the crash, recovered and went on to complete a coast to coast bike ride for the GNAA.
Sadly, the family suffered another tragedy when, three years later, Mr Lindley was killed cycling to work at Dishforth Airfield, where he was in charge of the workshop.
“I was in the fifth year then and had to have a month off. School were great, very understanding about what I was going through and said any support I needed they would give me,” said Patrick, who went on to achieve four As, two Bs and four Cs in his GCSEs
“It helped to have school as something normal to look to and know I was going to see friends. Since then sixth form has been great. It’s been the most fun I’ve had at school because we’re all more mature and the teachers treat you more as an adult,” he added.
In spite of all the tragedy, Patrick achieved B grades in ICT and the extended project qualification and a C in maths in his A Levels, enough to secure his place to study computer science at Newcastle University.
“I’ve been working for this for a long time so I’m very pleased. I’m hoping to go into game design after university. My dad would have been happy that I’m doing something I enjoy.”