Award for brave teenager

WHILE many teenagers were thinking about computer games and football teams, brave Tom Duncan was fighting for his life.Struck down by a little known condition, the youngster spent three months in hospital, undergoing several major operations, which left his life hanging in the balance.

WHILE many teenagers were thinking about computer games and football teams, brave Tom Duncan was fighting for his life.

Struck down by a little known condition, the youngster spent three months in hospital, undergoing several major operations, which left his life hanging in the balance.

But instead of a gentle recuperation on returning to his Suffolk home, Tom wasted no time returning to his big passion - the Sudbury Sea Scouts.

Now his voluntary work with scouts and cubs has earned the teenager, from Glemsford, near Sudbury, a prestigious award and completed a remarkable turnaround - just four years after he contracted Henoch Schonlein Purpura which causes the body to attack its own blood vessels.


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His proud mother Beverley was last night delighted with her son's achievements.

She said: “Tom was diagnosed with vascalitis disease, which is when your immune system goes into overdrive.

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“He was in hospital for four months, had three major operations and was on a life support machine. He is now on medication for the rest of his life.

“But within 24 hours of being out of hospital, he was back at the sea scouts. He was in a wheelchair, he couldn't even walk or put on his own shoes.

“He still has good and bad days, but four years ago doctors were deciding whether to take him off the ventilator and now he is at university. We are immensely proud of what he has achieved.”

Tom, 18, scooped the prestigious Regional Millennium Volunteer of the Year sports award for his work with the sea scouts and other groups in the Sudbury area.

The youngster has devoted much of his spare time to teaching young people to kayak and sail - often travelling hundreds of miles - as part of the Government's Millennium Volunteers scheme, which gives people the chance to put something back to their community and earn a nationally-accredited award.

Tom, who is now studying for a masters degree in civil engineering at Swansea University, said: “I just wanted to put something back into something I received a lot of support from myself.”

His mother added: “He is just so determined and I think that is why he has done so well with the sea scouts. Even when he was going into theatre, and we didn't know whether he was going to pull through, I remember him saying 'don't worry mum, I'll see you in a few hours'.”

Anyone who would like to know more about the Millennium Volunteers scheme should contact 01473 744187.

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