Admiration for Mildenhall students for overcoming adversity

Jessica Talbot (far right) with fellow students at Mildenhall College Academy

Jessica Talbot (far right) with fellow students at Mildenhall College Academy - Credit: Archant

Student Jessica Talbot has bounced back from injury - including eight months on crutches - to scoop a top result in her dance GCSE.

James Garry (far right) with fellow students at Mildenhall College Academy

James Garry (far right) with fellow students at Mildenhall College Academy - Credit: Archant

The 16-year-old, a pupil at Mildenhall College Academy, has been dancing for as long as she can remember, but a series of injuries threatened to scupper her promising career.

Fortunately for Jessica, with the support of her family and physiotherapy, she was still able to pursue dance at GCSE, pulling off the highest grade - a 9.

In total she achieved 11 GCSEs at grades 9-4, with grade 7s in both English and English Literature.

She said: “I couldn’t walk at all after the injury, but my family were really supportive and helped me and could see how much pain I was in and helped as much as they could. They always believed once I was back on my feet, I would be able to do dance.”

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Jessica, from Mildenhall, suffered a quad injury in 2015, followed by damage to her nerves in 2016 as a result of wearing pointe ballet shoes.

After the injury two years ago she was unable to walk and got around on crutches for eight months.

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There came a point when Jessica had just started GCSE dance that if she had not recovered enough by a certain time she would not be able to complete the course.

“I felt really disheartened when I heard that,” she said. “It’s quite difficult when you know what you want to do and have a passion and love for something and that gets taken away from you. You feel empty.

“There’s other things I enjoy doing. I play the saxophone and play in a local band, but that’s not the same as dance.”

Jessica has ambitions to go into choreography and teaching.

James Garry, 16, also stood out from this year’s cohort at Mildenhall College Academy for overcoming adversity.

Despite major surgery just before the exams, he managed to pull off 10 GCSEs at grades 9-4, with grade 9s in maths and physics.

After the operation on his leg in June, he was bound to a wheelchair for about eight or nine weeks.

He said: “I had my friends pushing me round the school and my sister would help.

“She was in sixth form and doing her A-levels and she would bring me into school and drop me off at reception and my friend would pick me up and take me round school for the day.

“The school, my friends and family have been quite good about it.”

James’ operation followed on from spinal surgery when he was eight. He had been walking incorrectly and there was strain on his knees.

The student, from near Mildenhall, said he is “fairly happy” with his GCSE results, and will go on to sixth form to study maths, physics and computer science.

Cain Shipp made the greatest progress out of all the students at Mildenhall College Academy despite suffering a bereavement during the exams.

Cain, 16, from Mildenhall, lost his uncle Bill Hickman to cancer in the middle of the exam period, but still managed eight GCSEs at grades 9-4, with a grade 7 in history and A* in Finance.

“I just got them [exams] over and done with,” he said. “I was offered another week, but I declined.”

He said it really was “close family and friends at school supporting me” that got him through it.

Cain will go on to study English literature, history and biology and has hopes to go on to law school.

Also, Michael Geary, who had to have a reduced timetable due to the pain he experienced from a long-standing medical condition, achieved nine GCSEs at grades 9-4.

Susan Byles, principal of Mildenhall College Academy, said: “When I consider everything that these young people were having to cope with I am full of admiration for the results they achieved. Their resilience and perseverance is second to none.

“Well-deserved congratulations go to all of our students!”

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