Meet Suffolk's most inspiring children and teachers
PUBLISHED: 17:21 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:21 11 July 2019
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An "exceptional" blind child and a boy paralysed from the waist down who "never fails to inspire and amaze his peers" have been named among the best and brightest in Suffolk's schools.
The Raising the Bar Awards were held at Wherstead Park near Ipswich to honour teachers, volunteers and young people in the county's secondaries and primaries who have gone above and beyond to achieve great things.
The ceremony was part of a scheme led by Suffolk County Council to raise achievement in education in the area, which has helped increase the number of schools judged to be "good" or "outstanding" and a rise in five-year-olds reaching a good level of development.
But it was the winners who really showed the best of what Suffolk has to offer with their tales of high achievement, often against some of the greatest of life's challenges.
They included Sidegate Primary School's Keziah McNeil, who is blind and has learned to read and write in Braille, and Manny Smiley - who has impressed everyone with taking part in school activities despite using a wheelchair due to a tumour on his spine.
Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children's services, education and skills at Suffolk County Council, said: "The Raising the Bar awards are a celebration of excellence in Suffolk education, and the perfect chance to recognise the outstanding work happening in schools and education settings across the county."
Former EADT and Ipswich Star editor Terry Hunt, who hosted the event, said: "I am extremely proud to host these awards as I have always been passionate about seeing young people thrive and achieve their best, which often cannot happen without the support and guidance of great local teachers and other dedicated individuals within our communities that want the best for our young people."
Sue Cook, executive director of people's services at Suffolk County Council, said: "With education results in Suffolk improving faster than those nationally, there is much to celebrate in education in the county."
The event also featured an inspirational interview with Hayley Long, an award-winning writer of teenage fiction and non-fiction who grew up in Suffolk.
Ms Long said: "It's so important to recognise and celebrate the achievements and talents of young people.
"It's a lovely thing for me to come back to my hometown and to get to meet such an inspirational group of children and teenagers. Suffolk can be proud!"
Inspirational Young Person of the Year Awards - Early Years and Primary
Winners - Ayan Omar, Sprites Primary Academy; Dylan Murray, East Bergholt CEVC Primary School; Keziah McNeil, Sidegate Primary School; Albie Compton, The Bridge School, Ipswich ; Manny Smiley, St Mary's Academy, Mildenhall
Inspirational Young Person of the Year Awards - Secondary
Winners: Leo Moss-Eccardt, Hillside Special School; Anya Ilczenko, Stour Valley Community School; Martha Cooper, Horringer Court School, Bury St Edmunds
Inspirational Young Person of the Year Awards - Post-16
Winners: Regan Partridge, Suffolk One, Ipswich; Joanna Brawn, Westley Middle School, Bury St Edmunds
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Inspirational Young Person of the Year Awards - Apprenticeships
Winners: Phoebe Vokes, Nova Training, Ipswich; Kayleigh Elmer, West Suffolk College, Bury St Edmunds; Carrie Donovan, Suffolk County Council
Business Supporting Ambition Award
Winner: Deborah Ball, Kinetic Science
Runners up: Richard Stewart, Student Life; Naomi Herbert, LV Insurance Ipswich
Excellence in Digital Strategy Award
Winner Kate Hayward-Brackenbury, St Mary's Primary School, Woodbridge
Special recognition: Oliver Clifford, Worlingham Primary School
Educational Leader and Setting of the Year Awards - Early Years
Winner: Michele Cole, Badingham Playschool
Runners up: Jenny Snape, Little Teapots Preschool, Chedburgh; Emma Howard, Meadow Brook Nursery, Saxmundham
Educational Leader and Setting of the Year Awards - Primary
Winner: Jamie White, Oulton Broad Primary School
Runners up: Joel Crawley and Oz Sparks, Woods Loke Primary School, Lowestoft; Roisin Wiseman, Wilby Primary School
Educational Leader and Setting of the Year Awards - Secondary
Winner: Helen Winn, Ipswich Academy
Runners up: Nick Froy, Newmarket Academy; Vanessa Whitcombe, Castle Manor Academy, Haverhill