A talented student has been recognised for her academic success and tireless voluntary work with a prize given to commemorate a politician who championed education.
Courteney Ayre, a pupil at Apollo Studio Academy in Peterlee, is the fifth winner of the annual Lord Glenamara Memorial Prize, given in memory of former Deputy Prime Minister and North East MP Ted Short.
Education Secretary Justine Greening presented Courteney with the award at a reception held at Imperial College London and confirmed that the Year 12 student will now undertake a two-day work experience programme at the Department for Education’s offices in London.
After hearing that she had been selected as the stand-out candidate from entrants in Years 11 and 12 across the North East, aspiring primary school teacher Courteney paid tribute to the work of organisations such as the Durham-based Bridge Young Carers project, which she has been involved with.
She had previously impressed judges with her academic and extra-curricular achievements, which include gaining 11 GCSEs at A and B grade, mentoring new students by assisting Apollo staff and attending promotional events to share positive opportunities and experiences.
Reacting to her award, Courteney said: “I feel highly honoured to be nominated for, and subsequently chosen, to receive this outstanding award.
“If it wasn’t for the tireless effort put in by my teachers, family and friends, I would still be shy, and therefore unable to even be considered for an award like this.
“I feel very grateful that I was introduced to The Bridge Young Carers Project and would like to use this award to highlight how important services like these are to young people that are living in a caring role.
“It relieves them of a lot of extra stress, thus allowing them to pursue their education to a higher and more beneficial standard.
“I hope to continue supporting the links between education and supportive groups once I become an educator myself.”
Nine runners up for the award were also named by judges.
Ms Greening said: “There were so many excellent entrants put forward for this year’s prize and they should all be celebrated.
“However, having read Courteney’s nomination, it is clear why she stood out - Courteney should be proud of her many achievements.
“Getting good grades is vital and it is equally important that pupils leave school with the skills and confidence needed to get on in life.
“Courteney has demonstrated these qualities in abundance and used them to have a hugely positive impact on her school and the local community.
“I’m sure she will be a fantastic teacher and I wish her all the best for the future.”