A BRAVE Hartlepool teenager has shot to the top in sport - using the words of his tragic mum as his driving force.
Jack Woodward, 13, never forgot the message from his mother Helen, 51, before she lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.
She urged her three children: “Please, go on and drive yourselves forward.”
Ever since his mum died on December 23 last year, Jack has become a sporting force to be reckoned with.
He won three player of the year trophies for Greatham Football Club.
He became an integral part of the Hartlepool Schools FA team, winning one trophy and finishing runners-up in a tournament in Southport.
He was on a trial with Sunderland Football Club this week.
He smashed the 800 metres record at English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College.
And he raised more than £2,000 in his mum’s memory when he and his cousins ran a 10-mile race in February, hours after he’d played 90 minutes for Greatham FC.
Proud dad Jeff Woodward, 39, said: “He is a true inspiration to me and everyone that knows him.
“He found solitude in his sport. He dedicated himself to getting fitter and stronger.”
And Jack himself told the Hartlepool Mail: “I just wanted to make my mam proud. I have used drive and determination to do her proud.”
Helen first realised something was wrong this time last year when she began feeling pain while she was on holiday in Taunton, in Somerset.
Doctors advised her to go to hospital when she got home. Tests at the University Hospital of North Tees found a tumour in her pancreas.
Six weeks later, a secondary cancer was found in her liver.
Doctors decided on chemotherapy but then she developed diabetes and when that was brought under control, she was sent for more chemotherapy. A day later, she developed septicaemia.
“She was a fighter and she fought that off,” said Jeff, a shipping clerk for a company at the North Gare.
But soon after, Helen lost her brave fight with cancer, leaving behind Jeff, Jack and her two other children - Jack’s twin sister Emma Louise, and Rachael, 10.
Jeff, from Durham Street in Hartlepool, said: “We were as honest as we could be with Helen’s illness. She was always talking to the children and saying ‘please, go on and drive yourselves forward’.”
Jeff has nominated his son for a Hartlepool Mail Sports Award. He said: “It is not just because he is my son, but because he is an inspiration to me and others. In the last year he has seen his mother lose her battle with cancer, but still go on and become a fantastic athlete in his own right.”
A string of impressive entries have already been received for the awards but we want more.
There are 13 categories to choose from, covering all aspects of the sporting world.
We want to honour the heroes who do our town proud at all standards of contest, from the international arena to grass roots competition. Here are the categories
Team of the Year;
Sportsperson Special Achievement Award;
Disabled Sports Person Award;
Disabled Team of the Year;
Contribution to Disability Sports Award;
Sports Official/Referee Award;
Coach of the Year Award;
Unsung Hero Award or Volunteer/Young Leader Award;
Club of the Year Award;
Lifetime Achievement Award;
Sports Personality of the Year Award;
Young Sports Personality of the Year Award;
To nominate, fill in the form HERE
The closing date for entries is September 13.