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The Corporation

Posted: 16/03/23

Awards for brave students Bobby and Molly

West Nottinghamshire College students Bobby Cheney and Molly Canning have been honoured at an annual celebration of inspirational and brave young people in Mansfield.

  • Bobby and Molly were proud recipients of Courage Awards.
  • Bobby (second left) and Molly (second right) pictured with college staff Pam Upton and Dale Shirtliffe.
  • Bobby receives his engraved plaque from Rotary Club president Karen Johnson (first left) and civic citation from Mansfield Mayor Andy Abrahams (first right), joined by Pam Upton.
  • Molly receives her engraved plaque from Rotary Club president Karen Johnson (first left) and civic citation from Mansfield Mayor Andy Abrahams (first right), joined by Dale Shirtliffe.
  • Molly (back row, left) and Bobby (stood first right) pictured with the other Courage Awards recipients, joined by local dignitaries.

They were amongst 13 children and young people across the district to be commended at the Mansfield Rotary Courage Awards.

Now in its 32nd year, the event was hosted at Portland College, Mansfield, in front of the recipients’ proud family members, teachers, dignitaries, Rotarians and sponsors.

The recipients were recognised for “exemplifying moral and spiritual courage in the face of personal adversity and difficulty” after being nominated by their school, college or training-provider.

At an emotional lunchtime ceremony on Tuesday 14 March, more than 100 guests heard moving tributes from teachers and support staff before seeing each nominee receive an engraved silver plaque from the Rotary Club’s president Karen Johnson and a framed civic citation from the Mayor of Mansfield, Andy Abrahams.

Bobby was nominated by his personal tutor, early years teacher Cath Barker, who felt he deserved recognition for overcoming his fear of making friends, and flourishing on his childcare course and maths and English lessons.

The 19-year-old, who is studying the Level 1 Beginners Award in Caring for Children, enrolled after previously attending a specialist school with very small class sizes and had to adjust to being in a class of more than 20 students at the college.

He is the only male in the group, but has coped extremely well with this and has become a well-respected peer within his class.

Bobby had a difficult start to his education and early life, having experienced severe bullying and difficulties controlling his behaviour, which led to his exclusion from school. However, he was determined to make a fresh start at college and be successful in his studies.

He was elected student representative for his group and has attended all ‘learner voice’ meetings and reported back to fellow students. He also puts great effort into his course assignments and strives to stay up-to-date with all his work.

Furthermore, he has been nominated for Star of the Week on more than one occasion for being helpful, supportive and focused. Aided by a learning support assistant in his lessons, Bobby is becoming more independent with each passing week.

Cath said: “Bobby used to be very anxious and nervous about certain aspects of college, but this is no longer an issue for him. His organisational skills have improved dramatically, which has eased his anxiety to be almost non-existent.

“Bobby was one of the first in his group to attend an early years setting for his work placement and has made a fantastic start.”

His ambition is to be a teaching assistant at a special needs school, maybe focusing on maths – his favourite subject at college – or art. Bobby enjoys sport, particularly dodgeball, and playing computer games.

Stepping up to collect his award, Bobby was introduced by senior learning support assistant Pam Upton, who shared his heart-warming story on behalf of Cath, who unfortunately was unable to attend.

Pam added: “As a member of the additional learning support team, I met Bobby when he started college in September, and I would like to thoroughly endorse what Cath has said. It has been a privilege to watch how Bobby has grown in confidence and developed his knowledge while at college.

“After such an amazing start, I am sure that Bobby will achieve his goal of being a teaching assistant and mentor to young people and will be an asset to whichever school he goes to. We are very proud of what he has achieved, and I hope he will be equally proud of himself.”

Resilient Molly was nominated by drama teacher Dale Shirtliffe for her positivity, despite the challenges that life throws at her.  

The 17-year-old, who is studying BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma in Performing Arts Practice, says drama has helped her a lot and she hopes to progress to university or drama school, and “go on to make a name for myself in the industry.”

Molly has been a young carer for her mother for several years, including through the pandemic.

“She very rarely allows what is going on at home to affect her attitude in college, even though she has had nights of very little sleep, trips to hospital, and constant worry about the safety of her mum,” explained Dale.

“She also suffers quite significantly with dyslexia, which caused her some problems throughout her time at school.

“This resulted in her not wanting to attempt to pass her GCSE English in her first year at college, but after a lot of thought and contemplation for her future, she made the decision to attend GCSE classes in her second year and aim to pass the exam.

“This is in addition to studying her main college course, adding to her already full workload and home commitments. Yet she has approached it with a positive attitude and a huge smile throughout the majority of this difficult process.

“Molly’s biggest asset is her positivity. When meeting her you would not know the toll her home life can take. She is an inspiration for the way she confronts life, in the face of an incredibly difficult situation, with such infectious positivity.

“She never complains and is fiercely independent in how she supports her mum at home, her friends in college, and all those who come into contact with her. She is mature beyond her years and has already developed into a considerate, caring woman.

“Considering all that Molly deals with on a daily basis, she is an absolute pleasure to teach and she produces consistently high-level performances that inspire those around her.”

Molly, whose favourite song is I Ain’t Worried by One Republic, enjoys Western horse riding and dance.

Paying tribute to the 13 award winners, Rotary president Karen said: “They are all deserving of honour for the way they have shown courage over their own adversity.

“Courage is not only showing bravery in the face of danger, more often courage is the day-to-day determination and hard work of dealing with, adjusting to, and hopefully overcoming, the obstacles and harsh realities that life may present.

“It is a quality of mind, enabling one to face that hardship with resolution – a resolution with power and spirit.

“The power to make choices and set goals and to act upon them firmly without renouncing those objectives. The spirit to let that courage succeed by the behaviour and attitude shown to the world about them.

“That courage has been exemplified by all the young people here, but not only by those who have been nominated, but also by the parents, siblings, grandparents, and carers of these amazing young people who share in their lives and live with their difficulties.”

Click here to see Bobby studying on his childcare course and here to see Molly studying performing arts.