A Luton student suffering from a rare genetic defect called prune belly syndrome has been honoured by Olympic legend Dame Kelly Holmes.
Shuaib Ali of Luton Sixth Form College was presented with a certificate to mark completion of the Unlocking Potential programme which her Trust developed, together with education charity AQA.
The mentoring initiative aims to assist young people aged 14 to 19 who have shown commitment and integrity in the face of challenging personal circumstances.
Eighteen-year-old Shuaib has a urinary disorder which means he has limited kidney function, even though he had a transplant in 2004.
In spite of this he has devoted considerable time to helping a Luton-based charity which sends books to Malawi.
Principal Chris Nicholls said: “The college has supported the Malawi Book Drive for three years.
“We were delighted to see Shuaib take a lead role. He wrote to more than 30 schools and the response was amazing.
“It was a logistical nightmare for him, co-ordinating the collection and packing. But he showed serious perseverance, working alongside volunteers.”
Shuaib was among 20 young people who attended an awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
Dame Kelly praised everyone on the Unlocking Potential programme and revealed how mentoring in her teenage years helped her to Olympic success.
She said: “I’m delighted to see the achievements of these young people honoured today.”
AQA chief executive Andrew Hall added: “They should feel very proud.”
> Dame Kelly’s team of world class athletes – including athlete Alistair Patrick-Heselton and kayaker Hayleigh Mason – are in Luton this week working in partnership with the council and college on their Get On Track programme.
She said: “Times are tough for young people in Luton. They really need our support to help them make positive changes. I’m pleased we can make a difference.”