“I never thought something like this would happen, given all he’s had to overcome and the very difficult conversations I’ve had with doctors down the years” – schoolboy Bobby wins a national Inspirational Learner Award

An inspirational schoolboy with a range of complex health conditions has defied the odds to scoop a national education award.

Bobby Bolton has been receiving care from East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) at The Treehouse since he was nine months old. The 11-year-old is non-verbal, on a ventilator 24 hours a day and relies on Optiflow (a high-flow nasal oxygen therapy device).

Despite these challenges, Bobby loves learning, attends Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy, in Ipswich, and has now won an Inspirational Learner Award, from the Ormiston Academy Trust.

After being nominated, he saw off competition from the trust’s other 42 academies nationwide and received his award during a glittering ceremony at Birmingham’s Grand Hotel on Thursday night (14th March).

Mum Sarah Shemmings said: “I was bursting with pride and totally overwhelmed.

“I cried as soon as I found out he’d won and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life to see him receive his award.

“I never thought something like this would happen, given all he’s had to overcome and the very difficult conversations I’ve had with doctors down the years.

“In spite of everything, he’s come on in such leaps and bounds and to now win a national award is unbelievable.

“He really is an inspiration and it’s hard to put into words how extremely proud and blessed I feel.”

Ipswich Town fan Bobby has Microcephalus (a condition where the brain doesn’t grow at the expected rate, meaning he has severe developmental delay) and Hydrocephalus (a build-up of fluid on the brain).

He also has Polymicrogyria (a condition characterised by abnormal development of the brain before birth), Global Developmental Delay (when a child takes longer to reach certain development milestones than other children their age), chronic lung disease, epilepsy and sleep apnea.

Nevertheless, he is passionate about learning and communicates by blinking, pursing his lips and closing his eyes.

Sarah said: “Bobby loves everything about school, learning and seeing his friends. He particularly likes music, science and maths.

“It’s been great for him and obviously I’m thrilled because this has happened to Bobby.

“However, I also think it’s great to see a non-verbal child being recognised for their achievements, because that doesn’t happen often.

“Just because they can’t explain themselves verbally, it doesn’t mean they can’t express themselves in different ways. Bobby’s proof of that.”

Sarah and Bobby were joined in Birmingham by Specialist Learning Support Assistants Zoe Knowland and Marie Murphy, from Thomas Wolsey Ormiston Academy.

Both have been instrumental in helping Bobby, who has two-to-one support at school and attends twice a week. He also does lots of home learning.

Zoe said: “Bobby’s a brave, determined, clever young man who enjoys every second at school, making every moment count.

“Despite the added pressures his health conditions bring, he’s always eager, positive and prepared to give his all.

“He’s made amazing progress and uses various forms of communication to make very clear choices.

“He’s an important, popular member of the class and both the children and staff can see how much bravery and effort it takes for him to attend and excel.

“He doesn’t let anything hold him back and he’s a very special, hard-working superstar. We’re very proud of him.”

Find our notes to editors here.

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For further information about this release please contact:

Matt Plummer | Media and PR Manager | 07738 328058 | Matt.Plummer@each.org.uk

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