YOUNGSTER Russell Shepherd has more reason than most to celebrate his win in a national poetry competition.
The 12-year-old won the Secondary Category of the competition run by NASEN (The National Association for Special Educational Needs).
Russell, who won with his poem `I don't know how to spell', became seriously ill with hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) at three.
He has suffered from physical and learning difficulties ever since.
He could not see or talk, and medical experts said he would not live beyond his sixth birthday.
But 47 operations later, Russell has gone on to beat off stiff competition in the poetry contest.
Proud mum Linda Senior said: "Russell was really modest about his win-he didn't even tell me when he entered it!
"He came up with his poem after a class discussion led by his teacher about what it means to be both excluded and included in life.
"He has always been quite creatively-minded, just like his twin brother Tom, and he also writes very good stories.
"He is pleased about winning and is particularly happy with the prize money he won, which he is saving up to buy something he really wants."
Russell, from Ainley Top, was presented with a certificate for his poem by NASEN representative Alex Griffiths, at his school, Ravenscliffe High School in Halifax. He also received £50, stationery and £250 to go towards software for his school.
All special and mainstream schools were eligible to enter NASEN's first poetry competition this year.
Russell's entry was named one of best of 250 entries across the country based on the topic `Inclusion'.
Winners were announced at The Education show held at Birmingham NEC last month.
Russell's mum was inspired to establish the Forget Me Not Trust in 1998 by her experiences looking after Russell.
She was shocked at the lack of care available for seriously ill children, and set out to raise funds to build and run a children's hospice in West Yorkshire.