BRAVE youngsters have been honoured by the Mayor of Kirklees at a special ceremony.

The Mayor's Children of Courage Awards were presented at Huddersfield Town Hall yesterday.

Twenty-seven young people from all over Kirklees were honoured for their bravery or triumphs over adversity.

The annual awards ceremony included entertainment from Scissett Youth Band.

The guests later enjoyed a dinner and magic show.

The mayor, Clr Barbara Allonby, paid tribute to the courage of all the youngsters, many of whom had moving stories to tell.

Here are just three of them . . .



BEN, 12, was not expected to live when he was born.

The Waterloo youngster had a rare form of cerebral palsy, a brain condition which affects movement on the left side of his body.

He also had skull defects and two holes in his head, which were covered with a thin film of skin.

These were corrected during an operation when he was two weeks old.

He had skin missing from other parts of his body and needed grafts.

He also has problems with a drooping eyelid, which was corrected using muscle from his leg.

Unexpectedly, he also had to have his tonsils and adenoids removed and grommets put in his ears.

Ben has had a total of 23 operations since birth, at Pinderfields hospital in Wakefield, St James's Hospital in Leeds, Bradford Infirmary and Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Ben has overcome most of his problems but still has a limp and gets a lot of chest infections.

He used to take an active part in PE at St Joseph's Junior School in Dalton, but cannot participate in more challenging sports at All Saint's High School at Bradley Bar.

Mum Christine Lichfield nominated him for the awards.

She said: "Nobody knows what caused his problems.

"He has come through it all well. He misses school but always manages to catch up. He's good at maths and IT, those are his favourite subjects. We are proud of him and the way he's handled it all."

Ben still has difficulty writing and was due to get a laptop from school to help.

But the school's budget cannot stretch for the computer and he is hoping someone will donate one.

Ben attended the awards with Christine and dad Bill, who suffers with rheumatoid arthritis.

Christine cares for both Bill and Joshua full-time.

Ben's elder brother David, 20, did not attend as he is studying at York University.



MATTHEW, of Lepton, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer, 18 months ago.

The 6ft 2in teenager's weight plummeted to five stone and he was in a lot of pain.

But, now 16, he's hardly missed any lessons at King James's School in Almondbury - except for hospital appointments.

He even managed to pass all his GCSEs with D grades.

Matthew's resilience amazed his parents, Robert and Mandy, as well as doctors.

Very often he was back at school in an afternoon after painful chemotherapy and lumbar punctures in the morning.

Once, he had three operations in one day and was back in school the day after.

Matthew's disease is now in remission and he has a part-time job at The Foxglove pub in Kirkburton.

He is also on a motor vehicle course at Huddersfield Technical College.

His positive attitude impressed his teacher Sarah Ferguson, who nominated him for the awards.

Dad Robert said: "He did not let it get him down. He always kept a smile on his face. Even when his mum and I were down, he was telling us to get over it. We are proud of him."



JOSHUA, a promising footballer, fought his way back to health after suffering serious injury two years ago which left him in hospital for many months.

But now he is now walking and playing again.

He was nominated by a teacher at Outlane Junior School, where he is a pupil.

Joshua was bending down to pick up a tennis ball outside his former home on New Hey Road, Outlane, when a passing lorry hit his head.

Joshua suffered brain damage and was in hospital for six months, first at Leeds General Infirmary, then at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

He was brain-damaged and one side of his body was paralysed.

While he was in hospital, the family home was burgled and his toys were stolen.

Mum Tina Prentice could not face staying in the house, so the family, including Joshua's sister, Bethany, eight, are staying with relatives until their new home in Paddock is ready.

Miss Prentice said Joshua had made a fantastic recovery. He has overcome the paralysis on his left- hand side, the terrible headaches have almost stopped and he started school last December.

He plays football, despite a slight limp and having lost the use of his left hand.

Miss Prentice said: "He was a brilliant footballer before the accident. He was due to go to Leeds United's Academy. He was in a wheelchair when he left hospital, so what he's done is absolutely brilliant. He never complained. He's lucky. No-one thought he would pull through."