Brave Bradford schoolboy Connor Lancaster, who has conquered meningitis and is fighting cancer, is a finalist for one of this year’s Prince’s Trust & Samsung Celebrate Success Awards.
HRH The Prince of Wales will attend the glittering event hosted by TV superstars Ant and Dec next Wednesday and the Oscar-style ceremony recognises young people supported by The Trust who have succeeded against the odds and had a positive impact on their local community.
Connor, 15, from Wibsey, is up for the Novae Educational Achiever of the Year Award, which recognises young people who have been on Prince’s Trust Fairbridge or xl programmes, and have overcome personal barriers to develop new skills and engage with education.
At two weeks old he contracted meningitis and throughout his childhood relied on splints to aid his strength and walking stance. He is also partially sighted, and worked independently to ensure he kept up with his classes.
Connor said: “Having a normal school life was so important to me; I wasn’t going to let my disabilities stop me from doing well.”
Growing older, he needed injections and leg implants to help with this walking, but always remained focused and positive towards his schooling. His attendance was outstanding throughout his medical treatment.
Then Connor began to suffer excruciating pain and further tests revealed he had a rare form of cancer.
He underwent chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy and still attended school wherever he could.
When he received the all-clear he was eager to catch up with the work he had missed and began attending a Prince’s Trust xl club – an initiative which helps pupils who have fallen behind with their school work.
The Prince’s Trust xl club presents pupils with physical as well as academic tasks to which Connor gave total commitment.
He said: “The xl club was so much fun. Everyone supported each other, and there was a real sense of camaraderie. It helped me enjoy myself at the same time as catching up on all the work I’d had to miss.”
Around this time Connor was devastated to learn that his cancer had returned and this time it was terminal.
Instead of falling into a depression, Connor became more determined than ever, saying: “I fought it once, and I will fight it again.”
Giving the xl club 110 per cent, Connor even took part in an xl cricket Initiative. Unable to physically play, he took on other roles to keep his peers enthusiastic and attended a three-day cricket residential so he could be the group’s team manager, despite being in constant pain, for which he was prescribed morphine.
Connor’s hard work has paid off - he is predicted good grades in both his Maths and English GCSEs. His commitment to do well inspires everyone around him.
Matthew Fosh, CEO, Novae Insurance, said: “I would like to congratulate Connor for being one of just three people across the UK up for this award. He has come so far, and on behalf of all at Novae, would like to wish him the very best of luck.”
The Prince’s Trust & Samsung Celebrate Success Awards, now in their tenth year, will be held next Wednesday on March 12 at London’s Leicester Square Odeon.
Among the celebrity guests will be Prince’s Trust Ambassadors Phillip Schofield, Pixie Lott and Gary Lineker, who will come together to congratulate the young people on their achievements.