Dagenham pupils honoured for achieving against all odds

Gerald Naziri and Gerogina Black from Dagenham Park School with their awards

Gerald Naziri and Gerogina Black from Dagenham Park School with their awards - Credit: Archant

Preparing for your GCSEs is tough for any teenager, but imagine dealing with those pressures while also coping with a family death or a debilitating illness.

Dagenham Park School pupils Gerald Naziri and Georgia Black did just that and managed to pick up a crop of good grades along the way.

Last week the pair were honoured for their hard work at the PiXL Celebrating Success event, held at Central Hall in Westminster on Thursday.

Former athlete Denise Lewis, who won a gold medal in heptathlon at the 2000 Olympic, presented the resilient six formers with an ‘achieving against all odds award.’

Garald lost his mother Lefterie to cancer in January, when she was just 36 years old. Despite taking a month off school to support her in the final stages of the illness and then dealing with her death, he passed all his exams and even secured two A*s and an A.

“It was really difficult at times, but I always tried to hold my head up and keep going,” he said. “I had to be strong.”

The 16-year-old added he had been surprised by the award. “I didn’t think they would pick me. I think mum would have been proud,” he told the Post.

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Around 12 months before her GCSEs Georgia was diagnosed with Stills disease, which causes rheumatoid arthritis. The teenager’s joints were sometimes so inflamed she was forced to stay at home from school.

But determined not to let her illness affect her grades, Georgia asked for work to be sent home so she didn’t fall behind.

“My joints would hurt so much at times, but I revised as much as I could,” said the 16-year-old, who got a distinction in animal care and a number of Cs. “I’m happy that I did well and getting the award was great. I didn’t expect it.”