Battling Andrew scoops top education award

Andrew Hill
Andrew Hill

SCHOOLBOY Andrew Hill was diagnosed with lung cancer two days before Christmas 2009.

Doctors didn’t expect him to live more than 12 months.

However, nearly two years on, he is not only fighting the disease but has also achieved 12 GCSEs, ten of them at A*, and four AS levels.

Now his courage and determination have been recognised with a national award from education organisation Pure Potential.

Andrew, aged 16, of Ecclesall, was nominated by Sarah Rockliff, head of sixth form at Silverdale School.

“Throughout his treatment he has been so mature and cheerful – and achieved fantastic GCSE and AS level results while undergoing difficult and debilitating therapy,” she said.

“He has always wanted to be treated equally. He has a fantastic sense of humour and makes light of his illness on the surface. Andrew is a real star and an asset to the school.”

Andrew was given the diagnosis after visiting the doctor with a chest infection. When antibiotics and steroids failed to help, he was referred to the Children’s Hospital – where an x-ray showed he had lung cancer.

He was admitted to hospital in the new year and began a course of chemotherapy which resulted in severe weight loss.

In mid-January he returned to school to sit his GCSE science exams. “It was quite challenging,” he admits.

Then there was more gruelling chemotherapy which finished in June, when he again returned to school to take the rest of his GCSEs.

“Revising was difficult, especially with the side-effects of the chemo. But in the exams tiredness was the main issue – and clarity of thought – it was quite a draining experience.”

His last exam was on a Friday and three days later he was back in hospital to start radiotherapy.

After his 16th birthday, Andrew was moved to Weston Park’s teenage cancer unit where staff provide specialist support.

“My mum and dad have been brilliant but the clinical nursing specialists are great. Even now that’s the one person I can go to all the time.”

Andrew has three-monthly checks but his prognosis is unclear: he is one of only three teenagers on record with this type of cancer.

“In public I can be quite positive but it still gets to me,” he admits. “It’s the fact that now the treatment’s over and there’s nothing going on, it’s always there.”

For now, he is back at Silverdale, studying for A-levels, and his thoughts are turning to university – his ambition is to go into engineering.

He also finds time to run the school debating society and to set up debating clubs in two feeder primary schools, Dobcroft and Ecclesall.

His cheerful, hard-working and supportive nature helped to win him a Pure Potential award, which attract hundreds of nominations on behalf of state-educated students who have excelled in their studies.

This week’s presentation took place at a reception in London. Andrew said: “I was so pleased to win the award and surprised too!

“I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, despite battling cancer. But without all the help from the Children’s Hospital, Weston Park and the Teenage Cancer Trust, I wouldn’t have achieved this.”