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Pride of Hounslow moves people to tears as more than 100 young people receive awards

Rohan Sharma, who overcame his autism to raise awareness of the condition, was among the Jack Petchey award winners

Jack Petchey Foundation Achievement Award winner Rohan Sharma

An autistic student whose speech about living with the condition moved fellow pupils to tears has been honoured with a top award.

Rohan Sharma received a Jack Petchey Foundation Achievement Award in recognition of his determination to overcome the challenges he faces and to raise awareness of the disability, which makes it harder to communicate and interact.

The 16-year-old, of Cranford Community College , was one of 105 young people and 10 adult leaders from across Hounslow to be presented with awards at Watermans arts centre in Brentford on May 24 and 25.

Each of the young winners, aged 11-25, had been nominated by a peer or leader in recognition of a wide range of achievements.

They all received a certificate, a medallion and a cheque for £200 to spend as they wished.

'So proud of how much this generation gives back'

Brentford & Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury , who attended the award ceremonies, said she was "so proud" of the young winners, who demonstrated "how much this generation give back".

Hounslow police borough commander Raj Kohli said: "I was inspired by what they (the young winners) have done as well as the adults who support them," he added.

Jack Petchey Foundation Achievement Award winner Alicia O'Connor

"So remember next time you see a police officer with a young person, they're more likely to be giving an award than telling them off!"

Hounslow's new mayor Ajmer Grewal said she was hugely impressed by the "admirable young people" to whom she presented awards.

Prize money spent on books for poorer pupils

Despite concerns about how he would cope with the challenges of moving to such a large secondary school, Rohan has flourished there.

In year nine, he helped teachers educate his forum about autism and spoke movingly about living with the condition.

He excelled in his GCSEs and also overcame obstacles outside the classroom, like on a trip to Jamie's Farm where he delivered a lamb.

He spent his £200 on revision guides for disadvantaged pupils, who might not otherwise be able to afford them.

Awards for fundraisers and other students who overcame difficulties

Jack Petchey Foundation Achievement Award winner Leon Lane

Other notable winners included:

  • Alicia O'Connor, 14, made friendship bracelets and sold them at Lampton School to raise money for Cancer Research UK and arts and crafts materials for the school's Room 29 Lunch Club. She spent her £200 on new facilities for the lunch club, including a digital camera.
  • Leon Lane, 14, attends the London Borough of Hounslow Swimming Club where he has overcome his special needs and learning difficulties to become a valued member of the club. He spent his £200 buying lane time for the club at the 50m pool in Guildford.
  • Snovia Fernandes, 13, is a member of the liturgy and main school choir at St Mark's Catholic School , and goes the extra mile to welcome new students and ensure they feel included. She spent her £200 on girls' kits for netball and football players.
  • Lee Kitney, 14, was anxious, scared and lacked confidence when he started at Marjory Kinnon School but has learned to cope and now helps new students making the transition. He spent his £200 to get a theatre company to put on an educational play for the school.

The Jack Petchey Foundation is a charity founded by the eponymous self-made businessman to recognise and support the positive contributions young people make to society.

In March, a Hammersmith schoolgirl triumphed in the regional final of Jack Petchey's Speak Out Challenge!

In February, more than 100 young people from across Ealing were recognised with Jack Petchey Foundation Achievement Awards.

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