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Courage award for inspirational student Lucas

Posted: 14 March 2024

West Nottinghamshire College student Lucas White has been honoured at a celebration of inspirational, brave young people in Mansfield.

The 18-year-old was amongst 10 young people to be commended at the annual Mansfield Rotary Courage Awards.

Now in its 33rd year, the event was hosted at Portland College, Mansfield, in front of the award-winners’ proud families, teachers, dignitaries, Rotarians and sponsors.

At an emotional lunchtime ceremony on Tuesday 12 March, guests heard moving tributes about the nominees, who were presented with an engraved plaque from Mansfield Rotary president Kelvin Bowman and a framed civic citation from Mayor of Mansfield Andy Abrahams.

Each young person has overcome adversity to succeed against the odds, whether battling anxieties, living with serious illnesses, coping with an accident or incident, or even simply raising a smile.

They were recognised for “exemplifying moral and spiritual courage in the face of personal adversity and difficulty” after being nominated by their school, college or training-provider.

Lucas was commended for thriving on his college course after making the brave decision to return to formal education.

After experiencing significant social difficulties throughout school, Lucas developed an anxiety that resulted in him spending a year out of education, not knowing how he would progress.

Having decided to return to learning, the teenager came to West Notts to find out more about our sports courses.

He was very nervous, couldn’t maintain eye contact, and upon being told about a multi-skills coaching course, he initially felt apprehensive to apply because of the confidence needed to conduct sessions in the community, which is a key requirement of the programme.

However, Lucas was determined to overcome his anxieties and since starting the Level 2 Sport: Certificate in Multi-skills Coaching course last September, he has become a role model for his group.

He supports others and continues to seek opportunities to develop his personal and social development. Furthermore, Lucas has become the learner representative of his course and regularly engages with meetings and enrichment activities to benefit others.

He overcame the disappointment of not securing a work placement with an employer by independently finding an alternative placement with the college, supporting a football scheme for girls aged 5-11 through the Football Association.

Lucas recently organised and delivered a physical activity multi-skills event to primary schools in addition to supporting childcare students at the college with their studies for early years physical education.

At home, Lucas supports his mother, who struggles with fibromyalgia, and he volunteers in a charity shop run by brain injury association Headway, working alongside volunteers with brain injuries.

Lucas was nominated for the award by programme area leader for sport, Scott Corah.

Praising his commitment, Scott said: “At home, there are personal circumstances and caring responsibilities which require Lucas to support those around him – and yet he continues to attend college and complete work to the best of his ability before deadlines.

“Lucas has said that, in the past, when times were tough, he tended to run away from his problems, which only served to frustrate him further. Now, he faces up to his challenges and adopts the strategies needed to thrive.

“Lucas completed his first portfolio before the deadline, has engaged in a work placement, commits to supporting the course by delivering extra-curricular activity, and has received valuable, positive feedback – all of which has enhanced his mental well-being.

“Lucas is an exceptional student to teach. He questions, follows class expectations, challenges his peers and continues to smile. He approaches each day to overcome his personal challenges, as well as supporting those at home and in his voluntary work.”

Outside of college, Lucas enjoys playing all sports, particularly basketball, football, and badminton. In the future he hopes to have a successful career in sports coaching, whether working with children or adults, including those less able. Lucas also plans to continue his voluntary work.

Paying tribute to the 10 award-winners, Rotary president Kelvin Bowman said: “We feel that they are all deserving of honour for the way they have all shown courage over their own adversity.

“Thirty-three years ago, the then president of Mansfield Rotary, Rotn Mike Neville, used this definition at the very first Courage Awards – and successive presidents have been unable to better it: Courage is often described as the ability to conquer fear or despair.

“But courage is not only showing bravery in the face of danger, more often courage is the day-to-day determination and hard work of dealing with, adjusting to, and hopefully overcoming, the obstacles and harsh realities that life may present.

“It is a quality of mind, enabling one to face that hardship with resolution – a resolution with power and spirit.

“That courage has been exemplified by all the young people here, but not only by those who have been nominated, but also by the parents, siblings, grandparents, and carers of these amazing young people who share in their lives and live with their difficulties.”

Kelvin thanked staff, teachers, parents, and students from the schools, colleges and organisations represented for their time, effort, and enthusiasm for the awards.

He also explained how the Courage Awards has its origin in Mansfield, Ohio (USA) where that city’s Rotary began its programme in 1968, when a retired Salvation Army brigadier, Rotn William McGowan, saw the need to honour worthy students not usually selected for awards – and thus the Mansfield Ohio Courage Award programme started.

It continues to this day – and what one Mansfield rotary club started, another is continuing in England.

Click here to see a short video showing Lucas developing his skills on the sport and multi-skills coaching course.

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