Byline: By Jessica Shepherd
A teenager who missed a quarter of her GCSE course through ill health has won a prestigious prize for her top results.
Melissa Carlile, 16, of Walkergate gained 10 A* to C grades in her GCSEs at Benfield School in Walkergate, Newcastle, despite her family fearing she had missed too much of the course and would have to repeat a year.
Melissa suffered from a debilitating hormonal illness that made her faint.
In recognition of her achievement, Benfield honoured her with the Nicholas Hamilton Against the Odds Award, named after a 16-year-old pupil who died of bone cancer shortly after taking his GCSEs in 1998.
Melissa said: "The award has made me feel very proud. I'm now hoping to go to Northumbria University to study physiotherapy."
Assistant headteacher Jenny Magee said: "Melissa has shown perseverance and determination. Her results are phenomenal."
Last year the Nicholas Hamilton Against the Odds Award went to Bosnian refugee Smajo Beso, 17, who joined Benfield speaking no English. He is now reading architectural studies at Newcastle University.
Melissa's classmate Sharon Wortley, 17, of Walkergate, was doubly happy when she was awarded the Evening Chronicle Award for Creative Writing, as well as a prize for the best GCSE results in her year.
Sharon wowed teachers with her literary analysis and poetry, as well as obtaining 12 A* to Cs in her GCSEs, including straight As in English literature, language and oral.
Benfield's head of English, Lynne Ostle, said: "From the age of 11 when Sharon started at the school she showed a love of language and an impressive sophistication of its use."
Sharon said: "It is a bit of a shock. I really didn't expect a prize. I have loved studying Lord of the Flies and Taming of the Shrew as part of our English course.
"I enjoy writing poetry. One of my favourites is a dialogue between two parents and their children. …