School’s special tribute to Katherine

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Banbridge Academy Principal, Robin McLoughlin, has used his prize-giving speech to pay tribute to a pupil who lost her battle with a rare form of cancer earlier this year.

Katherine Neill passed away in August, having just received her A-Level results, achieving A and A* results despite spending time in and out of hospital.

Katherine was just 17 years old when she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Rhabdomyosarcoma.

In his prize day speech Mr McLoughlin praised the teenager for her inspiration.

He said: “Prize Day is a happy and joyful occasion when we celebrate success, but we cannot ignore the fact that since this time last year many in our school community have known the pain of bereavement and loss.

“Prior to the start of this academic year, we lost a beautiful young lady who enriched the lives of everyone she met, Katherine Neill.

“Despite battling a rare form of cancer, Katherine continued her studies in the A Level subjects that her health permitted and in the summer she was awarded an A* and A in Psychology and Mathematics.

“Today we welcome Roisin and Gary, her parents, and Jack Flanagan who provided unbelievable support over the past year to Katherine, and indeed, to the whole family.”

A JustGiving page was set up in Katherine’s memory shortly after her passing and the total currently is just short of £20,000.

Mr McLoughlin added: “Later this afternoon, we will remember with a special award Katherine’s inspiration and thank her for enriching our lives with her grace and friendship.

“We know Katherine will likewise be smiling as we celebrate the outstanding achievements of James, her younger brother, who attained A* grades in all of his GCSEs.”

Mr McLoughlin also paid tribute to Mrs Louise Peacock and Mr John Ashfield.

He said: “Louise was a loving mother to Josh and Amy, devoted wife to Gavin and a stalwart of the Banbridge Academy Association.

“In March, we lost an amazing and incredibly gifted young man, John Ashfield, who left the school in 2014.

“Today John will be looking down with a smile, as we celebrate the wonderful achievements of his younger brother, Robert, who excelled in his GCSEs.”