What is the Caitlin Ronan Award for Courage and Endeavour?

Caitlin Ronan joined our Sixth Form in September 2015 to study A Levels. She was taught at home because she suffered from a progressive neurological disease called CIDP which meant she was confined to bed. Caitlin never let her illness become a barrier. She became part of the student leadership team, forged great friendships, sang, wrote plays and through her incredible Eyegaze project raised an amazing amount of money – over £35,000 – to help others with similar difficulties. Caitlin sadly passed away on 17th November 2016. Everyone who met Caitlin was truly inspired by her amazing love of life, tenacity, beautiful singing voice and her absolute determination to get the most out of her all-too short and often difficult life. As a tribute to Caitlin, a new award ‘The Caitlin Ronan Award for Courage and Endeavour’ was awarded in July 2017 and continues to be an annual award at the Year 13 Leavers Assembly.

Came 3rd in the final of Hereford’s Got Talent!

Loyal Misty, Happy Caitlin!

Caitlin’s smile
Caitlin & her closest JM6 Friends
A Flavour of Caitlin

Caitlin epitomised the words ‘Courage and Endeavour’ and in her older sister’s own words on her Caitlin’s Stars Facebook page: ‘All in all she was an incredible inspiration to everyone she met and all were amazed by her determination to live life to the full and by her courage. Anyone who met her went away humbled and determined not to moan about the little things in life.’

A number of 6th formers from JMHS started to visit Caitlin in the 1st term she started at Sixth Form – 5 girls in particular became close friends with her – she became their confidante, someone they could talk to about their worries and stresses that all Year 13s deal with coming up to your exams. They always told me that they came away feeling much better about themselves – she loved her role as counsellor.

Caitlin was studying A levels – Maths, Business Studies, Accountancy and Drama whilst stuck in bed, with no movement from the neck downwards and under a lot of medication but she wanted to be just like her peers. She never considered herself any different or disabled.

Caitlin’s Fundraising Efforts

As mentioned previously Caitlin raised £35,000 for Eyegaze Systems and we have managed to give away 7 Eyegaze Systems to deserving young people like Caitlin.

Despite all her medical problems including huge struggles with breathing, her passion for musical theatre never diminished. She attended Stagecoach for 10 years, and from her bed achieved both Grade 7 in her Musical Theatre Singing exam and also Grade 5 in the LAMDA Theatre Performance exam. Not only was she passionate about performing herself, but also wanted to help people in the same position as her to be able to perform on main stage.

In honour of Caitlin we raised £7000 for Graeae Theatre Company. The money we raised went towards a programme which provides young deaf and disabled people with training from industry professionals and leading drama schools.

Caitlin’s family hope this has given you a flavour of Caitlin and that her inspiration, courage and endeavour, which lives on through them all and her friends, will mean that the winner of the award in future years will have shown those special qualities that she possessed. Her older sister Lucy who was in her 2nd year of university when Caitlin died pulled out for a year but then returned, finished her degree and then completed a 2-year graduate scheme in marketing. She then took a huge leap of faith and set up her own business as a travel writer/blogger, drawing courage and inspiration from her sister Caitlin who she often mentions in ‘Farawaylucy‘.

A little bit of courage and endeavour go a long way.

This Year’s Winner is…

Each year, if the Award Criteria is met, we award one courageous and hardworking Year 13.

This year, on May 10th 2024, just as Year 13 start their A Levels in earnest, Roger Tonks was awarded the Caitlin Ronan Award because he has shown so much courage and endeavour throughout his time at school and in the Sixth Form. He works tirelessly to improve his knowledge and understanding of his subjects and always aims for the highest standards. He is always there to give his time to support others whenever it is needed, despite at times struggling himself.

Below is a message from Roger which shows just how much he has overcome to be the best he can be.

Engraved and shiny!

Well deserved Roger!

Roger & Previous Winners
Roger’s Story

My start in life sadly, wasn’t as happy or straight forward as some children’s. At birth I was removed under police protection from my birth family and placed in the care system where I remained until I, along with my brother were adopted.

Whilst my time at primary and secondary school has predominantly been filled with fun, good friends and great mentors there have been challenges too. Having a sibling who has a disability and complex needs meant that I often placed his needs before my own and we both experienced varying degrees of bullying. Some of my achievements could never be celebrated like my peers, photographs were rarely allowed and newspaper articles had to be anonymised due to safety concerns from being in care.

Throughout my school years I have been both conscientious and reliable. I help at Parents’ Evenings, extracurricular events and I’ve represented the school as a prefect and as a subject ambassador for the sixth form, even when it’s been personally challenging to do so.

I’ve had to show a great deal of resilience and commitment to my studies in order to succeed. On the first day of GCSE exams my grandfather passed away at St Michaels Hospice, a place where I went on to volunteer.

I’ve really enjoyed my time at JMHS and with the help and support of my teachers and parents, I have been fortunate enough to get through to the final stage of interviews at Oxford university and hold offers for Birmingham and London universities.

CONGRATULATIONS ROGER! We are really proud of you.