THE courage of a GCSE student who spent most of her exam year too ill to attend school and the memory of a much-loved teacher were honoured at a York school’s annual awards ceremony.

Holly Smith suffered such a major injury to her lower spine in an accident in June 2011 she could only attend lessons at All Saints RC School very occasionally.

But that did not stop her getting A* in her GCSEs this summer by studying hard at home with support from the school. Staff were so impressed by her dedication and courage they introduced a Special Recognition Award for her.

It was collected on her behalf by her brothers, Joe and Will, because she was too ill to attend the ceremony in York Minster in person.

Calum Masters, who takes his A-levels next summer, was the first winner of the Stephen Brian Award in memory of physics teacher Stephen Brian, who taught at the school for more than 20 years but died in a cycling accident last year.

Calum received the award for his unfailing willingness to help out at school and huge contribution to the school’s life.

“You need it, he does it,” said head teacher Bill Scriven of Calum’s terrific attitude.

The All Saints Award went to close friends Jake Lishman and Thomas Rychlik, who left the school last summer with seven A-levels each and who had tutored other pupils and led a school team for a national school linguistic competition.

Jessica Ellis won the Bar Convent prize for her work on the annual school pilgrimage to Lourdes, and Helena Ramli won the Governors’ Award.

Scores of students won department prizes or certificates of attainment or commitment to work and effort.

Chief guest Margaret Sentamu, wife of the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, gave the keynote speech. Three of the school’s choirs and vocal groups gave performances, and student Bex Burton gave a solo performance of the song Wild Horses.