Burns hero Jak Church nominated for Community Pride award

York Press: Jak Church, of Acomb, who escaped from a burning boat on the River Ouse Jak Church, of Acomb, who escaped from a burning boat on the River Ouse

JAK Church is, in Sam Pryke’s words, “not only my best friend, he's my hero".

The 11-year-old from Acomb has nominated his best friend Jak for Child of the Year in the Press's Community Pride awards, after an accident left Jak with severe burns.

The two boys have been best friends since the age of four, but in summer 2013 Jak and his father, John, 41, were spending the night on John’s boat moored at Acaster Malbis, when they were woken by a fierce fire which trapped them in the cabin.

Jak refused to leave his father on the burning boat, and even though the pair escaped he was left with severe burns on his back and arms.

He was treated at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, and since leaving hospital has thrown himself into raising money for the burns unit and the Pinderfields Burns Club, which organises camps and activities for young people recovering from burns injuries.

So far, Jak has organised a “Bandage Day” at his school, Dringhouses Primary, and a 20-mile cycle around Knavesmire with friends and family. His fundraising total stands at £1,800.

The hospital too has praised Jak's efforts, and called him an inspiration to other children being treated for burns.

Tracy Foster is a play specialist at the hospital and leads the Burns Club.

She said: “Jak is an absolutely amazing child. He is a very brave boy who has gone through so much but he has pulled through. After he came to the unit to be treated, he began raising money for the unit and the Burns Club straight away and he supports other children at the unit as well.

“Not only has he raised so much money for us but he has also created a picture book which describes the journey of treatment for children at the unit. This book has helped us so much. He always comes to see us with a smile on his face. He is an inspiration to other children at the unit and we want to thank him and his family for everything they have done for us.”

The Child of the Year award, which is sponsored by Saville Audio Visual, recognises people aged 12 or under who have overcome an adversity or faced up with courage to life’s hardships and challenges.

To make a nomination or for more information on the Community Pride awards, which are sponsored by Benenden Health, go to yorkpress.co.uk/pride.

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