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Kelly lost her mum aged just 12... now her resolve has clinched a top award.


WHEN Kelly Niven's mother died suddenly she realised at the age of only 12 she would need strength and determination to succeed in life.

Now seven years later the Middlesbrough teenager's courage and resolve has paid off.

She has won a place at university and has received national recognition for her achievements winning a National Aimhigher Award.

The 19-year-old, from Stainton, has been awarded Sixth Form/FE Aimhigher Learner Award by the Government organisation which works to widen participation in higher education.

She has just started at York St John University where she is reading theology and religious studies - something she believes she never would have done if her mum Marion had not died at the age of 44.

Kelly, her brother Richard, 14, and sister Sophie, 17, who also have an older brother Matthew, 30, were brought up by their nana Ena. Kelly did not know her dad.

"We were staying with nana on Friday and Saturday night and didn't come back," said Kelly.

"I woke up on Saturday morning and my mum's boyfriend was sitting by my bed and he told me she had died.

"She had a massive heart attack." Kelly had just started her second year at Ian Ramsey School in Stockton, but because she moved in with her nana she had to move school twice.

First she transferred to Coulby Newham School which joined with Brackenhoe School to be replaced by The King's Academy, in Coulby Newham, where Kelly took her GCSEs and A-levels.

"I knew I had to get to know people or I would be completely on my own.

"Everybody was in their friendship groups and I had to get them to talk to me and then I knew it would be fine. I made lots of friends really easily."

Kelly said her RE teachers at The King's Academy inspired her to become an RE teacher.

"I would never ever have thought I would want to be an RE teacher, but being at King's my RE teachers inspired and helped me," she said.

"When my mum died I wanted to know what different religions said about what happened when you died and they helped me. I want to help people in the way they have helped and inspired me."

Kelly also paid tribute to her nana. "She is just fantastic, she's 76 but really doesn't act like it and doesn't look like it, she's like a normal parent.

"She's done everything she possibly can for us, and considering she had her own life she's supporting us full-time.

"She thought she'd stopped being a parent but she has just taken it up again."

Kelly was due to attend a special awards reception in Westminster today where she was to meet Pat McFadden, the Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Also attending the event will be Pat White, acting deputy director, marketing and student recruitment at Teesside University, who has won the Outstanding Individual Contribution to Aimhigher, for has contributed to the Widening Participation Agenda for more than 20 years.
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 6, 2009
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