FORMER Ilkley Grammar School student, 19-year-old Henry Ackroyd, has been awarded the Rising Star award at the Independent Schools of the Year awards held on Monday night at The Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge, London.

The Rising Star award is made to a student who has embraced all that independent school life has to offer, and truly made the most of their experience.

Henry joined Sedbergh School in September 2014, from IGS, and in January 2015, whilst out on a school run, suffered a major heart attack. He received CPR for over 45 minutes before being flown to Middlesbrough Hospital.

Henry suffered serious brain damage as a result of lack of oxygen and the prognosis for his long-term recovery was poor.

After major corrective heart surgery, the department for Paediatric Neurology in Leeds thought he would never walk or talk again, let alone read or progress in full-time education.

After just one term away from school, Henry returned to Sedbergh as a full-time boarding pupil with ambitions of playing competitive sport again for Sedbergh.

Eighteen months later, Henry stepped back onto the rugby field. His recovery and physical rehabilitation led Henry to discover a love for athletics and sprinting. He is now an aspiring para-athlete and a member of the Para Development Academy with his eyes set on the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.

Henry left Sedbergh in Summer 2019, with a full BTEC in Sport and Exercise Science and an EPQ qualification for his assignment on hypoxic brain injury recovery. He has gone on to study Sport Development at Leeds Beckett University.

Henry gave a speech, dedicating the award to all the individuals from the Ilkley community, Leeds General Infirmary and Sedbergh School who supported him over the past five years. Without their support Henry said he would not be where he is today.

He said: “I feel very privileged to be given The Rising Star award. I would like to dedicate the award to all those who supported me over the past five years. I would not be who I am today without them.

“I would like to personally thank Sedbergh School who not only accommodated my new needs on return to school but also encouraged me to be the best I can be, thank you.”

Henry’s parents Ross and Bridget Ackroyd, and 16-year-old sister Emily, live in Ilkley. Emily also attends Sedbergh School.

Ross and Bridget said: “It was an honour and privilege to be at the Independent Schools of the Year awards.

“It was great to see so many deserving institutions be given recognition for their efforts.

“Seeing Henry collect his award was emotional and it was right he recognised and thanked all those who have supported him on his journey.”

Andrew Fleck, principal of Sedbergh School, said: “Henry is a fantastic young man who, with his family, has overcome enormous challenges to achieve great success.

“He is inspiration to all of us, we are proud to support him and will watch his future progress with great pride.”