Newquay student Joe bags top A-levels at 15, despite battling illness
A NEWQUAY student bagged top grades in his A levels – despite being just 15 years old and battling Type 1 diabetes and a mini-stroke.
Joe Smith, who attends Treviglas Community College, took his exams three years early and achieved an A* in maths, an A* in further maths and an A in chemistry.
Proud mum Heather said the road to success had been tough for the youngster, who had been in and out of clinics in the two years since his illness was diagnosed.
"He's had lots of time off because of this, and also because he had a small stroke," she said.
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"He's had to attend more than 50 clinic appointments. Things can still be difficult for him but it's getting better. These results are amazing and I'm very proud of him."
In type 1 diabetes the body cannot produce insulin, the hormone that regulates blood glucose. Too much glucose can damage internal organs, so sufferers, including Joe, have to take insulin injections for the rest of their lives.
Joe received his results on Thursday, as did brother Kane, 18, who also took maths and further maths early, gaining an A* and A.
Kane, who is off to study geophysics at Imperial College London, topped up his early exam haul with an A in physics, a B in chemistry and a C in biology this year.
"They've both done so well," Heather said. "The school has been wonderful and very flexible, letting them do their A levels early."
Joe, who will continue his studies at Treviglas and has not yet decided on a career path, said: "I'm very happy with my results. My teachers have been fantastic."
Senior deputy head Michelle Dunleavy said the school always tried to allow exceptional students to take exams early so that the pace of their learning matched their ability.
"If we feel students are capable of taking exams early we'll always try to help them do that," she said.
"Both Joe and Kane are extremely talented in maths and sciences but also work extremely hard. They have a very supportive mum and supportive teachers too. We couldn't be more proud."
The brothers expressed their gratitude to their science and maths teachers, Nick Richards, James Rogers, Gavin Bennett, Jeremy Pollard and Charlie Seyfert, for all their help and support.
Joe said he had been promised a Playstation 3 game for his exam success, while Kane jokingly asked for "just lots of money".
Overall, Treviglas pupils achieved the best A-level results in the school's history this year, recording a 98.6 per cent pass rate with almost two-thirds of pupils bagging an A or A* grade in at least one subject. Almost 90 per cent of pupils met or surpassed their target grades. See pages 41-45 for A level pictures and reports.