Kimberley Owen (17) of Pinchbeck would have been satisfied just to be nominated as Student of the Year at the Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian Education Awards 2015.
But the Bourne Academy student was dumbfounded after hearing her name announced as the winner, ahead of nine other nominees, in the exceptionally difficult category to be decided by the judging panel.
Kimberley’s life story as recently as four years ago was in stark contrast to the “thoughtful, insightful and caring student”, as described by Bourne Academy deputy headteacher Lucy Conley, she is now.
“I work very hard to get all my work done for health and social care and sociology, which are the subjects I’m studying at A-level,” Kimberley said.
“But I had to challenge myself to buckle down and do some learning because I used to have a negative attitude, thinking ‘I’m going to fail so why bother to learn?’
“Even so, it was a massive shock to get the Student of the Year Award and I was proud just in the fact that I’d been nominated, let alone winning it.”
I realised that I wasn’t going to get anywhere in life unless I changed, challenged myself to buckle down and do some learningKimberley Owen (17) of Pinchbeck and Bourne Academy
Kimberley, five years younger than her sister Victoria (22), was born at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston, on April 26, 1998, and spent her early years living in Pinchbeck and Quadring.
Her first experience of education was at Quadring Cowley and Browns Primary School where life was uneventful, except for one day when her mum Jayne Wilds had to come to her daughter’s rescue.
Kimberley said: “When I was four-and-a-half, I remember falling off my bike while cycling to school which I did because it was such a long distance from our house. My bike still had stabiilisers on it so when I tried to lean across while riding it, I rolled off the pavement and into a dyke full of nettles.
“Mum, along with other mums, helped me up as I scrambled out of the dyke.
“But when I came out, I looked like I had chicken pox because of all the nettle stings.”
Kimberley’s magnetic personality made it easy for her to make friends, both at Quadring Cowley and Browns and Pinchbeck East Primary School where she spent the latter part of her primary education.
“I was an approachable person, which I still am today, so I was never short of invitations to go on trips and to parties,” Kimberley said.
“I loved my time at Pinchbeck East and after primary school in July 2009, I knew that I wanted to go to Gleed Girls Technology College (now Sir John Gleed School) because my sister was there and she’d always take care of me.”
Jayne added: “Whether Kimberley had passed her 11-Plus exam or not, she would have gone to the Gleed because it was a fantastic school at the time and Kimberley wanted to go to her sister’s school.
“Kimberley and Victoria were like a mother hen and little chick in the sense that they went through things together.”
But after the headteacher at the time, Liz Shawhulme, retired in December 2010, Kimberley experienced a rapid downspiral which included being disruptive in classes and “mixing with the wrong people”.
“I began to see school as a social place, rather than a place to learn,” Kimberley said.
“I hung around with my friends for as long as possible, even when it looked like I was going to fail my GCSEs.”
Kimberley’s lowest point came in May 2012 when she made the mistake of drinking strong alcohol bought by a friend and ended up in hospital after “passing out” in Ayscoughfee Gardens, Spalding.
“At the time, I’d moved from the Gleed to Bourne Academy and it was then that I realised I wasn’t going to get anywhere in life unless I changed,” Kimberley said.
“So my mum and dad gave me a heart-to-heart talk and then I started making friends at Bourne Academy, people I’d known from my time at Pinchbeck East.
“I wanted to actually do well at school and make something of my life.”
In the last four years, Kimberley has held down a weekend job in Spalding, volunteered at children’s playgroup in Pinchbeck and spent time with patients having end-of-life care at Thorpe Hall Hospice, Peterborough.
Kimberley said: “Where I want to be and what I want to become isn’t entirely based on my academic ability, but my desire, determination, life experience and who I am as a person as well.”
Kimberley is one of Bourne Academy’s flagship students in her roles as Senior Prefect, Deputy Head Girl and Junior Leadership Team member.
Her volunteering at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice is evidence of Kimberley’s compassion for vulnerable and disadvantaged people, something she has experienced within her own family.
Not only has Kimberley’s dad been diagnosed with cancer, but two of her grandparents suffering from heart problems, while her great-grandmother has dementia.
Despite this Lucy Conley, of Bourne Academy, said: “Kimberley is a thoughtful, insightful and caring student who has always been interested in supporting other students in our school.
“She is highly driven and motivated in all aspects of her work, committed to making a difference in the lives of others and ultimately wants to progress towards a career which is rewarding and one where she can help people who may be vulnerable.
“Kimberley has had to deal with the consequences of illness within her family whilst carrying on with her studies, but this has made her an asset to Bourne Academy.”