The parents of three Panathletes honoured at the London Children of Courage awards have expressed their immense pride after watching their children take to the stage.

Romeo Itonga, 12, Aminata Kalokoh, nine, and 17-year-old Jamie Brown were deserved recipients of awards presented by TV presenters Carrie and David Grant at the Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane.

The awards, supported by St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation, recognise the incredible achievements of children, young people and their families and carers, often in the face of significant adversity.

20180503DT_SJP_0278Romeo (right), from Dagenham in east London, received the junior Outstanding Bravery award. He competed in Panathlon’s London Primary Final at the Copper Box Arena last year, overcoming severe physical disabilities resulting from painful sickle cell anemia. The condition results in swelling in his hands and feet and bacterial infections.

When he was younger, the attacks were life-threatening and caused him to lose some of his fingers. He has regular blood transfusions, gets fatigued easily and his emotional wellbeing suffers.

Romeo’s mother said: “We loved every minute of the ceremony. The best part of the evening was seeing the smiles on each child as they received their awards. I know this award ceremony will tremendously improve the children’s confidence and self-esteem.

“Thanks for the amazing work, for recognising the difficulties children face in their everyday lives yet still thriving to live a normal life. I would like to congratulate and thank everyone that made the evening possible. Thanks for the delightful and wonderful experience. Thanks once again for shining a light in each of the children’s lives.”

Aminata, who is originally from Sierra Leone but now lives with her adoptive family in Bromley, suffers from physical and communication problems, having been diagnosed with Global Delay Development and Dystonia. She also has an unidentified neurological condition, semi-purposive movements and poor balance.

AminataAminata (pictured left) communicates via an iPad, sign language and gestures and has made tremendous progress since she has been attending Marjorie McClure School. Like Romeo, she competed in last year’s London Primary Final at the Copper Box Arena. She received a Special Recognition award at the St. James’s Place awards.

Iain McClean, Aminata’s adoptive father, commented: “St James Place put on a great event to celebrate the achievements of all the award winners and I’m sure all the parents and carers were as proud as we were for all of them. Massive thanks for the opportunity that Panathlon have provided for Aminata to do what she likes best – sports and competition.

“Aminata insisted on going to school the next morning to show off her award to her classmates and teachers, and then to church on Sunday to do the same again.”

“Aminata is very proud of herself and we are sure this will inspire her to keep striving to do her best. It was a special evening for us as a family, such a positive vibe and we enjoyed every minute of it.”

Jamie won the Sporting Achievement award at the London Children of Courage awards, just the latest of a long list of trophies and awards the 17-year-old has accumulated.

ST7_1543He is one of the best young boccia players in the country and has taken part in the Lord’s Taverners Boccia Championships and came sixth in the national Heathcote Cup. He was part of the winning Croydon team at the showpiece Panathlon London Final in 2015 and last year had the honour of reading the Panathlon oath at the Copper Box Arena.

Jamie (pictured right) has cerebral palsy, uses an electric wheelchair and is non-verbal, using in iPad to communicate.

His mother, Kerry Brown, said: “Hearing Jamie’s name was unbelievable. From a baby who struggled to do things such as lift his head on his own, the place where Jamie is now is truly inspirational. We couldn’t be more proud of Jamie and everything he has achieved.”

“We would like to say a huge thank you Tony Waymouth [Panathlon’s Chief Operating Officer] for nominating Jamie for this award and to St. James’s Place Charitable Foundation for hosting such a spectacular evening.”

“Jamie would also like to say thank you to both Panathlon and St James’s Place Charitable Foundation for giving him the opportunity to succeed and do what he loves best. He said getting the award was an amazing feeling and says a huge thank you to everyone who has supported him to get to where he is.

“Jamie hopes that he has inspired other young athletes to walk in his footsteps and achieve what they want to achieve. Anything is possible and if you put your mind to it you’ll definitely achieve it.

“On the night of the London Children of Courage Awards it was great to hear and meet all the inspiration young people who have such different but amazing stories. It was such a welcoming atmosphere and all walks of life were welcomed into celebrating the amazing young people we have in London and the great things they do, not to just make themselves better but make their communities better too.”

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