A student who has endured more than a decade of hospital visits and treatment for rheumatoid arthritis has been recognised by his school for his determination and resilience.

Daniel Wright

Daniel Wright has remained positive despite suffering intense pain and having his movement curtailed by the debilitating condition.

The 18-year-old was even unable to receive the award at his school, Bede Academy, in Blyth, in person as he was recovering from a hip replacement operation. 

His hip had failed within only a year, causing severe pain and leaving him virtually immobile. It followed the arthritis affecting his left foot and ankle, his right shoulder, both knees, his right elbow and his upper jaw. 

Despite it all, and his missing large parts of his education, Daniel gained nine GCSEs two years ago and has just heard that he has achieved merits in double BTEC in engineering and BTEC ICT. He was also the first student in his year to secure an apprenticeship, working in IT with the NHS. 

Principal at Bede Academy Gwyneth Evans said: “Daniel is a wonderful inspiration to everyone at Bede. He has gone through a great deal but has refused to be beaten by his rheumatoid arthritis. He thoroughly deserved our award that recognises grit and determination.” 

Miss Evans added: “Daniel has had to work extra hard through missing lessons due to hospital stays, but he has done it all with a cheerful attitude and a smile on his face. It is good news that his hip operation went well and we all hope that he can look forward now to starting his apprenticeship. We wish him all the very best for the future.” 

Daniel, of Melville Avenue, South Beach, was seven when he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis following blood tests taken when he became poorly following a streptococcus throat infection. 

His dad Jason explained: “He was put under several doctors and started a lot of different treatments. The doctors said it was one of the worst cases they’d seen. They struggled to control his temperature flare-ups. He was on steroids as well and they’d get him stabilised for three months then the drugs would stop working and his temperature would flare again.” 

Unlike osteoarthritis, which is most commonly linked with joint inflammation in old age, the much less common rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that targets the joints, causing inflammation and pain which can spread and lead to the bone and cartilage breaking down. 

Having been a talented footballer as a little boy, Daniel’s first joint to fail was his left foot when he was nine. 

“It became really painful to move it and now my left ankle has all fused together so I can only move it up and down,” Daniel explained. 

In one of the darkest periods, he ended up in intensive care as his body suffered severe flare-ups. 

“They wanted us to send him to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and put him in a bubble, shut down all his systems then bring him back again. We were told there was a 50 per cent chance he wouldn’t come back, so we refused, but they were running out of options. They pumped lots of drugs into him and eventually he pulled through,” remembered Jason. 

Originally a marine engineer, he gave up his job to look after Daniel with his wife Wendy and now the couple, who have a daughter Jessica who is also at Bede Academy, run a domestic cleaning company. 

“As a family you just have to cope,” said Jason. “We’ve changed our lifestyle to fit around the caring and hospital stays.” 

Daniel has to inject himself daily and have a drug infusion every month at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle to keep his immune system in check, as well as regularly taking painkillers. He has crutches and has been in wheelchair but prefers not to use them. 

“I’m quite stable at the moment because of the injections and infusions, and it’s been a lot better since my hip replacement. I was walking with a limp but they’ve lengthened my leg as well with lots of packing in the joint,” said Daniel, who, now he is 18, is allowed to take adult medication. 

Jason explained: “It’s definitely opened a door for us in terms of the range of treatments. They all do the same thing but act in a different way because your body becomes used to them. 

“Once the joints become affected they can’t be repaired. It’s worse than cancer because it’s not curable.  

“We had to go with the hip replacement now because there would have been no bone left at all if we’d waited. But Daniel can only have two operations in his lifetime and the results only last 15 years,” added Jason. 

In spite of this, the family has been buoyed by the successful outcome of the hip replacement so far. 

Daniel said: “You just have to get on with it. My joints crack now but I couldn’t walk down the street before. Now I’m getting down to the beach again.”


STUDENTS spent an away day from school digging deep and doing their bit for the community and local environment.

Amelia Elliott, Charlotte Robb, Grace Courtney and Olivia Barker spend Bede Academy Environment Day at Belsay Hall

Amelia Elliott, Charlotte Robb, Grace Courtney and Olivia Barker spend Bede Academy Environment Day at Belsay Hall

(L-R) Alistair Dickson, Cain Davidson, Matt Hanlan and Scott Welsh, from Bede Academy, Blyth, help out out Belsay Hall gardens

(L-R) Alistair Dickson, Cain Davidson, Matt Hanlan and Scott Welsh, from Bede Academy, Blyth, help out out Belsay Hall gardens

Bede Academy student Lee Robinson all ready for a day in the garden

Bede Academy student Lee Robinson all ready for a day in the garden










Environment Day for Years 7 and 8 at Bede Academy, in Blyth, saw students litter picking at the beach, restoring play areas in parks and helping in the gardens of historic properties.

One group headed to Belsay Hall, in Northumberland, to weed the overgrown nursery garden, which is used for bringing on young and replacement plants.

The students also got a guided tour of the grounds with head gardener Jo Harrigan, who has followed in a family tradition after her father Paul held the role for 18 years.

“We have 40 acres of gardens and one of the biggest collections of rare plants in the country,” said Jo.

“I explained to the students the history, how we manage the gardens and that it’s actually fun to get out in a garden. I like to get young people outside and they have been brilliant, asking how they can help and enjoying themselves.”

Kitted out with steel toe-capped boots, gloves and garden tools, the 15 students set to work on head-high thistles on one of the hottest days of the year.

Scott Welsh, 12, of Blyth, said: “It’s been really good fun. I liked walking round the gardens because it was so nice and peaceful.”

Charlotte Robb, 12, of Blyth, added: “I like being outside so I really wanted to come and do this.”

Teacher Laura Street said: “The students have been great. They hung on every word Jo had to say and they have worked really hard, showing a great work ethic and really trying to make a contribution here.”

Other students worked at Blyth and Seaton Sluice beaches, Ridley Park and Isabella fields, in Blyth, and Ministeracres Christian retreat in County Durham.

Singers from Bede Academy, in Blyth, enjoy performing in the choir at their summer concert

Corey Ellis on violin

Corey Ellis on violin

and clarinetists Anna Meggison and Alyssa Pollard

clarinetists Anna Meggison and Alyssa Pollard

Phoebe Harrison on piano

Phoebe Harrison on piano

Choir 4

An audience enjoyed an “evening of excellence” as young musicians took to the stage for a summer concert.

Children at Bede Academy, in Blyth, sang and played a range of string, wind and percussion instruments in the annual showcase of talent.

Headteacher Irene Watson, for whom it was the last concert before she retires, said the standard of playing and singing was increasing each year at the academy, where all children have the opportunity to learn an instrument or to join a choir. 

“We have got some very, very accomplished players now which is down to testament to their teachers and the children practising so hard,” she said. 

Drummers Nathaniel Allen and Dylan Parker opened the concert followed by clarinetists Anna Meggison and Alyssa Pollard and flautists Elize Aydeniz, Abigail Stafford and Charlotte Wakenshaw. 

A popular instrument at the academy, further talent on the flute was shown by Alysse Clough, Thea Hillman, Olivia Little, Rebecca Middleton, Cora Birch, Lauren Fletcher, Sophia Wilson and Rachel Bate. 

Vocal trio Grace Harrison, Arwen Jenkins and Eve Turner performed You’ve Got a Friend in Me from Toy Story, and the upper choir later gave a rousing performance of Gary Barlow’s Sing. 

Joe Beall, Charlotte Coppen, William Robinson, Lilla Richmond, Corey Ellis and Eleanor Kerr played the violin, and Aimee Rutherford and Lois Straughan gave the concert a North East flavour with traditional regional favourites on the penny whistle. 

Pianists Denny Shy, Phoebe Harrison and Eleanor Kerr demonstrated who they have achieved grade three and four, and there were guitar performances by Evie Charlton, Evan Helsop, Austin Newman, Eddie Hogg, Harvey Jackson and Joseph Killington. 

The concert was rounded off by Joe Cooper and James Shutt on the drums and the Primary Beat percussion group led by Finlay Scott. 

Thanking the peripatetic teachers and music lead David Tallent for their dedication to the children, Mrs Watson added: “It really has been an evening of excellence. I am so pleased for the children because they have shown quiet inner confidence that’s very well earned. Everyone demonstrated that hard work and commitment to making music and singing pays off.”

Mr Tallent said: “It’s worth every minute to see how far the children have come on over the years, and I also thank the parents for encouraging their children when things get tough. This was one of the most confident concerts we’ve had.”