Tadcaster pupil wins school’s Purple Heart Award

Riverside School hosts 2nd awards ceremony in memory of Sarah Emmott

A Riverside School pupil who arrived in North Yorkshire last year from the Ukraine has been awarded the Purple Heart Award by his fellow students and teachers in recognition of his resilience and determination.

Danil Denysenko, age 7, originally from Kiev, fled the war with his mum in 2021, leaving behind his home, his father, and his friends.

At the time he had been unable to speak the language. However, in the last year he has become almost fluent in English, he has settled into a new home in the local area, he has made new friends and adapted to life in the school and community showing bravery against the odds.

In recognition of his achievements, he has been awarded the meaningful award which was launched last year in memory of eight-year-old Sarah Emmott who sadly passed away in September 2021, having battled through serious illness throughout her life after she was born with a severe genetic kidney disease.

The ceremony which took place last month – the day after what would have been Sarah’s 10th birthday – was held in Riverside School’s new Garden of Reflection, which was built in her memory and themed around her favourite book, 'Each, Peach, Pear, Plum' by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.

The award itself is a trophy which was presented to Danil by Sarah's mum, Ellie, and dad, Andy, as part of a whole school assembly. The award is given to a child within the school who has been nominated by staff and pupils.

Jennifer McCombe, Assistant Headteacher at Riverside School which forms part of the STAR Multi Academy Trust, said: “This is the second time that we have hosted these awards in memory of Sarah.

“Those of us who knew her well saw her energy, bravery and strength shine out every day, and we wanted to do something in her honor and to celebrate those same attributes and qualities in other pupils here at Riverside.

“Danil has been so brave and determined since he joined us last year, and his classmates and the staff were unanimous in choosing him as this year’s Purple Heart Award winner.”

Ellie and Andy Emmott added: " It means so much to us for this award to continue in memory of Sarah and in recognition of children succeeding in their life beyond the classroom, against the odds,

just as Sarah did. It's been so overwhelming to see the whole school dressed in purple, a sea of her favourite colour.”

In addition to the launch of the awards, Riverside School also created a memorial garden for Sarah’s classmates which was completed last year.

Featuring a story scene and sensory area it includes contributions from the school community and is based on some of Sarah’s favourite things, such as the colour (purple), and her favourite book (Each Peach, Pear, Plum by Janet and Allen Ahlberg).

It provides a beautiful reflective space in the Year 4 garden area where Sarah’s friends and teachers are able to spend some quiet time remembering her.