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Student who missed months of classes due to illness receives A*

PUBLISHED: 13:56 17 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:19 17 August 2018

Maria Sheperd after receiving her A* A-level grade in Spanish. PHOTO: Victoria Pertusa

Maria Sheperd after receiving her A* A-level grade in Spanish. PHOTO: Victoria Pertusa

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A teenager has achieved an A* grade A-level in Spanish, despite 50pc school attendance due to a rare condition.

Maria Shepherd received her results alongside her fellow Wymondham High Academy students on Thursday, but despite completing just one A-level, the 18-year-old has more to be proud of than most.

Miss Shepherd, from Hingham, suffers from the little-known but chronic condition called postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS).

It affects the nervous system and causes a drop in blood supply to the heart and brain when the sufferer is upright, forcing the heart to race to compensate, and causing Miss Shepherd to faint dozens of times a day.

This means she has to spend much of her time lying down and someone must be with her 24 hours a day.

Marie Shepherd from Hingham shortly after being diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS). Pictured with her family l-r : Alice Willmoth, Leia Shepherd, Corrina Willmoth, Maria SHepherd, Ewan Downes, Chris Shepherd.Marie Shepherd from Hingham shortly after being diagnosed with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS). Pictured with her family l-r : Alice Willmoth, Leia Shepherd, Corrina Willmoth, Maria SHepherd, Ewan Downes, Chris Shepherd.

Miss Shepherd said: “I am in shock. I can’t believe I got these results.

“I only did one A-level because in the first term of sixth form I became ill with autonomic dysfunction, PoTS, chronic fatigue and chronic pain and memory loss.

“Consequently I could only manage one and I have 50pc attendance, so I actually did a lot of work from my home and when I was well enough I came to school, but my attendance was so low I’m absolutely thrilled.”

Lauren Sparrow, her Spanish teacher, said: “When I first met Maria in year 11 she was really sporty, active, and did lots of sports clubs.

Maria Shepherd, before she was diagnosed with PoTS, receiving sports awards from Wymondham High School.  Picture: Corrina WillmothMaria Shepherd, before she was diagnosed with PoTS, receiving sports awards from Wymondham High School. Picture: Corrina Willmoth

“When I started teaching her in year 12 she’d been off for a little bit and had things that we thought were panic attacks and fainting episodes.

“She’s missed a lot of school but she’s worked so hard, she’s literally got the most positive outlook I’ve ever known in a student.

“She’s been amazing at catching up on any work that she’s missed and I’m just really pleased that she got her A* today because she really deserves it.”

Miss Shepherd will stay at Wymondham High to do biology, and will also do a languages course with Open University.

She said: “I had to drop sports studies because I wasn’t well enough to do it so the Open University course will supplement the third A-level.

“I would love to go to Warwick University to study languages. Eventually I would like to become an MFL teacher or a translator.”

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