Student who missed months of classes due to illness receives A*
- Credit: Archant
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.
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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.
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'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.
'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.'