Special award for Aylsham’s Sunday schoolboy

Schoolboy Alex Skinner, who has been spending Sundays at his local library working for the benefit of himself and others, has earned a unique honour.

And his mother has heaped praise on the library service which supported him during 60-plus hours of study, but says she is concerned that it is facing money-saving cuts.

Alex was unexpectedly presented with a special achievement award during the second annual Norfolk Children's University (NCU) graduation ceremony at UEA.

Eight-year-old Alex, a pupil at Aylsham's Bure Valley School, was among more than 200 children from across the county attending the ceremony to collect bronze, silver and gold awards from Louis de Bernieres, award-winning author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin, and NCU chancellor.

The national scheme aims to foster a love of lifelong learning and children collect stamps in a special passport for each hour of study completed at a growing number of accredited 'learning destinations'.

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Alex, who had reached Norfolk gold level, was astonished when his name was called out for a second time during the presentations to collect the county's first-ever special achievement award.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children's services at Norfolk County Council, said it honoured his commitment to developing his own learning, and the learning of others.

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She added: 'He has developed library research sheets for children in years three and four that we hope to be able to use across the county.

' He has taken an idea and run with it and that is exactly what we want to see from Norfolk's children. I was delighted to see him receive his award and hope to see him back next year.'

Since March, Alex has been spending three hours each Sunday in Aylsham Library reading, writing reviews, learning about book classification, and compiling library and history questionnaires.

His mother, Karina Skinner, said she was extremely proud of his achievement, adding: 'I think it also shows how important our libraries are. He couldn't have done this if it hadn't been there, and open on a Sunday. They are too important to be facing a reduction in service. They are such a rich part of our children's lives and their education.'

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