Royal award for top students

Two A-grade students from west Norfolk had a private audience with the Queen to receive special awards for their academic achievements.

Two A-grade students from west Norfolk had a private audience with the Queen today to receive special awards for their academic achievements.

Rebecca Edwards and Christopher Vingoe met the Queen at Sandringham House after she attended morning service at the Church of St Mary Magdalene on the royal estate.

Both students had achieved six outstanding A level results at school but for Christopher, 19, and his parents, his achievement was all the more poignant because as a child he had suffered massive head injuries in an accident.

When he was just six, Christopher was knocked over as he crossed a road in Thetford. He spent five days in a coma and had a blood clot on his brain. At the time doctors did not know how much permanent damage the accident had caused.

His recovery has amazed doctors as research has since shown that other people with similar injuries had not recovered as strongly.

Christopher, from King's Lynn, who went to the town's King Edward VII School (KES), was awarded the Queen's Royal Gold Medal and was joined by his parents Lawrence and Michelle.

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His father said: “We just feel blessed and it is a miracle how well he recovered. We are just so very proud of him.”

Christopher has taken a two-year education break to work as a missionary, then hopes to go to Cambridge to study medicine and eventually work as a consultant in neurosurgery.

He described meeting the Queen as surreal, adding: “She was lovely and very easy to chat to. She asked about the mission and the origin of my family.”

He added: “I think because of the accident I want to make the most of what I've got.”

Headteacher Mike Douglass said: “It is a fantastic achievement and though lots of our students do very well, Christopher has done outstandingly well to have achieved six grade A's.”

Former Springwood High School student Rebecca, 18, from King's Lynn, was presented with the Queen's Prize, a book of her choice which was signed by the monarch.

Rebecca, who received the award for her three A and two AS level grades, is currently studying a joint honour degree in biology and chemistry at Durham University. She plans to work in research after completing a PHD.

She said: “It was very nice to meet the Queen. I was nervous before, but when it came to the time I was quite calm. The Queen was very friendly to chat to.”

Her parents, Colin and Carol, and her older sister Julie joined her. Mr Edwards said: “We are just so very, very proud of her.”

Rebecca is also heavily involved in the girl guides, a dedicated musician and also plays rugby.

Peter Hopkins, headteacher at Springwood, said: “We are immensely proud of her. She is hardworking and a dedicated student but there are a million other things good about her.”

Earlier in the day, more than 150 well-wishers had gathered at Sandringham to see the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their house guests attend the church service.

Youngsters presented the Queen with flowers following the service although little Emily Winnett aged five from Poringland near Norwich gave the Queen a box of chocolates and a card.