A dewsbury teenager has spoken about how a war veteran’s example helped her cope with anxiety after she was involved in a car crash earlier this year.
Fourteen-year-old Tear 10 pupil Emily Berry spoke as a statue of Leeds war veteran Simon Brown was unveiled at his former school as a “symbol” of the sacrifices made by soldiers.
Ex-Woodkirk Academy pupil Mr Brown, from Morley, was shot in the face by a sniper in 2006 while serving in Iraq.
The statue, created by Help for Heroes and formerly exhibited at Trafalgar Square in London, was dedicated to his old school in Tingley.
Around 100 children gathered in the school’s hall for a special assembly ahead of the statue unveiling, as youngsters gave a variety of poetry readings and thank you messages to former pupil Mr Brown.
Emily bravely spoke of her struggles with anxiety after being involved in a car crash earlier this year.
“It has really affected me,” she said.
“But when I hear your story it really makes me thing about the bigger things that people go through.”
Emily said watching Mr Brown’s fundraising videos for Help for Heroes had inspired her.
She added: “It made me want to be like you one day, someone who inspires people to keep going and do things that they are scared of.”
Former pupil and Leeds Rhinos star Steve Ward also attended the ceremony, at which the school’s brass band performed.
“It’s a massive inspiration to me, words can’t really do it justice,” he said.
“The statue is something that people can look to now for inspiration.”
Mr Brown said the messages in the assembly were touching for him.
“It was really nice to get their opinions and how they read into it all”, he said.
“I didn’t want the statue here as a monument to me, but as a symbol to those from the school who have served and it’s nice that they now have a monument.
“I wasn’t the greatest student but I have done well by working hard and that’s a symbol that if you put the graft in, there’s always going to be an opportunity for you.”