Blackpool pupil earns Duke of Edinburgh photo reward for resilience club idea

A Blackpool pupil who set up a school club to boost resilience has been hailed by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.

Corron Barnes, 15, from South Shore Academy is one of just nine D of E participants nationally chosen to take part in the scheme’s reward - a masterclass with professional photographers, to give young people who wouldn’t usually have the opportunity a chance to tell stories.

He was chosen thanks to his work in setting up and leading a resilience club at his school designed to help new starters and other pupils have a safe space to build confidence and feel supported.

The club offers them a place to meet and socialise with a range of activities, as well as to talk about mental health issues and wellbeing.

Corron Barnes leading the activities at the South Shore Academy resilience club

Corron, who helps his mum care for his 10-year-old twin sisters who have learning disabilities, said he was inspired to start the club because when he moved up from primary to secondary school he was nervous and worried about potential bullying.

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He approached his teachers with his idea and started it in Year 8. When he began his D of E Bronze course in Year 10, he used the course as part of the volunteering task for the award and the club provided opportunities for others to do volunteering to help them get their D of E.

As a result, Corron was chosen to take part in a video film promoting D of E and then won a place on the photography course.

Corron Barnes who was chosen by the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme to take part in a photography masterclass course

Corron said: “When I came to high school I was really nervous and worried. There was the overall fear about being in a bigger place, loads of classrooms and the independence, it was a big change from primary. In Year 8 I came up with the idea of forming the club and we started with other students and teachers.”

The club eventually took off and has around 30 members, doing teamwork activities, talking about transitioning schools and what would be beneficial to help them.

His teacher Amy Leach said: “A lot of the children were quite nervous or shy and the club offered activities but also the chance to simply chat, talk about things in a safe place, play bingo together or just simply eat lunch together. It’s been really amazing.”

Half way through his D of E course, Miss Leach asked if a few would like to tell their stories for D of E and they sent a film crew down to film. His story was so powerful as he had overcome so much to achieve his club that they then told him about the D of E photography course.

Corron Barnes with his twin sisters Emily and Daisy who he helps care for with his mum

He said: “A few weeks later a huge Nikon camera worth £500 arrived, and every Thursday I joined the online course to gain skills. They are planning to make an exhibition late this year.”

Miss Leach added: “The Duke of Edinburgh award started in school three years ago and is fully embedded now, giving loads of pupils opportunities they would not otherwise get.

"Corron has been amazing and the others that have helped out in resilience club have gained so many skills that will be useful in life.”

A D of E spokesman said: “Corron is amazing in all he has achieved.

"We have a five year strategy of reaching out to a million young people across the UK, particularly those who are from marginalised backgrounds.

"The resilience fund we have to help schools is part of that, we are delighted that Corron has been able to take part in the DofE due to that fund and we cannot wait to see what he achieves next.”