If the spirit inside eleven year-old Derry boy Nathan Murphy could be bottled, we could solve the recession in the blink of an eye.
Last week, the cheerful Holy Family pupil was given special recognition by the William Keown trust for his determination not to let his disability get in the way of his day to day life.
Nathan, from Culmore Point, spends much of his time in a wheelchair and uses sticks to get around his family home. Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was a toddler, he’s spent his life to date facing the everyday challenges his disability brings but determined not to let it get in his way.
It was this attitude which prompted his class teacher Ann Higgins to nominate him for a Child of Courage award.
Ann, who’s been teaching Nathan for the past two years says the primary seven pupil is an inspiration to everyone.
“He’s just a wee joy,” she says. “He never makes an excuse for anything and doesn’t let anything get in his way. He’s very popular with his peers and he’s taught them a lot about perseverance and determination.”
Nathan’s mother Una said says couldn’t be more proud of her son. She said learning of his disability at an early age was terrifying.
“Nathan was born full term and was a very healthy baby,” explains Una.
“It was only when he reached 18 months that we realised certain milestones weren’t really happening.
“,When he went for his 18 month check-up we were referred on for him to be looked at and then he was diagnosed. It was horrendous finding out because we knew nothing about the condition and straight away we were just researching on the internet to see what we could find out.”
Una says the support network available to Nathan in school has been crucial to his development and attitude.
“The staff and Mr Matthewson and the wee ones in his class have been brilliant, They’ve just been unbelievable from day one. The family support we’ve had from both sides has been fantastic as well,” she says.
“We couldn’t ask for better and Nathan has loved his time here at Holy Family.”
Nathan, who moves onto St Brigid’s College in Carnhill in September says he’s delighted with his award.
“It was great getting the award. My granny and grandad took me to the hotel in Bangor. It was really good getting the certificate.”
Nathan explains what he faces with his disability everyday but is adamant that he doesn’t let it get him down.
“Sometimes it’s a wee bit hard getting out of bed in the morning but I just get up, get dressed and do my average things. When I’m in school I’m in the wheelchair but in the house I go about on sticks. I try not to let the disability stop me from doing things. You just have to try your best and push yourself and keep it up everyday,” he smiles.
School principal Garry Matthewson says Nathan is an energetic addition to the school and a positive role model to other students.
“Each Friday after school, Nathan can be found in the Holy Family assembly hall taking part in the school’s indoor football league. Furthermore, not only does he take part but his team, Manchester United, are currently sitting proudly on top of the league.
“It comes as no surprise to the staff of Holy Family that Nathan was acknowledged this year.”