Windsor High School Year 11 student Bethany Silvers is the 2019 recipient of the Natalie Burton Memorial Award. This award is intended for a recipient who has faced challenging circumstances but, through their application and determination, has overcome this adversity to succeed. The Award is administered by Hawkesbury City Council on behalf of the Burton, Turner and Lawrance families.
Yolanta Calvert, Careers Adviser at Windsor High School, who submitted the nomination, said Bethany was a very worthy recipient of the award.
"Bethany has an acquired brain injury from an incident that happened when she was an infant. Due to her intellectual disability, Bethany needs extra time to process information and she also has some problems with retention of information," Mrs Calvert said.
"Bethany has also had to cope with deteriorating eyesight over the last few years to the point where she is now legally blind. In the last year, due to family difficulties, Bethany moved to living independently at Platform, a youth organisation which has provided her with long term temporary accommodation."
Due to her health and family issues, Bethany is undertaking pathways to the Higher School Certificate, which means she is completing the HSC over four years
Despite these many obstacles, Bethany is still achieving average and above average grades and maintain a cheerful and enthusiastic demeanour.
"At a time when most teenagers are coping with pimples and wondering what to wear, Bethany is coping with very adult problems and showing great resiliency every time she suffers a setback," Mrs Calvert said.
As Mrs Calvert explained, Bethany has shown great maturity and has become a role model for students with a disability. She has a sharp focus on her goal to study at University and she has not veered from that path. She demonstrates courage, resiliency and strength of purpose beyond her age.
"I have known Bethany throughout her school years and I stand in awe of her achievements against great odds. Her very persistence at school to gain her HSC, her goal to become educated and reach her full potential, despite her circumstances and disability, is an example to us all," Mrs Calvert said.
The Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Barry Calvert, presented the Award to Bethany at a Windsor High School presentation.
As a recipient of the Natalie Burton Award, Bethany received a trophy, certificate and $200 prize money.
The Natalie Burton Memorial Award was established in 2004. Natalie Burton was a remarkable individual who died from cancer in March 2003 at the age of 32. The purpose of the Award is to provide a means of allowing Natalie's life and her extraordinary achievements to inspire students to overcome adversity in their own lives.
Despite being diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumour at 25, Natalie continued to follow her dreams of travelling and adventure, climbing lower levels of the Himalayas and cycling around Australia and overseas.
Natalie Burton was an outstanding local student. She completed her HSC exam as Dux of Colo High School, gaining the highest HSC result in the Hawkesbury District in 1987. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Science (Veterinary) and Bachelor of Veterinary Science, both with First Class Honours from the University of Sydney.