TOP try scorer and Newcastle Falcons academy player Guy Pepper was celebrating after converting hard work in the classroom into a clutch of 10 GCSEs.

The 16-year-old Barnard Castle School student recently returned from a ‘life-changing’ tour of South Africa where he not only helped the first XV secure four out of four victories but also worked to improve the lives of orphans.

Guy has played rugby for most of his life following in the footsteps of father Martin, second master at the school but also a former player with Harlequins and captain of England Juniors, and brother Max, who is about to leave to play for a club in New Zealand.

The No7 forward also plays for County Durham and was talent spotted by Falcons two seasons ago.

Looking forward to the new season with school, county and the Falcons he expects to be inspired by a strong England performance at the forthcoming World Cup in Japan and is delighted with the prospect of working with Barnard Castle School’s new master of rugby former England and Northampton Saints scrum half Lee Dickson.

“I’m pleased with my results, especially the 9 in PE, and will be staying at Barnard Castle School Sixth Form to study maths, chemistry and PE,” said Guy, of Eggleston, Teesdale.

“After my A Levels, I’m also hoping to have a year out in New Zealand playing club rugby. The South African trip was amazing, really life-changing. We had some very tough games but we all rose to the challenge and I was delighted to be top try scorer with eight.

“Conditions were eye-opening, especially in the poorer areas. The children in the orphanage were just so happy to see us and even though they had nothing were always cheerful, which certainly helped us appreciate how lucky we are.”

TEAM GB para-sprinter India Oates was also quick to thank her school as she collected her nine GCSEs by donating an official shirt to her headmaster Tony Jackson.

India has just competed in the World Para Junior Championships in Switzerland and for her country at the Manchester Internationals, where she ran adult competitors, including a world record holder and Olympic and Commonwealth champions, to a close fourth.

Ranked second in the country and seventh in the world for the 100m and 200m T35 events, India, of Barnard Castle, had cut down on her training to study for her GCSEs.

Born in Newcastle’s RVI Hospital nine weeks early with her twin Amelia, India was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and now competes in T35 competitions, which are for athletes who are affected in all four limbs.

Her disability has never prevented her performing and with personal bests of 16.14 seconds and 33.63 for the 100m and 200m, respectively, she has always been one of the fastest para-athletes in the world.

Last December she was selected for the Paralympic Futures Academy and is now in the squad for World Para Junior Championship events.

Coached by Darlington Harriers’ Helen Bowles, who attends the Futures Academy weekends and competitions with India, she is also trained in strength, conditioning and recovery by Barnard Castle School coach Andy Woodward.

“I do not know what I would do without school as the facilities and support are brilliant,” she said. “So I wanted to say thank you by donating an official Team GB shirt. My dream remains to compete at the Paralympics, either in 2020 in Tokyo or 2024 in Paris.”

India plans to stay on at Barnard Castle School Sixth Form to study A levels in religious studies, PE and psychology. She then hopes to read a degree at Loughborough University, which is also home to the country’s Sports High Performance Centre.

EXAM results were music to the ears of three successful students. Oboist Evie Brenkley, of Barnard Castle, gained 12 GCSEs including nine 9s, one of which was in music.

Pianist and trombonist Matthew Forster, of Manfield managed 11 GCSEs including one 9 and five eights while euphonium player Thomas Dalton, of Dalton, near Richmond, secured ten including four 8s.

TOP performing student Mark Nicholson was pleased with his 10 GCSEs, including 9s and 8s which he gained whilst tackling health issues surrounding a rare genetic condition.

Mark, of Gainford, was born with Marfan Syndrome, a condition that left him with a badly twisted spine and severely restricted chest cavity affecting his heart and breathing.

The teenager has undergone surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in which two titanium bars and 27 screws were inserted to straighten his spine, a move that saw him grow 10cm in height, while his chest was completely reconstructed.

Mark said: “I’ve loved my time at Barney and have had a lot of support from the school and my friends. I looking forward to staying at sixth form to study maths, further maths, physics and French.”

Mark’s mum, teacher Lucie Nicholson, said: “The school and his friends have been fantastic and have kept a close watch on Mark since he was at Prep School. It is such a warm, welcoming and accepting school and no one has treated Mark any differently for his condition.”

Ryan Liu, who gained two 9s, three 8s and a 7 was also celebrating completing the full two year A Level maths course alongside his GCSEs and securing grade A, thanks to a bespoke timetable designed for him by the school.

KEEN footballer Joe Roff, of Gainford scored 11 GCSEs in total including nine 9s and an A in additional mathematics. The Bishop Auckland centre back will study maths, physics and French at A level.

More than 14 per cent of all GCSE and IGCSE results achieved by Barnard Castle School students were awarded the top marks of 9 or 8 (equivalent to former A*), with 87 per cent of pupils receiving grades 9-4 (equivalent to the former A*-C).

Tony Jackson, Headmaster at Barnard Castle School, said: “It has been another positive year of examination results at Barney. There have been some outstanding individual performances; both by students who have achieved 8s and 9s across the board, and those who have achieved above and beyond their target grades.

“We are committed to developing the character of our young people by teaching values, such as humility, respect and leadership, throughout their educational journey at Barney, which help to shape and support their future careers. I would like to congratulate all our students on their results and wish them all the very best for the future.”