Sussex

Brighton teens battle the odds to succeed in A-levels

Syrian refugees Sulaiman Wihba (left) and Elias Badin after collecting their A-level results at Brighton College Image copyright PA
Image caption Syrian refugees Sulaiman Wihba (left) and Elias Badin after collecting their A-level results at Brighton College

Two Syrian refugees with ambitions to become doctors are celebrating after gaining top grades in their A-levels.

They were among several Brighton teenagers who overcame hardship to achieve top results.

One student who needed a year off to battle cancer was determined not to let the disease "take any more" of her life, and achieved three A*s.

Results show A-level grades have increased for the first time in six years.

Sulaiman Wihba and Elias Badin were both given scholarships by Brighton College two years ago after making a "torturous" two-month journey from war-torn Syria.

Mr Wihba, 19, of Hove, East Sussex, got four A* grades in maths further maths, physics and chemistry earning him a place at Queen Mary University of London.

'Overwhelming'

He said: "It's all about payback, being a doctor, helping people. My mum will be so happy.

"My 15-year-old self wouldn't imagine myself here, it's overwhelming. I have been in the UK for two years now, I didn't find it hard to integrate within the new society. I feel really accepted."

Mr Badin, who achieved one A* and three As said it was his "dream" to be studying medicine at Queen Mary University.

Mr Wihba reached the UK by stowing away in a refrigerated van packed with boxes of frozen chips. Mr Badin travelled to Greece on a small boat with 40 refugees packed on board.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Phoebe Pickering succeeded despite needing a year out to battle cancer

Phoebe Pickering, from Brighton, underwent intensive treatment to battle soft tissue Ewing's sarcoma of the kidney before returning to finish off her studies.

The 19-year-old Brighton College student got A*s in Latin, English literature and philosophy and will now study philosophy at Cambridge.

With aspirations of political journalism, she said: "I feel slightly in shock, it hasn't really sunk in yet, I'm very excited.

"The illness had taken so much from my life, I didn't want it to take any more.

"These years determine your whole future and I didn't want it to jeopardise any more."

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