MIRFIELD teenager Harry Crowther scaled new heights last week after winning a community award.
Harry, who suffers from a rare form of the genetic disorder Progeria, was presented with the inaugural Arqiva Emley Moor Community Award at the top of the UK’s tallest TV mast – 275m above the West Yorkshire countryside.
Organised by Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Simon Reevell, the new award recognises and celebrates the contributions of local heroes.
Fourteen-year-old Harry is one of only a handful of people in the world to suffer from Atypical Progeria Syndrome (APS).
The disorder means that the Castle Hall student is ageing five times faster than his contemporaries and he experiences many of the arthritic, cardiovascular and respiratory ailments more common to old age.
Nevertheless, he is renowned for his cheerful, positive outlook and his determination to live life as fully as possible.
The new award was sponsored by Arqiva, who handle TV, radio and mobile phone signals across the UK from their HQ at the base of the Grade II Listed landmark, which towers over the region.
Mr Reevell made the presentation in the circular viewing room at the top of the mast as Harry and his family took in the wide-ranging views.
On a clear day you can see as far as the Pennine moors to the east and the Vale of York to the west.
Harry was joined by his mum and dad, Sharron and John, and 17-year-old brother Jack. Older sister Emma could not make it as she is away in the USA for the summer.
The presentation party made it to the top of the mast in a tiny steel lift that takes eight minutes to make the journey up inside the concrete tower, which is normally off-limits to the public.
Harry was given a framed certificate and also received a digital radio from Arqiva.
He said: “It’s an awesome experience to be up at the top of the mast. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
“It’s even better than I thought it would be. I’ve been looking for our house from up here.
“Out of all the people who were nominated I never expected I would win. I don’t think I have done anything special; I just get on with things."
Mum Sharron said: “It’s so humbling to see him get praised. He just gets on with his life and finds it very hard to understand why people think he is special.”
Harry actively fundraises for charities including Progeria UK, Progeria Family Circle and Great Ormond Street Hospital and has another fundraising day coming up on August 1.
Last Friday’s award was just the latest in a series of honours for Harry, who attends Castle Hall School.
He has also received the Elizabeth Peacock Award for outstanding achievement in scouting, an honour usually reserved for adults, as well as the Chief Scout Award for meritorious conduct.
Last year he ran a leg of the Olympic torch relay and has shown great courage in raising awareness of his condition by visiting schools, care homes and local shows with his torch to talk about the challenges he has faced throughout his life.
Most recently he was highly commended by Kids Count, a children and young people’s think tank, in their ‘Inspire the House’ awards which took place in Parliament.
The judging panel also chose three highly-commended candidates. Peter Jagger was nominated for his dedication to the life of Upper Hopton, particularly its cricket club; Anne Thornton for her contribution to a variety of groups, including local scouting, the Disabled People’s Electronic Village Hall and the Dewsbury West Community Centre; and Pat Ainsworth for her marathon-running and fundraising achievements.
Mr Reevell said: “Harry is a deserving winner and I am delighted he has become the first winner of what we hope will become an annual award.
“I know the judges and myself were overwhelmed by the entries. There were some truly remarkable stories in there, about truly remarkable people.
“I know when I rang up one or two of them to congratulate them they were surprised. Not one of them thinks they have done anything special.”