TRIBUTE is being paid to four inspirational youngsters.

They are receiving recognition, through the annual Danny Ryan Memorial Awards, for their battle against adversity.

Accolades will be handed out at a special family evening at Victoria Hall, in Keighley, on Friday, February 28.

The awards scheme was launched following the setting-up in 1984 of a fund in memory of Mr Ryan, a retired deputy headteacher at Holy Family School in Keighley who died that year.

Its aim was to help young people from the community battling against illness or disability.

Since its foundation, the fund has distributed nearly £100,000 to worthy recipients.

This year’s award winners, nominated by staff at their schools, will share a total of £2,000.

Darren Gibbins, 14, is a year-nine student at Holy Family School.

His citation states: “Although suffering from dyslexia and other problems, this young man excels and is making wonderful progress in his education. He is determined to succeed and is always happy in his work. Darren is also playing an active role in the school production of Mary Poppins.”

Dylan Spencer, six, a year-one pupil at St Joseph’s Primary School, Ingrow, is being recognised for how he “cheerfully” copes with epilepsy.

“He has made considerable progress in school – especially in speech and socialising,” his citation says. “This brave, bubbly little boy is always full of laughter, thoroughly enjoying life.”

Seven-year-old Harley Harker is in year three at St Anne’s Primary School, Keighley.

Her citation says: “This brave little girl has experienced many challenging problems in her life and in spite of all, she is making good progress in her education.

“Harley is an active member of the drama club and loves baking.”

The fourth recipient is Martyna Szyfer, 11, a year-six pupil at Our Lady of Victories Primary School, Guard House. She is described as an inspiration. “Despite being born prematurely, suffering from cerebral palsy and experiencing difficulty walking, she is a great inspiration to her fellow pupils. She sets a fine example to all, being most active in dancing, singing and horse riding, for which she recently gained a special award. Martyna’s broad,cheerful smiles bring sunshine and warmth into the lives of so many.”

When the group of colleagues and friends of Danny Ryan set-up the memorial fund, they initially organised an Irish festival which featured a number of events and culminated with a dance.

“During the interval at the dance awards were presented to young people who had shown courage in the face of adversity,” said Sean Gilligan, for the Danny Ryan Memorial Group.

“We enjoyed great support from many people and particularly those in the Irish community, so the annual presentation dance took on an Irish flavour based around St Patrick’s Day.

“On some occasions bands from Ireland have been engaged to provide the entertainment.

“Danny’s late widow Eileen and their four sons have been great supporters of the fund and their enthusiasm and encouragement were crucial in ensuring the continuation of the annual awards.

“As the Irish community dwindled and with the death of Eileen, the committee decided it was time for a change of direction.

“Sean Ryan – one of the sons – has recently moved to Keighley and joined the group, and his enthusiasm has helped spur us on to look at the way forward.”

The committee invited the town’s four Catholic schools – Holy Family, Our Lady of Victories, St Anne’s and St Joseph’s – to work in partnership with it and this year the presentation takes on a different look.

The family evening will feature entertainment provided by pupils from each school, as well as the highlight – the handing out of the awards.

The event starts at 6.30pm and will conclude with a disco at about 9.30pm.

Family tickets are £10 each, including a pie and peas supper, and can be obtained from the schools.

Mr Gilligan said the committee was grateful to John Devlin, executive head of the primary schools; Holy Family head Martin Hings; the heads of school at St Anne’s, Paul Booth, Our Lady of Victories, Catherine Mitchell, and St Joseph’s, Andrew Arnold, plus all staff, for their help and support.

Danny Ryan moved to Keighley in 1951 with Eileen after they were married.

They had met in Leeds when Danny was embarking on his teaching career.

The couple initially lived at Ingrow and then moved to Exley Mount.

Danny retired from teaching in 1983, and died the following year.

Eileen was a key supporter of the memorial fund.

She attended the awards presentation each year, handing out the grants.

She died at the Raikes Care Home in Silsden on Christmas Day, 2018, aged 91.