A COURAGEOUS teen has won the Inspirational Youth prize at the Pride of Essex awards.

Renee Lewis-Driver, 16, who was diagnosed with a rare lung disease at eight-weeks-old, was presented with the award for inspiring her community.

The former Stanway School pupil passed her seven GCSE exams this summer and won a school award for achieving despite her challenges.

She was nominated by her assistant head of house at the school, Carolyn Harvey, who said it had been a privilege to watch Renee grow-up.

She said: "I feel honoured to have been able to witness her mature into a delightful and generous young lady.

"Renee is so worthy of a Pride of Essex award she is a real life hero and has left me feeling truly humbled."

"The first memory I have of her is the most dazzling smile I have ever seen together with her adorable little giggle, which I witnessed many many times during her time as a student."

After Renee's diagnosis, her parents were told she may not make it to adulthood without a heart and lung transplant but she has proved the doctors wrong.

However she still needs oxygen every night and it's likely her future will consist of medication and hospital appointments.

She was one of 30 people across Essex who received an award at the ceremony in Chelmsford last week.

They are given to people who have shown courage and made an outstanding achievement in the face of adversity.

Renee has now moved on to study childcare at Colchester Institute and her mother, Stacey Lewis-Driver, said she was extremely proud of her daughter.

Mrs Lewis-Driver said: "This is such a great thing for Renee - all of her determination and hard work has really paid off.

"She's been through so much but she's so happy, so kind, so smiley and she just wants to get on with life and do as well as she possibly can.

"It's traumatic and upsetting for any parent whose child is unwell but Renee is such an inspiration."

The awards began in 1993 and celebrate those who have overcome huge difficulties with determination.

Mrs Lewis-Driver added: "The evening as a whole was really brilliant.

"There were so many incredible people with fantastic stories to tell and it was such a privilege to be there."