A YEAR 8 pupil described as "a naturally talented sportswoman" has become the first girl to be presented with the Jamie Payne-Ross Award at St Mary's School, Menston.

The award is presented annually at the school in memory of Jamie Payne-Ross who died in a tragic accident in December 1993. In the past, the Award has been presented to a Year 8 boy for outstanding achievement in sport and was presented to the school by Jamie’s mother Colleen and elder brother Adam. Previous presenters of the award include Sir Trevor Brooking, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and the Kaiser Chiefs.

This year, St Mary’s broke with tradition and the award was presented to Danielle Quirke, the first Year 8 girl ever to receive the award in over 20 years.

The award was presented to Danielle by world Thai Boxing Champion, Rachael MacKenzie. Having only started Thai boxing in 2000, Rachael’s hard work and determination paid off when, in 2006, she topped the Women’s Thai Boxing world rankings in two weight categories (50kg and 52kg). Rachel has also taken two British titles – both by knockout – and a European title.

Rachael visited St Mary’s to make a presentation to the school’s Year 11 Gifted and Talented cohort, making it an ideal opportunity to present Danielle with her award at the same time.

The formal presentation of the award was made during St Mary’s annual Feast Day Mass and celebration, at which a number of Danielle’s family members were also present.

Faculty Leader of PE and sport Mr Craig Thornton said: “Danielle is an amazing PE student who typifies the Jamie Payne-Ross Award. She has written her own piece of St. Mary's PE history by becoming the first female recipient of the prestigious award.

"Throughout her time at St. Mary's so far, Danielle has demonstrated an outstanding approach towards all aspects of school life, but especially towards PE. She has all the skills and mental approach to become a top class athlete in whichever sport she decides to pursue.

"She is a naturally talented sportswoman who doesn't take her skills for granted as she works to continually improve. Danielle has a myriad of qualities but it is her ability to always support, encourage, guide and inspire her peers which is truly amazing to see. We look forward to seeing Danielle’s sporting career continue to develop. Who knows what she could go on to achieve in the world of sport.”