A dozen pupils from a Menston school have been given recognition for their work with youngsters in Africa.

And the students from St Mary’s School, who received the Diana Certificate of Excellence, dedicated their award to a South African pupil they had worked with who died recently.

St Mary’s has gained international acclaim for its work with the Mnyakanya School, in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa since launching the Bambisanani Partnership five years ago.

The partnership – Bambisanani means ‘working hand in hand’ in Zulu – has used sport as a catalyst to promote education, health and leadership in one of South Africa’s poorest communities, which is severely affected by HIV/AIDS.

Maggie Turner, chief executive of the Diana Award, set up in 1999 for youngsters aged 12 to 18 in memory of Princess Diana, said: “The Diana Certificate of Excellence is for young people who make a positive change within their communities or schools.

“It identifies positive young role models that challenge negative stereotypes of young people and encourages them to develop their full potential.”

The students who received the award; Rebecca Harrison, Thomas Loughlin, Lisa Melvin, Isabelle Scott, Lorna O’Sullivan, Kate Shelly, Sam Thomas, Alexander Threapleton, Phoebe Tyrie, Alexandra Jewell, Chris Whiteley and Kim Wu, travelled to South Africa last summer to get involved in community work.

They mentored 20 students from the Mnyakanya School including Sbonelo Magwaza, who died recently.

Sam Thomas said all the St Mary’s students dedicated their certificates to him. “It is a great honour to receive this award and we would like to dedicate it to our friend and outstanding young leader, Sbonelo Magwaza, who died recently,” he said.

David Geldart, assistant head teacher at St Mary’s, said: “This award will encourage them to continue their work and inspire other to get involved.”