A TEENAGER who had a lifesaving operation on her 14th birthday has been honoured for her bravery.

Rebecca Hayward, from Rayleigh, received the Princess Diana Award at a special ceremony in London after spending the past year recovering from a brain tumour.

The FitzWimarc School pupil was nominated by the school’s head of Year 9, Lynne Kelly, for demonstrating outstanding qualities in overcoming adversity.

Rebecca, of Byford Close, said: “I was really honoured to get the award and proud Miss Kelly nominated me.

“I was very surprised when I found out. The past year has been difficult, but everybody has made it special for me. The school has been a great help, especially Miss Kelly.”

Rebecca was diagnosed with a brain tumour last September after suffering headaches which had become increasingly painful.

She was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and had a successful operation to remove the tumour on her birthday – September 26.

The tumour was discovered to be benign, but Rebecca’s recovery, though steady, has taken some time and she has missed much of the past school year.

She still has MRI scans every six months and has had physiotherapy to help her overcome the effects of the surgery, which left her tired most of the time.

Rebecca received her award from Esther Rantzen. She added: “Esther was really nice. I was quite scared getting the award, but she was very friendly.”

Rebecca’s mum Jan, 44, said: “We are proud of Becky and so lucky to have her. She’s found this past year extremely hard, but she’s been doing fantastically well and dealt with every challenge face-to face.

“The operation was the best present she could have had because it saved her life. When Miss Kelly told me about the nomination, I couldn’t speak and had such a lump in my throat.

“The school have been so supportive throughout and have only ever been interested in her health.”

Miss Kelly added: “She’s just a really nice pupil who’s had a really tough year. She came back to school and worked really hard despite having her head shaved and struggling with her health.”