A MOTHER-of-three battling breast cancer has been given a national award after working in schools in the area for 30 years.

Pip St John received the prize at the Shine a Light Awards in London for her work helping children with speech, language and communication difficulties in Blackburn.

However around two years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer but has been continuing to help work in schools in the area.

She has now been honoured with the 2018 Communication Champion Award after coming to the judges attention for her work at Wensley Fold CE Primary Academy.

Mrs St John, from Simonstone, said: “I love working with kids, it’s just amazing to see them flourish and grow.

“It has never been a job for me, I’ve loved it so much.

“I’m just so very, very lucky to have worked with such inspirational head teachers.

“Since I was diagnosed my work has been one of my passions that have kept me going.

“The NHS staff who have helped me have been absolutely brilliant, I have been so well looked after.

“I just hope the teams in the schools which I have worked carry on to help children fulfil their full potential.

“It is vital to kids to give them the best life chances.”

Over her career she has taught thousands of pupils and mentored hundreds of teachers about the importance of ensuring children have the communication skills to have ‘the best chance in life’.

The grandmother-of-one was praised for expanding her role to become Wensley Fold’s Language for Life coordinator, building on from her advisory role, as she continued to battle stage three breast cancer.

She has also created the pre-teaching vocabulary (PTV) programme, which she developed to help children needing extra language support

The judges noted that Pip’s many achievements have included bringing parents, carers and professionals together.

Wensley Fold’s special education needs coordinator, Karen Jack, recommended her for the award and praised the Chatty Hands group she set up for children.

Mrs St John used to work for Blackburn with Darwen Council going into school to help deliver training on children’s speech, language and communication needs, but went independent six years ago.

She has maintained a core around 10 schools in Blackburn and Darwen which she has worked in on a fortnightly basis.

These include The Redeemer C of E Primary, Feniscowles County Primary School, St. Aidan’s Primary School, a C of E Academy, Shadsworth Infant School and Roe Lee Primary School.

One judge said: “She has gone above and beyond her commitments, using her own funds to expand resources in the school, training other speech and language therapists, and creating important support groups – that much of this was while battling cancer is simply outstanding.”