Haddenham teen Philip sets his sights on place at Oxbridge despite battling debilitating illness

WHEN he returns to Ely College Sixth Form in September, Philip Murray will be like many other students.

His sights are on achieving A-levels that could see him secure a place at university, possibly Cambridge, to study science.

But almost 12 months ago it was a different Philip Murray who started the new school year.

Philip, of Lode Way, Haddenham, had spent years battling the debilitating illness ME, missing school and at times being confined to his bed with crippling tiredness.

The teenager had become isolated, virtually trapped in his home, cut off from friends with only the television and computer games for company.

Philip, 19, admits he was depressed, it had always been his dream to follow a career in science and things looked very bleak.

Then, from somewhere, he found the mental and physical will to get back in the swim, get back to college and get back his life.

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Philip’s determination to catch up on his lost education has impressed teachers at Ely, inspired his fellow students and won him a nomination for Cambridgeshire Constabulary Young People of the Year (YOPEY).

“His attendance and performance have been exemplary and his enthusiasm motivating for others,” said Elisabeth Kuschel , his tutor who has nominated him for a YOPEY.

It was five years ago when, after a bout of glandular fever, a chronic tiredness seemed to linger.

An active boy, Philip had done Taekwondo, but could not shake off the growing fatigue and then memory loss.

At the time he was going to Witchford Village College but his attendance became patchy.

“I had many blood tests. They said it could be diabetes or an over active thyroid then one doctor suggested it could be ME and referred me to a specialist,” said Philip.

“The worst thing is the fatigue – the blockage that stops you doing what you want to do.

Philip is convinced depression also plays a part.

“It is a powerful component. I can testify to that,” he said candidly.

He had some home tuition especially with GCSE maths and managed to pass with a C grade but was not happy with it.

Then, perhaps simply fed up with being fed up, Philip enrolled at Ely College in Downham Road. It was a brave step.

With the support of the college he was given a light timetable studying maths and English GCSE and AS physics.

“It became clear that he was an A-grade student,” said Ms Kuschel.

“And as his confidence grows he has blossomed academically and socially – it had been difficult for him to have friends while he was so ill,” she said.

Philip’s attendance and performance, as well as his determination to turn his life around has been exemplary and his enthusiasm a motivation for others.

“He is an inspiration to us all and all who know him have caught his felling of wanting to succeed,” she said.