A BRAVE Skipton schoolgirl who has had two bone marrow transplants has been hailed "an inspiration" and "one of life's shining sunflowers."

Fourteen-year-old Rebecca Alton, of Grassington, who was first diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of five, has received a special award from the original Calendar Girls.

And Rebecca, a pupil at Skipton Girls' High School, took to the stage at a special presentation ceremony in Harrogate to tell of her battle against cancer. She has been diagnosed with leukaemia three times.

Her mother Michelle said: " We are so very proud of her - she was so thrilled. She was a little nervous beforehand about giving her speech but sailed through it. She spoke about her long journey from her first diagnosis and how she has managed to to stay positive throughout. It was really lovely that she had so many friends from school there to support her."

Rebecca received the 'John Baker' award, named after the husband of original Calendar Girl Angela Baker. He died after a battle with non-Hodgkin lymphona. The gala was held to mark the end of an amateur dramatic stage show based on the Calendar Girls film. Amateur productions of the stage show have raised more than £100,000 for blood cancer charity Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research over the past 18 months.

Angela Baker said: "Rebecca has shown great courage during her long illness and has also shown determination, uncompromising spirit and good humour. She definitely deserves the award as she has been an inspiration to others, especially her family and friends. She is our little miracle and one of life's shining sunflowers."

As well as mum Michelle, Rebecca's father Simon, sister Charlotte, 18, and Matthew, 16, were at the ceremony to support her. Matthew was the bone marrow donor for the first of Rebecca's operations when she as aged just 10. She had to have an anonymous stem cell transplant 18 months later.

Michelle said: "Rebecca has missed about three years of school through all this, but she was absolutely determined to stay with her friends and has worked amazingly hard to keep up. She has stayed clear for the last two years and has regular check-ups. She has always remained incredibly positive, and loves to think that her story could inspire and help others."