A little girl from Leighton Buzzard has received a special award after setting out on a mission to learn Mandarin Chinese.
Philomena Jackson, 9, attends Leighton Middle School but in her spare time moonlights at Milton Keynes Chinese School where she studies Mandarin – a language spoken by over a quarter of the world’s population.
Hard-working Philomena has achieved 100% in her Mandarin exams and was named pupil of the year 2018/19.
Last week, the Mayor of Milton Keynes Martin Petchey presented her with the award on stage in front of hundreds of people celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Pig at the Stables Theatre.
Also in attendance were members of the Chinese Embassy as well as MP for Milton Keynes South, Iain Stewart.
Proud dad Anthony said: “I was surprised she did so well as my daughter is not Chinese and neither is my wife, we do not speak the language.
“Nearly all the members of her class have one of their parents being Chinese, so this was totally unexpected!”
Philomena studies at the school along with her younger sister Natalie, 7, who is also a keen learner.
When not learning Chinese, Philomena has a strong love of music and is learning to play the flute, piano and violin.
She won the school cup for music at Pulford Lower School a year ago, and recently entertained diners at Brown’s Oxford with an impromptu performance on the piano.
And if that wasn’t enough, Philomena also makes time for her other favourite hobby of cheerleading!
Philomena’s award comes exactly 20 years after dad Anthony featured in this newspaper on January 26, 1999.
While studying podiatry at the University of Northampton, Anthony ended up dealing with a medical emergency on board a jumbo jet plane of SAS reserves flying over the United States.
The feat earned Anthony commendations from both his University Dean and the Colonel of the SAS Regiment, but most importantly... it made the front page of the LBO!