Dicker: Jake Simmons wins ‘Best Brother’ at Child of Sussex Awards
First Year pupil and Dicker House member Jake Simmons won a Child of Sussex Award earlier this month, which was in recognition of the love and patience he shows towards his siblings, Emily and Adam, who have complex medical and physical needs.
"I have a very normal life," says Jake, who comes to be interviewed during a break time. "I just want to emphasise that."
When asked about his passions, Jake describes his love of Spray Sailing - a hobby he fell into when he was young and continued to pursue throughout his 8 years at Bede's Prep School.
"I'm at the Senior School now, but I joined the Prep School when my family moved from Slough to Eastbourne so we could have a more functional home for Adam."
Adam is Jake's younger brother who, like Jake's sister Emily, has an undiagnosed neurodegenerative condition which includes epilepsy, dystonia, scoliosis, dislocated hips, visual and hearing impairments, and an inability to speak, walk or do anything independently.
"Being so near the sea, I've loved being able to compete through Eastbourne Sailing Club. Recently, during the summer in fact, I won three races and a cup. That made me feel especially proud of myself - and winning was all the sweeter as I was racing against my friends!"
Jake's mother, Kathy, describes him as a 'kind natured, happy and very witty boy' who has a great relationship with his brother and sister.
"He helps them as a matter of course," she explains. "Cuddles, hugs. He makes them smile, takes the time to show them how to do things. Adam and Emily are extremely complex children and leading a normal life can be very hard at times."
Kathy admits that Jake does miss out on things, but his reaction seems to be behaving in an ever-more helpful way.
"He did a bike ride to raise money for Chestnut Tree House, the hospice that supports Adam and Emily," Kathy explains. "It was his idea. He raised £800."
Jake with his Mum and Dad.
Aged 13, Jake lives in Eastbourne and, aside from Spray Sailing, his self-professed passions are Music and Science.
"I'm quite musical," he says. "Well, I would like to think I am. I play the piano and am in a five-piece band. We've been at it for two or three years and have gone through a couple of drummers. Then, on the academic front, I love Physics and Chemistry."
Recent experiments relating to the reactions of metals and the periodic table seem to have really caught Jakes imagination.
"I can name and tell you about 31 elements in the Periodic Table," he says, before adding, "Mr Hodges is a good Science teacher."
Elsewhere, Jake is in Dicker House, which he describes as a 'second family'. That admission will please his Housemaster, Mr Mills, who describes Jake as, "Absolutely inspirational."
When asked about Dicker, Jake smiles. "I've got to be honest," he says. "It's not the best-looking House, but there's a real community feeling to it, and I like that."
As for the Child of Sussex award, Jake states very simply, "It means a lot to me. Although it's just my normal life, it's something different."
After a short pause, he then continues.
"People don't necessarily think about a particular student's home life, and that's not to say that anyone has ever been insensitive to me. If this award can raise a little awareness though, or just encourage people to think about people who have unusual lives… that would make me really happy."
In which case Jake, we can safely say that everyone at Bede's will do our best.