Two Penryn College students who both had to cope with the deaths of their fathers while studying for their GCSEs have been praised for their “hard work and determination” which led to excellent results.

Ben Hall not only lost his dad just as he was beginning year eight, but has also had to overcome dyslexia which has made his three A* grades and six As all the more of an achievement.

Ben’s dad Chris Hall was a rugby coach who collapsed and died during a training session with the under-13s team at Penryn Rugby Club in November 2009 – he was just 41. Ben was present at the time and witnessed his father being taken away in an ambulance.

The teenager was determined to make his dad proud especially as he had received a lot of help and encouragement from him with regards to his dyslexia.

“He had dyslexia too, but back then they didn’t know what it was and just thought he was stupid,” said Ben. “They didn’t think he could achieve anything, but he got a degree in naval architecture and worked for the MoD.

“He wanted me to do well and helped me a lot with my English and maths. He was very good at motivating me and he would have been quite proud of me.”

Ben, who lives with his mum Emma Cartwright in Langton Road, Falmouth, will now be joining Falmouth School’s sixth form centre next month to begin his A level studies.

Melissa Mitchell, of Mabe, is also about to begin studying for her A levels at Truro College after scoring five A*s and four As in her GCSEs despite having to cope with the loss of her dad.

Steve Mitchell had suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy, which is a degenerative disease involving the gradual deterioration and death of areas of the brain.

“My dad was seriously ill and I helped mum care for him,” said Melissa. “He was diagnosed in 2008 and then got progressively worse until he died in February 2012. “He would have been very proud of me today.”

Melissa’s mum Wendy accompanied her daughter when she collected her results on Thursday morning. “I definitely am very proud,” she said.

n GCSE results pages 22-23