A teenager who was dubbed a hero for helping residents as the Grenfell Tower inferno blazed before sitting an exam the next morning said he was “a bit gutted” after receiving his results.
Rory Walsh, 18, spent all night co-ordinating the mass of donations and helped families driven from their homes at Grenfell Tower find shelter – despite his English poetry exam just hours away on the horizon.
The teenager – who was hoping for a C and said he would be doing “backflips” if he got a B – received a D grade for his English Literature and Language A-level, a D for Film Studies and a D for AS media studies.
Speaking after his results, he said: “I feel a bit gutted, I was hoping for a bit more, especially as I was supposed to get special consideration, I thought it would have been at least a C.”
After a “numb, hectic, tragic” night Rory, who lives near to the North Kensington tower block, made the one hour trek across London to Richmond College in Twickenham, west London.
But as he picked up his pen all his notes went out of his head, and everything was a “blank”, leaving after around 35 minutes to continue the relief effort and refusing extra time.
He said: “I wasn’t going to go at first. When I saw the severity of it… I thought ‘what if it collapses, I should stay here in case something happens’.
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“But then my family and my friends were saying ‘just go and do the test, try and get your mind off it, at least you can say you attempted it’.
“The problem was, on the journey I was getting mates ringing me saying ‘are you alright’, knowing I lived there, and then people were posting videos of the actual fire and it was a bit off-putting.”
Rory, who took English because he wanted the possibility of a teaching career, is currently training to be a personal fitness trainer, and one day hopes to open his own gym.
Asked if he would make the same decision to help he said: “Definitely yeah, a grade’s not worth more than that. I’d definitely do the same thing again.
“I don’t want to play the victim. The people who lived in that building – they were cheated, whether it was from life or the opportunities or doing their best.
“I only saw it but coming out of that – if I had to come out of that and do an exam I couldn’t have done it, no way.”
Schools and Kensington and Chelsea Council have been working to ensure pupils who took exams in the wake of the high-rise blaze will have their grades reviewed to ensure their higher education prospects are not compromised by the tragedy.
Pupils will have their grades “looked at, reviewed and modified accordingly if necessary”, while there will be access to counselling and mental health support on results days and when they start their new school terms in September.