INSPIRATIONAL teenage Scout leader Joe Pearson, who was diagnosed with acute leukaemia six years ago, has been honoured by Chief Scout Bear Grylls.

The 19-year-old, of Perch Close, Calne, is assistant leader at the 1st Calne Scouts. He was diagnosed with cancer at 13 but is coming up to his third year in remission.

Throughout his illness, he continued with the Scouting movement and completed 29 out of the 55 miles of the White Horse Challenge while on crutches, only giving up because of blistered hands.

Last week Bear Grylls gave him the rare Cornwell badge, awarded for devotion to duty in Scouting and for courage.

He said: “I was gobsmacked to have a letter from Bear. I’ve always been involved with the Scouts; I started as a Beaver and have stayed on.

“I had a little break before I got diagnosed, but got a bit bored staying at home on treatment, so I got back involved. It’s challenging, but that’s what Scouting is all about; having a go and trying your best.”

The badge is awarded to only four UK Scouts a year.

Joe, now studying childcare at Wiltshire College’s Chippenham campus and hopes to work with sick children, said: “I am hoping that I will stay on during my work placement and then into a hospital to work in a playroom, as that was such a big feature in my treatment.”

He was nominated by his mother, Alyson, who said: “His devotion to providing the kids with opportunities is absolutely paramount to him.

“He had a hip replacement at 17, as part of his treatment, and we had a letter from his Explorer leader about how moved he was, when he wouldn’t let his incapacity affect any of the things that they did.”