When she first reached secondary school age Bethlehem Abate feared she would be deported and was twice forced to spend time in a detention centre.
On Thursday (Aug 22) she celebrated a day she though she may never see as she picked up a haul of top GCSE grades and can now look forward to her future.
Bethlehem – known as Betty – picked seven A grades in GCSE maths, art and Design, English literature, English language, additional and core science and French along with two Bs and a pass in an OCR qualification at Bruntcliffe High School in Morley. She was granted permission to stay in the UK with her mum in 2009 after being threatened with deportation to Africa
Betty and her mum Elsa Temesgen, an accountant, were threatened with deportation in 2008 because the government refused to grant asylum after they fled domestic violence in Ethiopia in 2004.
Twice, in September 2008 and January 2009, immigration officers raided their home and on the last occasion were all set to put them on a plane to Addis Ababa.
They spent five days in Yarls Wood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire awaiting deportation.
After hearing about their struggle to stay in the UK, their local community, Betty’s school, their church and MP Hilary Benn, rallied together to help them fight to stay in the country.
Betty said: “We can now stay in the UK and I can go on to get a job and live here permanently...We were very touched at how much people supported us and we won’t forget it. We are forever grateful.”
Successes were being celebrated across Leeds schools.
Roundhay School celebrated record GCSE results with 73 per cent of pupils gaining five A* to C grades including English and maths. Star performers included 16 year-old Rebecca Parvin-Graham who achieved 10 A* grades and two Bs. She said: “I didn’t expect to do quite so well- I was hoping for a couple of A stars.”
Grammar School at Leeds pupils Amara Okereke and Megan Gilbert took time out from their busy rehearsal schedule for West Side Story to celebrate exam success. Amara from Adel, who plays the lead Maria at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, achieved seven A*s, two As and a B, while Megan from Barwick in Elmet, who plays the supporting role of Rosalia picked up nine A*s and an A.