A YOUNGSTER who struggles with anxiety and loneliness has been given an unexpected gift.

Aibhlinn Delaney, a Year 9 pupil at Kingsdown School, wasn't looking forward to the summer holidays.

Then, headteacher Emma Leigh-Bennett offered to bend the school library's lending rules just for her.

Normally, all books from the library must be returned before the term ends.

However, Emma let Aibhlinn take some with her, as long as she returns them in September.

Aibhlinn said: "I've been struggling a lot with anxiety over the last few years.

"There have been many methods I could try to cope with it, but reading has helped me the most.

"It helps me escape into another world, it calms me down and relaxes me, and I learn something new.

"It would've been very difficult to get through the holidays, but this has made them much better and less lonely."

Emma Leigh-Bennett said: "She is an exceptional student and a great role model.

"I'd never met her until recently, when she was speaking to her progress team and her support leader was out of school, so they asked if I could help her.

"I asked about her plans for the holidays, she said she didn't have much money and that she loves reading the classics, so I took her to the school library.

"I let her pick ten books and she recommended one for me, itt was one of the most beautiful experiences I've had at this school."

Aibhlinn added: "This feels a bit like a privilege, it makes me stick out from the crowd."

School librarians Maggie Longthorne and Lin Curtis were happy to see a student with such a large love of literature.

Both learning resource assistants have just finished their final days at the school after working there for a total of 28 years.

Emma added: "After meeting Aibhlinn, I've decided to change the rules and allow students to take library books out over the holidays in future.

"These weeks away present a wonderful opportunity for reading."