Lance Minnies has been given the special ministerial award for 2018 at the Western Cape National Senior Certificate Awards Ceremony at Leeuwenhof. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency
Cape Town - Lance Minnies has been given the special ministerial award for 2018 at the Western Cape National Senior Certificate Awards Ceremony at Leeuwenhof on Thursday.

Minnies lost everything in a fire in June 2016 that killed eight people, including five children, and injured five.

“I feel very excited and overwhelmed. There were times I wanted to give up on everything and to be here today it’s just amazing. I never thought I would make it,” he said.

“The challenges I have faced have made me stronger and made me push on and want to reach my goals.”

Minnies was 16 at the time of the fire. He sustained burns to 90% of his body while trying to save two children and he lost four toes. He spent five months in the isolation ward in Tygerberg Hospital.

Doctors were sceptical about Minnies making a full recovery.

“My mother used to look at me through a window while I would lie there with my burn wounds. I was on life support and just thank God for His grace,” he said.

But he had to repeat Grade 11 after a teacher said everyone had to make sacrifices in life for the things they wanted.

During Grade 12 he struggled with depression and on many occasions wanted to drop out. He is the first member of his family to matriculate.

“The thing that was keeping me going was my family; the fact that I made a promise to my mother to look after her and provide for her was what I was mainly focusing on,” he said.

Minnies obtained a Bachelor’s pass with high scores in languages and Life Orientation. He hopes to study business management next year, but for now he plans to take a gap year.

@MarvinCharles17

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Cape Argus