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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

#SPIRIT: How Jacintha Saldanha's son overcame her death to achieve academic success

The 17-year-old son of the Indian nurse who committed suicide after falling victim to a hoax call to the hospital treating Kate Middleton in London has overcome the tragedy to be named student of the year at his college. 

Junal Barboza was named 'Student of the Year' at the St Brendan's Sixth Form College in Bristol this week, 18 months after his mother Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found hanging in her London apartment.

Mrs Saldanha was fooled into transferring a call by two Australian DJ's who pretended to be the Queen and Prince charles.  At the time the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for acute morning sickness at the King Edward VII's hospital in central London.

The Bristol Post reported on Tuesday that Junal had immersed himself in school work to cope with the loss of his mother, topping results for the year at the College.

He now plans to study engineering at the University of Manchester after taking A-Levels in design and technology and AS-Levels in physics and mathematics.

Junal, who uses his father's surname, said: "I was shocked and honoured. I wouldn't say I was a model student. I just get on with things on a daily basis and don't do anything too outrageous.

"The support I got here was incredible and everyone was amazing.  I had people to talk to and was greeted by my friends.  It gave me cushioning when I came back to college.  I came back as early as I could because if I had stayed at home I would have been thinking in a negative state."

Teachers at the college say, Junal's journey has been particularly remarkable given that his mother had been suffering from depression and anxiety prior to taking her life. 

Jacintha Saldanha, originally from Mangalore, had attempted to take her life on two previous occasions.  Days after her death in 2012, a suicide note revealed that the hoax call had been the "last straw".

Ruth Pickersgill, assistant head of the college, said: "Junal joined us two years ago and in his time here he has had to go through more adversity than most of us can possible imagine.

"He had to deal with the tragic loss of his mother in the glare of the world's media and throughout, along with the rest of his family, maintained a dignity and integrity.  We have nominated him for this award as despite the barriers he has had to overcome, he has managed to maintain an attendance of 97 per cent this year and has continued studying hard and apply himself to his studies. 

"He has shown a determination to keep going that is admirable and illustrates his strength of character and resilience."

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