AS the end of primary school approaches for year six pupils across the town, many schoolchildren will be parting ways with classmates.

But childhood pals can be some of the best friends we ever make, as 11-year-old Charlie Yates has discovered.

Charlie was born with a leg problem called in-toeing gait which means she struggles to keep up. But her friends secretly decided that after seven years of school sports days in which she finished at the back of the pack, her final cross country race at Penketh South Primary School would be different.

Charlie’s parents were ‘blown away’ by the kindness of her pals when they ran at her side for the last race and then encouraged her to cross the finish line in first place.

Dad Gary Yates said: “Each year Charlie participates but she always falls behind so I usually join in and run alongside her. But this year when I was waiting for her to run past I saw that I didn’t need to, because she was at the front.

“I was blown away at the time, it surprised us because the other children had obviously planned it.”

Disney fan Charlie also suffers from autism but Gary said she has never felt left out at school: “You wouldn’t believe how nice that class is. All the pupils are very good with her, they have included Charlie and supported her in everything she has ever done.”

Charlie was offered an operation for her condition but turned it down because it would involve breaking her legs and joints. And Alder Hey have now told her she does not need regular hospital visits.

Gary is a former Penketh South pupil himself and said that although he is sad Charlie is moving on to high school, she has already made new friends during taster days at St Gregory’s RC High: “She will be leaving friends behind but I know she will stay in touch and we don’t have any concerns about her moving on.

"It was very emotional really because it’s getting to the end of school and it was the last race of the day, on the last sports day. The school awarded her first, second and third place.

“Everybody was moved by it but I know Charlie couldn’t care less if she came last or first. 

“She does get tired more easily but it doesn’t stop her doing anything, she goes to the gym with me. It has never got her down. She always tries and she’s not bothered when she loses.”