A student who moved to England from China as a teenager has been awarded the Royal Gold Medal by The Queen for scoring two A* and two A grades at A-level – even though English is only her second language.

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Xeusong Yu, of Sparrowgate Road, Walsoken, near Wisbech, collected the prestigious award from Her Majesty at Sandringham following The Queen’s regular Sunday morning church service.

The 19-year-old first arrived in the UK in 2008 where, despite learning English in China since she was two, had never used the language in everyday life.

That did not stop her gaining some strong GCSE results within a couple of years of arriving before going on to the King Edward VII (KES) School, in King’s Lynn, where she got A*s in maths and further maths, as well as As in physics and chemistry.

Speaking about the prize, which is awarded to the top-performing student at KES each year, Xeusong said: “I didn’t think I’d get it, so it was a big surprise.”

She typically studied for about two hours per day on top of her usual lessons but would try to keep weekends free. “If you push yourself to the extreme, you’re not going to be able to keep up in the future,” she said.

Xeusong added that a genuine interest in the subjects she was learning helped, as well as a willingness to keep asking questions to further her understanding.

KES headteacher Mike Douglass said there were a number of high-performing students at the school last year and that teachers had to refer back to individual exam scores to find the top performer.

He said Xeusong’s record was a “fantastic achievement”, particularly in a set of challenging subjects.

Xeusong’s mother Xiaowen Davies, 47, and stepfather Stanley Davies, 77, said they were incredibly proud and put Xeusong’s success down to a combination of her intelligence and hard-work.

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