February 15, 2001 15:19: TWO girls who face daily struggles with disability, attracted plaudits from the present and previous prime ministers, following the prize-giving of the annual Child of Achievement awards.

Kayleigh Row, six, of Bromley, and Laura Buxton, 14, of Medway, Hayes, were presented with the special awards by former Prime Minister John Major and television personalities Gary Webster and Richard McCourt.

Laura was born with a major heart defect.

She also suffers from spina bifida and curvature of the spine.

And, following major surgery in 1988, when she was just two years old, she had a life-threatening stroke, causing brain damage.

She was then struck down with kidney failure and peritonitis.

Despite all of these setbacks, she even went as far as taking up ballroom dancing with the support of a teacher from Marjorie McClure School, in Chislehurst.

She was nominated by a neighbour for the award.

Kayleigh, of Tweedy Road, Bromley, had her hands and toes amputated as a baby after developing meningitis.

She was nominated by her headteacher at Valley Primary School, Bromley, Susan Head.

Mrs Head said: "Kayleigh is an example to us.

"It's good for us all at the school to see how well she manages."

On top of the awards, the youngsters won praise from Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said: "Your courage, bravery and determination makes inspirational reading."

Former PM John Major, who is a patron of the charity, added: "Each year brings yet more stories of the award winners' compassion, determination and sheer courage against the background of many personal hardships."

Kayleigh's mother, Tracie Haffenden, said: "She's coped remarkably well.

"It's made us really proud for her. Last year she had a bone lengthening frame put into her leg.

"It's a gruesome operation and the school decided to nominate her because of her attitude afterwards."

Chris Steel