Getting the right speaker for a school event is not easy. Striking the right balance is far more challenging than you would think. Whether you use your alumni to find someone who is connected to the school, a celebrity or somebody related to an item in the news. Once you have made your mind up, aligning diaries is the next hurdle. People have busy lives and school calendar dates are fixed. If luck is on your side you will have a name for the programme. However, will your speaker be able to related to young people? Some highly successful people are, in the flesh, not particularly engaging or inspiring.
We had our Prize Giving Ceremony this week and Gail Emms, MBE, was our guest speaker. As a former Olympian and champion she fit the bill. She arrived earlier to spend some time with younger students, she spoke to those studying GCSE and played badminton with students and teachers. She was approachable, warm and human. Full of joy, fun and wisdom, she was an immediate hit with everybody. Her speech showed a passion for sport and life, shared a healthy attitude to risk and a well grounded understanding of what it takes to be happy and fulfilled. She spoke of effort, challenges and the satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have done your best.
After the presentation of Prizes, she was patient as students and parents had their photograph taken with her, me included. She was generous with her time and most gracious. In her parting words she reminded us of how wonderful our students are. She described them as insightful, personable, polite and enthusiastic. She enjoyed her time with us and we with her. A great person and a fantastic event!