UK Anti-Bullying week 12-16 November 2018

Wow, what a fabulous place!  After seeing and experiencing Heltwate Special School with my own eyes I am in total awe of the teachers, teaching assistants and support staff for their hard work and dedication towards supporting their pupils who have moderate to severe learning difficulties.

I was invited to speak to the staff and pupils about my life’s journey in the hope it would inspire staff and pupils alike to face and overcome their own life challenges.

I started my story with being bullied as a small child and losing my self-confidence going on to gain self-belief as a teenager through dancing.  Northern Soul dancing to be exact and eventually on to join the Royal Marines as a young adult and to enjoy a 24-year career with both the Marines and the SBS.

Without question it’s one of the most rewarding talks I’ve given.  There were lots of “soldier” questions as you would expect but the last question took me back a little.  By communicating through his teacher one child said, he did not know what Northern Soul was and asked if I could show him?  Not something I was anticipating but how could I refuse and after all…Once a Northern Souler always a Northern Souler.  So with the promise of help from a few staff members we played some Northern Soul and showed the children a few moves.

When I played my clip from Wigan Casino, to my absolute joy and amazement, five of the staff started to dance and then the pupils followed suit.  It was a “pinch me” moment to see everyone up on their feet, all with smiles on their faces moving to the beat of a genre of music they have never even heard of before.  What a fabulous moment!

There were lots of high five’s as everyone left the room and it was me who was left feeling totally inspired and uplifted by the wonderful experience of sharing what I love.

Thank you Amanda and Sarah for your very kind invitation to speak at Heltwate.  I am sure that I gained so much more than I gave.

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