Tuesday 18th September 2007 by C. Freeman
A 20 minute talk by Falklands War veteran, Simon Weston, was the highlight of Brooke Weston's 2007 prize-giving ceremony. Governors, trustees, staff, parents and students gathered for the annual event which celebrates achievements throughout the year. Mr Weston had been formally greeted by a guard of honour comprising College chef, Dale Campbell and students Paul Taylor, Mercedes Britton, Kelan Marshall, Conor Price and Tom Dunstan, all from Corby III Detachment of the Army Cadets.
Mr Weston, the most critically injured soldier to survive the Falklands campaign, spoke to students about 'choices and consequences'. He outlined his life-story which led to him, as a Welsh Guard, being blown up at the age of 20 on the ship, Sir Galahad. He had 46 per cent burns and underwent 20 operations in just two and a half months. He refused to give in to self-pity and forged a career which includes writing, presenting, journalism and running a young people's charity, The Weston Spirit.
In an inspirational speech he told the students to pursue their lives with passion, informed decision-making and positivity. Speaking of the bombing he said: 'My life changed literally in a flash. 97 of us were injured, 48 died. I lost seven of my very best friends and I was the worst injured to come back alive. My heart stopped twice. I lost half my body weight and received in excess of 250 units of blood.'
An army resettlement officer said he was unemployable, but Simon Weston was determined to prove him wrong. He said: 'I've had the opportunity to do things and achieve for myself because I believe in me: If there's one lesson you've got to learn in your lives, you have got to believe in yourself. Like who you are. Believe in you. Don't worry about what other people say. If you like who you are then you will achieve anything you want because you will start believing that you can.'
It was a positive message for an uplifting ceremony in which students were awarded for their efforts in subject areas, GCSEs and A-levels. In addition, special awards were made to those who have displayed exceptional achievement and tenacity. These included Chris Arch-Jones, Alex Matthew, Lucas Rowe, Lisa Rustage, Mairead McKinney, Agnieszka Duczak and Ben Johnson. A special award was presented to Jamie Scoular who has overcome leukaemia and now works closely with the Teenage Cancer Trust. The award, in memory of student, Terence McMahon who died earlier this year, was presented by Terry's father, Joe and brother, Liam.
Principal, Trish Stringer said: 'Our annual prizegiving marks the achievements of our students here and Simon Weston embodies the spirit of self-belief and determination that we foster at Brooke Weston. He is certainly a very positive and inspirational speaker and he made a real impact on us all'.