Friday 19th September 2008 by J. Heppell
Olympian Sally Gunnell presented the awards at Brooke Weston's annual Prize Giving and she even brought along the gold medal that she won in Barcelona.
She gave an inspirational 15-minute talk to students, their parents and staff about how she repeatedly visualised winning the Olympic gold and how a positive attitude can seriously boost chances of success. The audience saw a video showing Sally racing to victory in 1992, and pictures of her subsequently draped in the Union Jack; iconic images of British sport. Ms Gunnell is the only woman in history to hold all four major track titles concurrently in the 400m hurdles event, winning the Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Golds in 1992, 1993 and 1994 respectively.
Sally met members of the Governing Body and senior management at a private reception, heard the Brooke Weston choir perform before the ceremony and also chatted with students, parents and staff afterwards, happily posing for photographs with the medal.
More than 150 students received prizes in recognition of their exceptional efforts. Awards were presented for those who had displayed aptitude in different subject areas. Each year group had a 'Student of the Year' while the top 16 highest performing GCSE and A Level students were also awarded.
Other students also received recognition for their work with the Duke of Edinburgh's Award and the BA Gold Crest scheme while the 22 students who ran for charity and have so far raised £13,500 for the Teenage Cancer Trust were invited on stage to receive the Terence McMahon Memorial Award from his family.
Seven more special awards were presented: Paul Dougherty received the HSBC Business Student of the Year while the Mouchel Parkman Sportsperson of the Year went to Oliver Brown. Nicole Tinto won the Pease Family Award and William Downey was given the Parents in Partnership Community Award.
Siblings Matthew and Diana Gormley received the RS Components Outstanding Achievement Award and OCR Outstanding Student of the Year Award respectively for their phenomenal results. Matthew was awarded five A grades at A Level while Diana achieved 10A*s, 1A and a Distinction in GNVQ, one of the best GCSE results in Brooke Weston's 18 year history.
Teacher Stephanie Gonda was presented with the Principal's Award by Miss Stringer who praised her 'dedication, persistence, determination and willingness to go the extra mile.' Miss Gonda was nominated for the National Teaching Awards of Great Britain by students and received her certificate and a goodie bag of prizes.
The two musical interludes were provided by xylophonist and former student, Liam Halloran and Year 8 student Eliot Beeby who played the piano and also presented Ms Gunnell with a bouquet at the end of the ceremony.
Principal Miss Stringer said: 'Sally Gunnell is a true sporting hero and a real inspiration. She set herself the ultimate goal and achieved it through positivity, training and commitment. She is a real example to the students at Brooke Weston and it was fantastic that she spent so much time afterwards talking to the guests at the ceremony. We were all really thrilled that she was here to present this year's prizes.'