BBC television celebrity and former Blue Peter daredevil, Helen Skelton, was the guest of honour at Somercotes Academy’s annual presentation evening last week, in recognition of students’ success and achievements over the year.
Earlier in the day, Helen visited the Academy and chatted with students from all year groups.
The TV star made a name for herself as a Blue Peter presenter, taking on incredible challenges.
She completed the Namibia Ultra Marathon (becoming the second woman ever to do so), kayaked over 2,018 miles down the Amazon river (breaking two Guinness World Records), completed a 66-metre high wire walk between the towers of Battersea Power Station and, in 2012, travelled 500 miles across Antarctica to the South Pole, becoming the fastest person to travel 100km by ski, and breaking more World Records.
Understandably then, her message to the students was to make their own kind of music, and sing their own kind of song. “When people tell you that you cannot do that, as so many did with most of my achievements, you should use that to spur you on,” she told them.
“I am not a kayaker, or a high-wire walker, but I proved the doubters wrong when they said to me ‘you can’t, you couldn’t, you shouldn’t’.
I said ‘why can’t we just try?’ I used that as petrol to fire me up because it was the best motivation you can get.
“Having visited your school today, and now seeing all of the awards here tonight, you should already be very proud of yourselves for what you have achieved. Keep going because I know from personal experience that it is worth it,” she said.
Helen presented 80 awards to students for Progress and Achievement at the Academy in 2018. The most prestigious award went to Lewis Kidd, who was the highest-performing GCSE student in Maths and Triple Science in this summer’s exams.
The TMAT Chief Executive’s Special Award, presented by David Hampson OBE, goes to the student who has performed above and beyond expectations.
Lewis has high-functioning autism and needed support to get through his GCSEs. He is now studying for his A Levels.
His mum Deborah Ross was overcome with pride for her son and praised the immense support the Academy has given to Lewis throughout his time at Somercotes Academy.
The Rob Palmer Award For Student Voice went to Phoebe Worrall, a student with a great commitment to the local community, as a member of the Scouts and local Youth Club, who was described as “a role model” for others.
The Philip Bond Award For Best GCSE Results went to Jessica Lee, the Academy’s highest-performing GCSE student overall in 2019.
The Principal’s Cup was presented to Miles Thompson, who achieved the best GCSE results this summer compared to his performance at the end of Year 6, having achieved almost two grades higher per subject than he was predicted at the end of Primary School.
The House Cup went to Cetus House, who out-performed others in inter-house competitions throughout the academic year. It was collected on behalf of the students by Freya Donner and Louie Hawkins-Nay.
The Awards Night entertainment had begun with a stunning performance from Champion UK Aerial Performer and Somercotes Academy student, Grace McDowall (13).
It was followed by musical performances from Somercotes Choir and soloist Lucie Wells, who closed the show.
Special mention must go to student Charlie Beevers, who sang and played the piano for a stunning performance of “She Used To be Mine” from “Waitress” The Musical, which earned her further praise from Helen Skelton.
Frances Green, Principal of Somercotes Academy, quoted Shakespeare when she told the audience: “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
With its best-ever progress in this year’s GCSE exams, and congratulations from Ofsted, this rural school is surely proof of that.”