1. What was your school like?
It was a mixed Church of England voluntary aided school in the centre of Bristol, close to St Mary Redcliffe Church.
2. What is your favourite memory from school?
My favourite memory of school were the annual choir tours where we would travel to different parts of the country and sing in Cathedrals and churches and explore the local area. We usually slept in sleeping bags on church hall floors!
3. How did your school experience influence/help your career?
School was something I endured rather than enjoyed as a rule, but it taught me to take each day as it came by living one day to the next.
4. Were you bullied at school? If so how did you overcome this?
I was extensively bullied at school over eleven years, starting in primary school and continuing until I left secondary school. Music was really my only escape from this, and was the only place where I felt I belonged. I didn’t really overcome bullying, I just tried to avoid being where it would normally happen and just try to continue to exist, if only in my own mind.
5. What was your favourite school subject?
Music and History
6. What did you look forward to when you went back to school after the holidays? What advice would you give to young people who are going back to school after the holidays?
I dreaded going back to school. Apart from another academic year of bullying, the only thing I had to look forward to was singing in the school choir. The advice I would give is when you start a new year in school, try and start afresh. Try not to look at the past, it’s gone. Make a new start.
7. What was your favourite school meal?
Chicken fricassè and chcocolate shortbread with chocolate custard (we used to call it chocolate concrete!)
8. If you had to do school again what would you change?
I believe you are the sum of all you have been through, and if I changed what I went through, it would change who I am. I don’t know whether or not that would be a good thing, but I think you have to try, as hard as it can be, to accept your past and try to move forward.
9. How did life change after school for you?
The bullying at school made me quite awkward around other people. University life was easier, but I still didn’t feel that I fully fitted in. I had some friends, but everyone else seemed so much more outgoing than me. Today, I’m still a little awkward and will often try and retreat to a ‘safe’ place. Crowds can be uncomfortable places for me to be in and I use self deprecating humour to deflect discomfort.
10. What advice would you give to anyone who is worried about going back to school because of bullying issues?
The most important thing is to talk to someone about how you feel. You don’t need to name names if you don’t want to, and don’t allow anyone to force you to do so. Your feelings are much more important than the consequences for the bully. What happens to you is far far more important than what happens to the person making you feel low. Standing up for yourself isn’t about hitting back, it isn’t about getting your own back. It’s about moving forward with your life in spite of what others might think of you. Learning to like yourself is the toughest thing you may have to do, but it is also the most important thing you will ever do.
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