So, the day started at 5:30am for both me and Jackers and we caught the 7am train to Gillingham. Where were we off to?
BRYANSTON, DORSET - to do our first motivational talk to the year 13 students at the school.
After a long train journey full of banter, some reading and writing in my vision book we arrived at Gillingham, where we met friend Mark who took us to the school itself. We rocked up to a big concrete archway reading 'Bryanston' - I think that was enough for us to realise that this place was going to be a hundred times bigger and grander than our old secondary school...
After a 2-3 mile drive we finally got to the main entrance of the school (yes that's right, the school has a path for about 2/3 miles before you actually reach the main entrance).
"Woah..." is the reaction me and Jackney shared. Woah... It was huge. It looked incredible. Lovely architecture and really nice surroundings.
We met Ian, the head of the sixth form, and walked into the school, again, we were taken back by the scale of this place. It was huge! The entrance was really nicely furnished, with 'posh' paintings on all the walls, it just looked proper and grand I suppose! It was completely different to what Jackney and I were used to seeing, especially seeing as we are both from a town which ranks within the top 5% of deprived areas in England. We were walking around the corridors and lots of students were equipped with Macbook's - so Jackney was delighted (he's a techy) - there were big classrooms, grand staircases and even fingerprint pads to sign in! This place was like a palace to us, mixed with a bit of Hogwarts and some technology from MI5!
Anyway, after a quick bite to eat we were taken to the lecture theatre where we prepared for the students to arrive. At around 11am they all arrived and the presentation kicked off. Coatesy did his bit about whether he thought Britain was broken or not and then introduced myself and Jackney. Jackney smashed his talk, which gave me the confidence to do the same. So, I went up and did my first motivational talk. It was a very nervous time as I haven't done anything like this in years and my confidence has already taken a knock due to cancer and it's affects, but I didn't do half bad and the response we all got from the students was phenomenal.
I spoke a lot about my dad's death, my boxing, my treatment, the side effects and my new diet. I also gave students the opportunity to see my port-a-cath in the flesh! I don't think any ladies really wanted to see, but the lads certainly did. They probably thought it was going to be all gore and gruesome...
The Q&A session afterwards was also great. We got asked some questions which put us on the spot, but we absolutely loved it and it was good to engage in conversation and answer those questions.
As each student left the room they smiled, thanked us and shook our hands which was really, really nice. It made us feel that we had earn't their respect and that they appreciated us giving up our time to try and inspire them - the little things mean the most to me, so a thank you and a hand shake was brilliant.
After the talk, we were joined by some of the sixth former's who took us for lunch. Again, the canteen was mental, it looked amazing, it was massive and boy was there a lot of food. And I love food... So, after a nice meal and a good chat to a great bunch of students. We headed off for a tour around the local brewery, which was interesting and I loved the smell. Yeast smells good... After obtaining some souvenirs, off we went back to Gillingham train station where we said goodbye to Mark and Ian and thanked them for the awesome day.
On the train journey home, myself and Jackney were talking about the day and how great it was. We have also started planning what we would like to do for future talks but also for our charity which is close to our hearts - The Royal Marsden - as you may know, I had my cancer treatment here and would really like to give something back. Therefore, Jackney and I are on a mission to try and do something small for the hospital in Sutton. We are aiming to get some iPads, tablets and kindles for the hospital - to provide patients with some extra entertainment during an already difficult time. We have also thought of several ideas with regards to future talks and I have also decided alongside my auto biography I would like to write a self-help/motivation book for cancer patients and their families.
Flicking through my vision book we both noticed some articles in there which I have written and think that it would be useful to put them out there along with their message and try help others in my situation.
So, all in all today was a bloody good day. We met some amazing people at Bryanston, got to share our messages, gained invaluable experience, have worked a few more things out and established a solid friendship. For me it is great to have got talking to another person my age who shares my drive and determination to succeed and excel in life.
Thanks to Bryanston and thanks to Ian for having us, to all the year 13's: you were awesome, thanks so much for the support and appreciation. Wishing you well for the future and please stay in touch!!!