It’s September – so it’s School Prize Day! Having sat through the usual formalities of speeches, the long list of achievements and activities of the previous academic year, words of wisdom and thanks, I settled in to listen to the Guest of Honour’s speech. This year our special guest was Mr Phillip Eaglesham PLY, Former Royal Marines Commando, 2 x Paralympian and Mental Health Advocate and Entrepreneur. His title on the programme was intriguing and I really wasn’t sure what to expect from his speech. Mr Eaglesham, a former pupil of RSD, described how during his career in the armed forces he contracted a very rare disease that left him both physically and mentally devastated. This led him into a very dark place with thoughts of taking his own life. Listening to Mr Eaglesham recount his journey thus far with his world championship win, his growing business and his passion for promoting mental health, not to mention his resilience when it comes to his treatment, made me think not only has he triumphed over adversity, but he is triumphant with adversity as his constant companion. His speech was very personal, very moving and at times very amusing. He was keen to get his message across to the students in particular, encouraging us to take every opportunity and ignore those who would discourage or criticise our plans and aspirations. His journey was not just inspiring to all who listened, silenced as we all were by this man who spoke from his heart without a script in sight (impressive in itself!), but more than that, he instilled a sense of, no matter what life throws at you, there are better days ahead. His journey, both good and bad, isn’t over yet, but his enthusiasm for life, the future, and everything his journey continues to be, was something I took with me and I hope everyone else in the room took a little of that too.
– Written by Chloe McCollum, Year 14