I am here today to articulate how attending Reed’s school completely changed my life. This, of course, is an impossible task to achieve in few minutes, but I will try my best to relay how my childhood went from poverty, family dysfunction and distress, to hope and opportunity.
Just before I applied to Reed’s School, I was homeless. Me, my mother and my little sister were evicted from our home. We lost everything, and we had nowhere to go. This sparked the beginning of the year that I moved house six times. We jumped from relative to relative, sleeping on floor to floor, until we eventually moved in to temporary, emergency, accommodation. Shortly after, I moved abroad to live with my father, but when this resulted in further family distress, I moved back to London to find my sister, mother and her partner living in a one bedroom flat. Although I was extremely happy to be back, the situation there became somewhat challenging, as my mum’s partner suddenly suffered a series of strokes that left him severely disabled. He lost the ability to speak, and was unable to wash, eat, or go to the toilet on his own. My mother became his full-time carer, which often resulted in me and my sister becoming her second priority, as he required constant attention. With no money and no space, me and my sister slept on the living room floor in a chaotic flat. As my mother struggled to juggle the needs of those around her, her mental health worsened.
This is when I applied to be a Reed’s School pupil. This is when my world completely changed. This is when the hopelessness and fear and instability melted away. This is when the worry was lifted from my shoulders. Sometimes, even today, I feel uneasy when I, just for a moment, imagine where I would be, what I would be doing, and who I would have become, if I hadn’t benefited from the priceless opportunity that was a place to study and board at Reed’s.
For those of you that have been to Reed’s, seen its grounds, met its staff, spoken to its students, you will already know what a beautiful, thriving and welcoming school it is. But for me it goes far beyond this, it is where I grew up. It is a hub of wonderful and personal memories.
For me, the most significant and joyful memories I have of attending Reed’s are those I experienced as a boarder. This is because, beyond providing me with the best education and opportunities I could have ever asked for, Reed’s provided me with a home. I don’t think I can ever articulate what it feels like to go from the poverty, debt collectors and crime that me and my family suffered living in a council estate, to the security, stability and support I received living on my school’s grounds. This was a place of happiness, a place I could relax (although my housemaster can never know I told you that!), and more importantly a place where I could grow into a young adult with a bright future ahead of me. I was given the same opportunities as everyone else, and I could focus on my academia and change my future.
Another invaluable element of my Reed’s School education, was the fact that, due to the Dutch connection Reed’s initially had, from 1st form to 5th form, I was the only girl in my year. This is something I’m sure I will be quizzed on extensively after this speech, which I have been for my whole life since, but it is something that taught me a great deal and has certainly moulded who I am today. Being the only girl amongst all those boys taught me to be tenacious, it taught me to be patient, it taught me to be resilient and it taught me to be strong. It took me out of my comfort zone, and thus taught me everything I need to thrive in my career today.
After leaving Reed’s I went on to study at the University of Exeter. After fourteen hour shifts in the library, a somewhat dramatic change in diet (I was truly spoiled when it came to Reed’s School dinners) and virtually harassing my university professors until they answered every question I could think of, I graduated with a First Class Honours degree in English Literature last summer. Since then I have embarked upon my career in television, having researched for output on both Sky and the BBC. I have researched topics in medicine, mental health, sleep and social issues for BBC Tomorrow’s World and Holby City, as well as researching and interviewing famous British comedians for Sky1. I currently work at the BBC, in the script office at Holby City where I work extremely hard and I couldn’t be happier. I absolutely love reading all the scripts, analysing the storylines and characters, and I am hopefully on the right track to becoming a producer one day.
My mum often tells me that the day I got accepted into Reed’s was the day she won the lottery. And while for years I thought she was referring to money, I have realised as I have gotten older, that she was in fact referring to fortune. And this certainly resonates with the ethos that is Reed’s School, and the words of its founder ‘a good education is a fortune a child can never spend’. These words represent the foundation of who I am today. And that is why I am here now, because until I can start giving back myself, I will do anything to show you all that your support has helped so many before me and can continue to change the lives of so many after me.