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Ashfield old boy James comes back to help inspire the next generation

Playwright James Graham returned to where it all began for him at Ashfield School as guest speaker at its celebration evening.

The event celebrated students’ many varied achievements, from those who took part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s to the talented winners of the BTEC Awards 2018 Showstopper Challenge, or those students who put in maximum effort all year round.

Playwright James Graham was guest speaker at Ashfield School

Playwright James Graham was guest speaker at Ashfield School

Following the handing out of many well-deserved awards, James Graham delivered a heart- felt speech that clearly moved many members of the audience.

It made so many in the room feel proud of where they come from and opened their eyes to a whole new world of opportunity and inspiration.

He urged the students to follow their dreams whatever the obstacles.

At points, his speech inspired laughter, but the message was strong – dream big and believe in your future.

He added that he ‘wouldn’t be doing what he is doing today without the help and guidance of Ashfield School.’

This made us all proud to be a part of this school and made it possible for us to see what we can accomplish in the years ahead.

It is always eye opening to see someone who comes from the same place and went to the same school as you become so successful in such a competitive field.

James has had many successes in life with plays like Labour of Love and Finding Neverland, and his career goes from strength to strength.

He is currently working on a documentary about Brexit, to be aired on Channel 4 and starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

‘The most important thing,’ he said, ‘was to just try things and to persevere, regardless of the judgement of others or where you come from’.

He talked of gaining the role of Oliver in a school production of Oliver Twist but discovered he couldn’t sing and so had to mimic the singing of somebody else’s voice throughout the whole show – to great success.

He let nothing stand in his way and continued to follow his dream.

The speech succeeded in inspiring many of the students present to follow their dreams and do what counts.

Looking into the audience afterwards, there was a very noticeable smile on everyone’s face and the atmosphere was completely uplifted.

He added that his experience at Ashfield School really impacted upon his career.

We’re also lucky to have the opportunities offered by Ashfield, and it’s time for this inspiration to guide us to do what we dream of doing, decide our own fate, follow our dreams and shoot for the stars.