AWARDS EVENING SPEECH
Former pupil, Mr Miro Griffiths MBE, was warmly welcomed to our recent Awards Evening by Ms Phillips. Mr Griffiths has been a government advisor on disabilities and as a result of his work received a MBE in the Queen s Birthday Honours List. Ms Phillips thanked Mr Griffiths for taking part in the ceremony and said that it was a privilege to have one of our ex-pupils return to us to present the prizes, particularly one who is such an outstanding role model and example to everyone.
Mr Griffiths Inspirational Speech
Hello, my name is Miro Griffiths and I would like to start by saying thank you to Ms. Phillips for inviting me back to my old school and giving me the opportunity to celebrate this great evening with you.
We are probably all tired from clapping and eager to go through for some refreshments, but I just want to take a few minutes to give you my thoughts on why an evening like this is important to me.
To start with, I think it would be useful to tell you a little bit about my background. I left this school 9 years ago hoping to work as a script writer in film & television, but after going through college and university I decided to follow a different path. After leaving college I went to study psychology at university, thinking that I would become a clinical psychologist. It was part way through my degree when I realised that I wanted to dedicate my time and energy to work in Civil and Human Rights. As a disabled person, I experience barriers on a daily basis which prevent me from becoming a valued member of my community and an equal member of society. This is the same for many other people in similar situations so after finishing my degree I continued studying with more focus on Civil and Human Rights.
My work is extremely varied; I carry out research into how much choice and control people have over their lives, I teach at universities and I work with local groups and national governments to advise them how to achieve a fairer society. I have had some great experiences such as working in China during the Paralympics, in America I worked with government officials to improve the rights of people who are excluded from their communities and I have worked across Europe to develop the life skills of young people in order to help them recognise when they are being treated unfairly. I have addressed the European Parliament and United Nations and also found myself presenting and appearing on television programmes across the world.
These were fantastic experiences, but the reason why I m telling you this because there are two important factors which I always think about when looking back over what I ve achieved and what I hope to do in the future.
The first one is identity. Everyone in this room should be proud of who they are and what they want to do with their lives. Even if you don t know at this point then that is absolutely fine because you are being honest to yourself and you will approach your future with an open and fresh outlook. I am very proud of who I am and what I represent; I feel included and valued with people I call my family, share similar interests with people I consider to be my friends, and work with people who have similar goals and aspirations. Your identity is shaped by who you want to be. This may change over time, depending on what you set as your goals and the people you ll engage with. You can be driven or you can approach your future with no fixed objectives but a desire to achieve something that you consider meaningful and which makes you proud of who you are.
The second factor, which is extremely important within the context of this evening, is the support we all receive to get to where we want to be. Whilst tonight is a celebration of your individual and collective achievements, and I m sure I speak for your family, friends and teachers when I say how proud you should be of your hard work and determination, tonight is also about remembering who supports you. There have been people who have supported me constantly throughout my life journey and there have been others who had a short role to play in helping me succeed and grow as a person; regardless of when they were in my life and for what purpose, each individual was as important as the next and I hope that they feel appreciated and valued. The support we receive is vital to our development, but we should always be prepared and willing to support others as well as acknowledge those who have supported us this far.
Everything you ve learnt up to now and all the experiences you ve had will help you develop into who you want to be. A day can never be wasted because every day gives you an opportunity to think about the future, think about what you mean to others and think about the contributions you ve made up to now.
Whatever you want to achieve, no matter what it is, you are as equal and valuable to the next person. All your contributions up to now have shaped not only your life but those around you and in your community; everyone here has a role to play but you have the opportunity to decide what that role should be.
Be proud of who you are and what you mean to others.
Thank you for your time.