World Cup win­ning sports­man inspires stu­dents to make a stand

Grimsby Telegraph - - Academy Awards - By Abby Rus­ton abby.rus­ton@reach­

RUGBY Union Cham­pion Ben Cohen met with Somer­cotes Academy stu­dents be­fore hand­ing out 86 awards at their an­nual pre­sen­ta­tion evening, held at the River­head Theatre, Louth. The World Cup win­ning sports­man told stu­dents: “Don’t be a by-stander, be an up-stander and sup­port those who need you.”

Ben, who has 58 caps and scored 31 tries for Eng­land be­fore his re­tire­ment from rugby in 2011, vis­ited the Academy re­cently ahead of their awards night. The nephew of Eng­land 1966 Foot­ball World Cup win­ner Ge­orge Cohen, Ben was a mem­ber of the his­toric 2003 Eng­land World Cup win­ning Rugby squad.

He played most of his club ca­reer for Northamp­ton Saints RFC, be­fore join­ing French side Brive, and then re­turn­ing to com­plete his re­mark­able ca­reer as a pro­lific try scorer at Sale Sharks.

A founder of his very own StandUp Foun­da­tion, which was cre­ated in 2011 to help com­bat bul­ly­ing and ho­mo­pho­bia fol­low­ing the death of his fa­ther in a night­club at­tack, Ben now chan­nels his time fight­ing is­sues he feels pas­sion­ately about.

Meet­ing PE stu­dents dur­ing a tour of the academy, he shook hands with each of them. He told them how he fell into rugby by chance at the age of 12, af­ter turn­ing up to watch a friend play and be­ing roped in be­cause they were short of play­ers. De­spite be­ing told “at least 30 or 40 times” that he would never make it big, he “just kept go­ing back” un­til Northamp­ton Saints signed him up. “Be­ing told no and los­ing is char­ac­ter build­ing.” he ex­plained.

“Know not to panic and you will earn so much from these sit­u­a­tions and they make you stronger. Never be afraid to ask for help, it made me learn a lot faster.”

Ben, who de­scribed his ca­reer as “a fan­tas­tic jour­ney,” said that af­ter his sports ca­reer ended he was de­ter­mined to use his high pro­file to be­come a role model for oth­ers.

“A lot of sports peo­ple forego ed­u­ca­tion for sport and then when their ca­reer ends they don’t know what to do. You have an amaz­ing school here and you should take every sin­gle one of the fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­ni­ties it of­fers you to learn right now.”

Frances Green, Somer­cotes Academy prin­ci­pal, said much the same in her ad­dress to the au­di­ence at the Awards Night. “Take a risk in order to be suc­cess­ful, ques­tion and chal­lenge in the right way,” she told stu­dents.

Awards were pre­sented for achieve­ment and progress in the pre­vi­ous aca­demic year. The win­ner of the most pres­ti­gious award of the night, the chief ex­ec­u­tive’s spe­cial award for Out­stand­ing Stu­dent, went to Char­lie Brady, who is now study­ing for his A Lev­els at Toll­bar MAT Sixth Form College. The award was pre­sented by Martin Brown, deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive of TMAT, who de­scribed Char­lie as “a po­lite and cour­te­ous stu­dent who achieved a 9 in Chem­istry GCSE, an 8 in Bi­ol­ogy and an 8 in Physics – grades which re­flected his in­tel­li­gence and com­mit­ment to his stud­ies.” Char­lie said: “I only joined the Academy in Year 10 af­ter mov­ing here from Kent. Somer­cotes Academy was bril­liant. I re­ally en­joyed my time there.” Through­out the evening, mu­si­cal en­ter­tain­ment was provided by ac­com­plished pi­anist Char­lie Beev­ers and stun­ning vo­cal­ist Lu­cie Wells, whilst Somer­cotes Academy choir closed the evening with a rous­ing per­for­mance of This Is Me, from The Great­est Show­man.

Pic­tures: Hull News & Pic­tures Limited

Somer­cotes Academy Pre­sen­ta­tion with guest speaker, for­mer rugby in­ter­na­tional and World Cup win­ner Ben Cohen. He is pic­tured meet­ing stu­dents and staff in the fit­ness suite at the academy.

Char­lie McAl­lis­ter, who plays rugby for Mar­ket Rasen, meets his hero Ben Cohen.

Eloise Vines re­ceives the prin­ci­pal’s cup for best value added GCSE re­sults.

Ben meets the rugby and net­ball stu­dents.

Georgia Beev­ers re­ceives the Philip Bond Award for Best GCSE Re­sults.

Char­lie Brady re­ceives the chief ex­ec­u­tive’s spe­cial award for out­stand­ing stu­dent.

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