Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Speech to Princes Trust presentation 10.08.16


Congratulations to everyone that has completed this latest programme by the Princes Trust and well done on your fantastic presentation today.

It takes a lot of courage to take yourself out of your every day environment and go into something completely new. Meeting new people – perhaps everybody is new – which can be very daunting. But you have done it and you should be incredibly proud of yourself for it.

Not only have you learnt new skills but you have given something back to the community – I was really pleased to see the work that had taken place at the Church of the Nazarene for your community project element and I know that what you have achieved there has been warmly received by Church attendees and there will be an ongoing benefit to the local environment – I wonder how many reservations there has already been at the very swish bug hotel that you made.

I hope you all enjoyed your work experience placements. Thanks to those businesses that supported the young people with their placements – I am sure that it has made a tremendous difference.

Whilst here I wanted to share with you a belief that I have that I have learnt through my life:

One of the best things about being Mayor is you get to go round to all sorts of places and talk to so many different people. One of the visits I attended a few weeks ago was a visit to each of the 12 schools in Thetford.

The favourite visit was to my own school in Thetford – Diamond Academy as it is now – Queensway Junior when I went there. Those young people I spoke to at schools obviously had no idea that in fact I was born on the same housing estate as them – I lived on the same street or neighbouring street to the children at the school. I went to the same school as them. What I wanting to convey to them and what I want to convey to you is that it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, it doesn’t matter if you’ve had a few setbacks in life – if you work hard and keep going, you can achieve whatever you want to achieve. When I was 18 I didn’t particularly have anywhere to live, I couldn’t afford to go to University. I got a part-time job in Thetford and stuck at it for 7 years – I was eventually made full-time. I set up my business – and it largely failed and cost me a lot of money - but I learnt a lot. I took a huge leap of faith a few years ago and sold my house and used some of the money to buy a new business which I run today – pleased to say this is much more successful. Not bad for someone that failed GCSE Maths and had to re-sit it before they’d let me into the Sixth Form. Being involved in politics can be particularly up and down. When I first stood for election as a Councillor I was 21, Iost by about 700 votes for the winner and 350 for me – a rather convincing defeat by I stood again the next year and won with a majority of 45. Then a year later I stood for Norfolk County Council, lost by 200. Stood again four years later and lost by a single vote – out of 9,000 people that could vote and I very very nearly threw everything in – I didn’t want to deal with the setbacks anymore – but an opportunity arose for me to go for it again and I won by 171 votes. And now all of a sudden I find myself as Mayor of Thetford – the youngest in the towns more than 800 years of having a Mayor.

So, you never know what is round the corner, but the only real way to achieve what you want to achieve is to work hard and stay positive.

I quite like motivation quotes, this one for me sums up what I’m trying to say:

“In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can”. “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time” Thomas Edison