I knew instinctively that I was in a safe place at last

“I live on a rough estate in London. At times it is unbearable heading downstairs in the morning, with the overwhelming smell of a mixture of smoke, alcohol and the stench of urine. When I finished primary school I knew that I had to get away from there. 

“On my first day at King Edwards,  I wasn't scared, on the contrary, I was full of excitement because I wasn't starting  just  any secondary school but a boarding school. As I walked out of the coach onto the compound with my new friend Tilly,  I knew instinctively that I was in a safe place. Through my eyes,  the school was enormous. It took me a couple of days to find out where everything was. It also took a couple of weeks for people to realise I was ten not six! 

“As I got older, I cherished every second that I was in King Edwards School.  Without this privilege,  I would never have had the opportunity and equipment to accomplish all I experienced at the school.  Back at home, it’s terrifying walking alone in the dark whereas in King Edwards all my surroundings are safe. 

“There are so many memories that I will not forget. My first ever-camping trip in the school woods was amazing. I had never camped in my life. The majority of girls were not looking forward to getting all muddy By the end of the camping trip we realized that girls were more capable with the outdoors than the boys. 

“Another moment I will treasure forever will be when the school was covered in snow. I felt like I stepped into Narnia. The school looked like an ice palace. The snow has an effect on people that can change their moods in an instant. As we rushed downstairs there was a sea of girls wrapped up ready to embrace the snow. Matron wouldn’t let me out on till I put my jacket on. I looked like an oversized penguin. As we got outside we were bombarded by snow. We had a huge snow fight; students vs. teachers. The students came out victorious. The teachers that participated were caked in snow.

“The riots in London, the worst of which happened very close to my home happened whilst I was waiting for my GCSE results.  The reality of the difference between the two environments I had grown up in became glaring and I realized how much the school meant to me. I prayed for a decent set of results to ensure I wouldn’t have to stay at home terrified of what tomorrow would bring.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience such an amazing education, friends and activities.  In saying this, I would also like to thank King Edward’s School, the current, past and present head teachers and staff for going the extra mile with me on so many occasions.  I never knew that I could ever stand in front of a group of such distinguished people to speak, but such is the level of confidence that this opportunity has given me.