The whole school “gathered” around the school site to listen to a talk from Nigel Owens, MBE. For those who don’t follow the sport of rugby, Mr Owens has refereed more international rugby matches than anyone else, including the World Cup final in 2015. The story that he told pupils, however, was about his upbringing and the extreme battles he had with anxiety, depression, self-esteem and identity. As he went through his teenage years in a small village in West Wales, Mr Owens came to the realisation that he was gay. This created a huge internal conflict for him as he wrestled with finding a way to balance the views of his society and social group and how he was feeling. Eventually this led to him attempting to take his own life. The contrast between the iconic rugby referee that we see on our screens and this image of a young man taken to his lowest point had a big impact on many of the pupils and staff listening. The lessons that Nigel shared with us centred on the importance of sharing our anxieties and fears, in being good friends to one another and in not trying to make ourselves perfect. It was one of those special talks that seems to have come at the right time for many.

Mrs McShane said, ‘It was a real privilege to be involved in the event and to ask Nigel such excellent questions put forward by our school community. I am sure his talk has had a hugely positive impact on both staff and pupils alike.’

Q&A with Nigel Owens MBE