Nicole Cooke visits as a Red Shoes Academy Ambassador

Nicole Cooke with Year 7 student Morgan Jones and Headteacher Mr McNamara

Nicole Cooke with Year 7 student Morgan Jones and Headteacher Mr McNamara

Last term Barry Comprehensive School won a Red Shoes Academy Ambassadors Competition visit. Colin Jackson’s Red Shoes Academy Sporting Ambassadors travel the four corners of Wales to visit schools and colleges in an initiative specifically designed to match the skills and experiences of elite sportsmen and women with promoting transferable skills across the curriculum. Barry Comprehensive School was one of the first schools to host a visit.

The aim of the competition was to encourage young people to take more opportunities to change their communities for the better.  The application had to be made in just 200 words and the focus for Barry Comprehensive’s entry was the work of the School Parliament and its five cabinets.

In November we received the good news that our entry had been successful and we would be one of thirty schools hosting a Red Shoes Academy Ambassador. Our ambassador was the Welsh Olympian cyclist Nicole Cooke who represented Great Britain at the 2008 Summer Olympics in the Women’s Road Race where she won the gold. She also became the first woman to become the road race World Champion and Olympic gold medalist in the same year. She credited her team mates for their work, as it was a group effort that contributed to her achievements.

Nicole Cooke delivered her unique assembly to year 7 and 8 students in December. Her performance literally began with a drum roll, as Mr. Kennedy, cycling enthusiast, ensured that the school’s percussion band were playing to celebrate Ms. Cooke’s entrance. Her speech to the students focused on the need for them to believe in themselves and then to ensure that they made it happen. Ms. Cooke described how she and her family had been very proactive at both a local and national level for her to have the opportunities she needed in order to succeed at world class level. Ms. Cooke also described herself as very ordinary, coming from a local comprehensive school in Bridgend, but it was clear to her audience that she has an extraordinary focus and commitment.

The assembly was followed by Nicole Cooke and Richard Owen, from the Red Shoes Academy, working with the Health and Fitness cabinet and the Community Cabinet. Both ambassadors were very generous with their time, ensuring they spent every minute possible with the young people, providing lots of practical examples for ensuring that every opportunity to succeed is maximised.

We would like to thank The Red Shoes Academy for this unique initiative:  the sharing of experiences between Ambassadors and students was inspirational and really did encourage us to believe we can all find the champion within.

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