Olympic rower inspires students to tackle life’s many challenges

Axe Valley Community College students meet Ben Hunt-Davis.

Axe Valley Community College students meet Ben Hunt-Davis. - Credit: Archant

Young people from The Axe Valley Community College joined fellow pupils from the area for an inspirational talk by Olympic gold medal-winning rower Ben Hunt-Davis.

The founder of the performance consultancy, Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?, was invited to speak to the East Devon Secondary School Partnership as part of its ‘Building Character Programme’. Supported by a grant from the Department for Education, the project is designed to help pupils to develop resilience, leadership, community and curiosity.

On behalf of the five schools in the group, Axe Valley head Martin Smith said: “We were delighted to host Ben Hunt-Davis’s motivational speech to students. His message was incredibly powerful and relevant to all of us.

“Striving to improve and succeed in whatever pursuit is not just about working harder.

“Sometimes you need to step back and review how you are working and if you need to approach a challenge differently.

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“When Ben and his team made this change in their approach for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, they transformed themselves from a crew of mediocre athletes into gold medal winners! This struck a chord with the students and has hopefully inspired them to think critically about their own journeys as learners.”

Ben Hunt-Davis said: “It was a pleasure for me to come down to East Devon and talk to the students. I am very lucky that I get to share my story all over the world, but going back to schools is without doubt the most rewarding place for me to be. We managed to reach some kids who are normally quite reserved or disengaged and if just one of those guys changes how they perform then it will have been worthwhile.”

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