The secondary school’s trustees, staff, students and families all came together virtually to celebrate the achievements of pupils at the end of term.
Lorna Miller, Head of Personal Development at Beacon Academy, said, “Having had to cancel our annual Honours Evening last year, we were thrilled to be able to gather together in some capacity for Beacon Academy’s fifth ceremony to celebrate the many achievements of students in Years 7 to 10 across all subject areas.”
She added: “It is now more important than ever that we acknowledge and celebrate all that our students have achieved during this time – both academically and also as they continue to develop as strong, socially responsible, kind, caring and compassionate members of society.
“This year, we were delighted to welcome back school alumnus, Will Bayley, MBE, as our guest speaker.
‘Will is currently busy training in preparation for the Tokyo Paralympics this summer. As one of our Beacon Alumni, we are thrilled that he was able to send us a special message for everyone at Beacon Academy and we wish him the very best of luck at Tokyo 2020.”
Will Bayley, MBE, is the Paralympic Class 7 Table Tennis Champion, Paralympic Athlete, Sporting Ambassador and Ability Advocate.
The Crowborough-born sports star was born with a rare congenital disorder that affected all four of his limbs, and spent his early years undergoing numerous operations at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
At the age of seven, Will returned to Great Ormond Street for chemotherapy when he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and it was while recovering from cancer that his grandmother bought him a table tennis table and his journey in the sport began.
During his talk at the online honours awards event, Will said: “I had an amazing time at Beacon, it was a special time in my life… I think it changed my life. I was never treated any differently even though I had a disability. I was always pushed in PE and that meant a lot to me, I felt like there were no excuses.”
He went on to talk about training for the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics – which start on August 24 – saying: “I’m hungry to make you guys proud and bring back a gold medal to the school.”
Will concluded with some words of motivation: “When your back is against the wall, that’s when you show what kind of character you are… Keep your head up, keep fighting and keep being positive and you’re going to be great.”
The Beacon Academy Core Values Award was presented to students who had consistently demonstrated the school’s core values to ‘inspire, believe, achieve and succeed’, and were handed out by the school’s Chair of Trustees, Ms Clare Collins, MBE.
The Make Your MARK Award was presented to students who had supported others through difficult times and made a difference to their life by Head of Personal Development Miss Lorna Miller.
The Headteacher’s blog told students: “This academic year has been an extraordinary year once again, and I would like to congratulate all of you who have been nominated.”
Headteacher Anna Robinson continued: “I think that says a huge amount about you as individuals and how you have faced this year despite all the challenges with such pragmatism, maturity and good humour.”
The evening also featured a solo dance performance from Year 11 student Izzy; music performed by Laura (Year 9) and Lana (Year 8); and a short performance of Oliver Twist performed by Year 7 students Laura-Louise, Jamie and Roma.