Tottington High School was honoured when local MP, James Frith spoke at last Thursday evening’s Celebration of Excellence, which celebrates the fantastic achievements of our very best students. Mr Frith’s inspirational speech was very well received by all whom attended, so much so that we decided that it should be shared with a wider audience. So here it is in full…
 

It’s great to be here this afternoon. Today marks the award stage of the hard work that’s got you here. I know that success like this doesn’t happen overnight. So congratulations to you all.
 

I am especially proud to stand here as your fairly new Member of Parliament and address you, the future of Bury. Mums, Dads, Carers, family and friends. You will all be so proud this evening. Congratulations!
 

Let me start by saying that in me, you have a champion for your school. And in Parliament on Thursday I asked the Minister for schools to reconsider the case to re-build or repair your school. But I know it’s not just about buildings. And your performance and awards this evening haven’t needed new buildings to see you succeed.
 

My job here as I see it, isn’t just to dish out the prizes but to help draw your eyes to the horizon.
 

So whether you are near to leaver status or coming to the end of your first year here. Ask yourself. What do you stand for? 
 

And I want to talk to you about two things. Leadership and opportunity. 
 

What do you stand for? 
 

It’s about the contribution you make and the opportunities you take.
It will determine what others see in you or believe about you.
It will be the reason you succeed or a reason why you need to do a little bit more about getting the right answer to the question.
 

Progress is not automatic. Just as the progress you’ve made at this school, it comes with hard work and determination. Progress is not a right. It is a reward.
 

The point is this.
The answer to what do you stand for? is not about your shape or size or even the sound of your voice.
It’s about the space you leave in a room when you walk out of it?
If you are not there, what isn’t happening?
If you leave, what doesn’t get done?
 

And as you journey through this school and for leavers, on to the next stage of education and life, we are in a more and more competitive world. One that is rich with opportunity and anxiety. Of threats and promises. And you are the future of this world. This country. Our town. This school. And standing for something helps you stand out. A world that has great riches and rewards as well as huge uncertainty.
 

All too often be prepared for unfairness too.
Don’t sit still.
Be busy.
Be the fizz.
And imagine being the best you can be and go for it.
Engage.
Be active.
Plug in and contribute. 
VOTE!
 

Decide what you are standing for and live it out. Live it through your relationships, your career, your faith if you have one and your respect and love for others. 
 

Take opportunities.
Be an active yes person.
Have others think of you as someone to involve, to trust, to go to.
You are all leaders. You lead your own life already. So be a better leader.
Behave like one.
Leadership is a state of mind and an approach to life.
It’s not about being popular but taking ownership of a vision or a responsibility. 
 

And often it’s about putting others before yourself. And serving.
 

In Bury we have a brilliant mix of talents and opportunities. Too often though, nationally, a bleak picture is painted of young people and the opportunities you face. It is for you each to reach for those opportunities and for me and everyone else together to ensure those opportunities are there once you leave education.
 

So – stand up for what you believe in, demand a better deal from life, from politics, from yourself and give thanks for your family, our community and the shoulders of the giants that came before you, on which we all stand. And always remember your life will be shaped by the choices you make and the opportunities you take. Decide what you are standing up for, show leadership and get out there.
 

Thank you very much.