Inaugural Alumni Award Winners Announced
Alumni News Of Former Pupils

Bolton School has announced the winners of its inaugural Alumni of the Year Awards. There were two clear winners. Sir Philip Craven was voted Old Boy of the Year and Dr Sheila Fisher was voted Old Girl of the Year; there were also two awards for outstanding achievement, which went to Rebecca Turner and to the duo of Max Griffiths and Sam Yates.

Head of Foundation Mr Britton, presiding over a rare joint assembly of girls and boys from Junior and Senior Schools, lauded all the winners for their valuable contribution to society. Each, he said, had gone out into the world and made it a better place. Three of the four winners were on stage to inspire the next generation of Bolton School pupils and each gave a thank you speech and an overview of their career.

Sir Philip Craven recapped his life, recalling how he had broken his back aged 16 in a climbing accident but had not let that hold him back. He told how he had noticed a wheelchair basketball game taking place out of his hospital window and had decided that sport would be his salvation. Whilst he had been given an offer to study at Cambridge, he chose the University of Manchester because it was nearer to his club, the Southport wheelchair basketball team. He joked that he went on to achieve a First Class honours in basketball. Touching on some of the highlights of his career, he reflected upon: taking part in five Paralympic games and the two years he spent playing wheelchair basketball in France, winning the national league and cup; his work with the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation and as President of the International Paralympic Committee; his employment with British Coal and the Toyota Motor Corporation; and how, somehow, he had squeezed in a year as Chair of the Old Boltonians’ Association! He concluded his talk by saying that the most pleasing thing about the award had been that it was voted for ‘by my peers’ and he thanked the audience ‘for making me feel young again!’

Dr Sheila Fisher, a Governor at Bolton School for almost 40 years and former Vice-Chair of the Girls’ Division, told how her schooling had instilled in her values for life and provided her with the confidence to live her dream. She broke her journey down into four acts for the assembly. Act 1, she said, was as the first woman Consultant Maxillofacial Surgeon, caring for people with cancers of the head or neck and for those who had endured facial trauma. Act 2, she explained, was, after she had suffered from inflammatory arthritis, as a Medical Researcher. Act 3 was as a proud mum to two sons and Act 4, which she is currently in, as a Minister at church, a trustee at her local hospital and as a Director at a Multi-Academy Trust. She told the pupils aged 10 to 18 that life is not about what you get but what you give and ended by saying: ‘Bolton School has been at the core of my life. This award means more than I can say. Thank you very much!’

The Outstanding Achievement for an Old Girl went to Rebecca Turner, who left in 2006 and is now a primary school Design Technology teacher. Rebecca told how, in 2020, she lost her brother Tom, aged just 20, to leukaemia. She said that she chose to be positive and, rallying his friends and family, pledged to support Blue Sky Hospital Funds. In the first year of fundraising, she raised £15,000 and in the following a year, a further £10,000. She explained how she will continue to raise funds every May, which is the month in which Tom died. She finished her talk by saying: ‘I loved my time at Bolton School and I still have some very special friends from that time. Thank you so much for this award.’

The award for Outstanding Achievement amongst Old Boys went to Max Griffiths and Sam Yates. The pair had other commitments on the day and joined the assembly via a pre-recorded video message. They explained about LivLife, a self-sustainable charity that they had set up, which offers education and empowerment to young people in Tanzania. It is a project that the School has, in the past, raised funds for and sent students to help out with. Max and Sam looked back on their days at Bolton School with fond memories and recalled how it inspired their interest in travel and the world and how it had doubtlessly influenced their setting up of LivLife.

After the assembly, the award winners delivered more personal, fascinating sessions with year groups from across both Senior Schools before attending a special lunch, where they were formally presented with their awards.

You can watch the morning assembly through this link.

Alumni of the Year Awards 2023

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