Persevere like Andy Murray, guest speaker tells award-winners

Families and staff celebrated with enthusiasm the achievements of boys in Years 7-9 at this year’s Junior Awards Ceremony. They enjoyed refreshments on the front lawn afterwards in warm sunshine, and the prize-winning boys and their families had the opportunity to mingle with Headmaster Neil Enright and teachers.

This year’s guest speaker was alumnus Akhil Shah (OE 2002-2009), who has blazed an exceptionally high-achieving academic trail, with 13 A* GCSEs; four A-levels at grade A , a distinction in the Advanced Extension Award in Economics and a double First in Economics from Selwyn College, Cambridge. In 2012 he was awarded the Patrick Cross Prize by the college for exceptional achievement in the Economics Tripos. In 2011, he won the PricewaterhouseCoopers Prize in Economics for best overall performance in Part 2A of the Tripos.

""“The prize-winners are all to be congratulated on their achievements and I also thank our young musicians, who played splendidly during the ceremony,” said the Headmaster, who is a geographer. “Akhil is an exceptional role-model for our boys and exhibits many of the qualities and accomplishments that we encourage all our pupils to strive for.”

During his address, Akhil spoke of the three key ingredients for success and achievement.: “I believe the first thing is to have a vision, the second is to work hard for it, and the last, and possibly the most challenging part, is to persevere through difficulties.”

""He told the boys that at their age, having a vision did not require a long-term plan: “When I was in your position I was thinking about which subjects I should study for GCSE which, despite Mr Enright’s best efforts, did not include Geography!”

He explained how a desire to study Economics at university led him to pick his A-levels and also to read widely around the subject to see how the subject related to real life. Prompted by a growing interest in Finance, he sought an internship with RBS before his final year of study at Cambridge. “Having a plan helped to focus my endeavours and actually made life a lot easier,” he said.

""He alluded to Andy Murray’s long journey to ultimate success in winning the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Championship supported by his family and friends. “I think sticking with it when things get tough is the hardest thing to do. It can be hard to let go of your pride and ask someone else for help. However, make sure you let your family, your friends and your teachers support you as you face challenges, because you can’t do it alone.”

He concluded by saying: “Don’t worry if you’re not the best or don’t get 100%; regardless of your grades, it will be your attitude that differentiates you. So just have that vision and work diligently, with perseverance and with modesty, and you really can achieve something incredible.”