A famous Olympic ski jumper and celebrity landed in Teesside this week (Monday 4 July) to help inspire teachers and education bosses.
Michael David Edwards, better known as ‘Eddie the Eagle’, was Guest Speaker at Ad Astra Academy Trust’s Festival of Education 2022 Conference at Teesside University, Middlesbrough.
Edwards rose to fame in 1988 when he became the first British ski jumper to appear in the Winter Olympics for over 60 years.
Despite finishing last, Edwards won the hearts of the nation for his effort and commitment, earning him celebrity status. He went on to carve out a successful career and in 2016 his life story was portrayed in the biographical film, Eddie the Eagle.
Over 200 delegates attended the annual event which has not been held for three years due to the pandemic.
Andy Brown OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Ad Astra Academy Trust, said: “The theme for this year’s event was that you don’t need to be perfect to be a good teacher or education leader and Eddie the Eagle is a brilliant example of how you can be successful without being at the top of your game.
“The whole ethos throughout Ad Astra and across our eight schools is that we work hard to create a togetherness so that staff can learn from one another and support each other.
“We don’t expect staff to have all the answers and never make mistakes. We want them to learn from their failures as much as their successes.”
Eddie the Eagle told delegates that from the age of 13, when he started skiing, it was his dream to compete in the Winter Olympics.
He added: It was through determination, resilience, and perseverance that I made it to the Olympics – all traits that are vital to teachers and those working in education.
“If you have a dream, you have to hold on to it and you’ll get there.”
Andy Brown also spoke at the event which was being chaired by BBC Radio Tees presenter Rachel Teate.
Another key speaker was Andrew Hammond, brother of former Top Gear co-host Richard Hammond. Andrew is a headteacher and author of several children’s books.
Chris Simmons, chair of the Ad Astra trustees gave a vote of thanks at the end. He said: “Schools are at the centre of communities, and I want to thank you all for your hard work.
“You fly the flag for our children. You love them, you teach them, you care for them, and you play a huge part in shaping their lives.”
Just under £450 was raised during the day for the Russ Devereux Headlight Project – a charity providing mental health support.
Ad Astra Academy Trust was formed in 2015 and over the last seven years has grown across the Tees Valley, providing education for over 3,000 pupils and 500 employees in Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees and Hartlepool.
Eighty-six per cent of its schools are judged by Ofsted to be either “outstanding” or “good”.
There are eight primary schools within Ad Astra Academy Trust. They are Barnard Grove, Brougham, West Park and West View in Hartlepool, Crooksbarn and Rosebrook in Stockton-on-Tees and Ayresome and Sunnyside in Middlesbrough.