We are delighted that Frank Bruno MBE is a patron of our school. Frank is probably best known for becoming the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World in September 1995 after defeating Oliver McCall at Wembley Arena. In all, Frank won 40 of his 45 contests and 38 of these victories were by knock-outs; an outstanding record.
One of the reasons we contacted Frank is that he attended a school similar to The Gateway School and he is a great role model for our students in showing them what can be achieved when you set your mind to something. Frank has faced challenges both in and out of the ring and has always done so with determination, dignity, humour and humility. It is these qualities which set him apart from many others and which we could all do well to learn from.
Another quality of Frank’s is his bravery: it goes without saying that to get into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson (once, let alone twice!) and people nicknamed ‘Bonecrusher’ takes a degree of bravery beyond that which most of us could muster.
But it is Frank’s bravery and honesty in talking about his battles with mental health issues, which continue to earn him the respect of those whose affection he won as a boxer.
In our view, he is still a World Champion and we are delighted he has agreed to be our patron and advocate for the interests of our pupils.
Over the years I have had many requests to visit schools and other organisations and I have always been glad to do so. When I was asked to visit The Gateway School I thought it would be another one-off visit, which I was glad to do. I got to look round the school and meet almost every pupil and member of staff and I was blown away by what a great job they are doing to help children who are facing challenges similar to many I have faced in my life. The Gateway School is a fabulous place with facilities I could only have dreamed of when I was younger.
Despite all this though, there are still challenges that face the school and its students. On my travels I have been amazed at the generosity the public show for children’s charities, especially those which support children with a range of disabilities and life-limiting conditions – and rightly so. The problem we have at The Gateway School (and many schools like it) though, is that the children we teach are not always seen as ‘being in need’ or ‘disabled’ and this means that they get very little support from charities of any kind.
Many of the students at the school have either suffered or witnessed traumatic events in their lives and others have conditions, which make their behaviour very difficult to manage. All this colours their outlook on life and can seriously prevent them from achieving what they are capable of, or even from living a happy and settled life. I think this is a massive issue for them and those of us that care about them and one which we need to support schools like TGS in addressing.
It is for these reasons that I have agreed to be a patron of the school and to do all I can to represent the interests of the students there so that we can support them to become happy and well-adjusted young adults but also to make sure there is someone there to help when the going gets tough.
I hope you too will do all you can for the wonderful students in this fantastic school.
All the best,