Students at SET Saxmundham School, part of the Seckford Education Trust, have been inspired with tales of determination and endeavour from Paralympic athlete and former Royal Marine, Joe Townsend. Mr Townsend was guest speaker at the school’s annual Celebration Evening held on September 20, where students of all ages were recognised for their achievements over the past academic year.

Joe Townsend inspired students at SET Saxmundham School with his passion for sport and his resilience in the face of adversity, which has led him to becoming one of the world’s best para-triathletes. After losing both legs in an explosion while on tour in Afghanistan as a Royal Marine Commando, Joe was determined to return to his previous fitness level, which led him to become a world-renowned para-triathlete. Joe competed in the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016 and won gold at the ITU World Triathlon Championships in 2017 and 2018. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Joe tackled his fear of heights by carrying the Paralympic Flame into the stadium with a dramatic high-wire entrance as part of the opening ceremony.

After sharing his motivational story, Mr Townsend presented awards and prizes to students in Years 7 to 11 for their individual achievements and progress made in academic subjects, and success in extra-curricular activities such as Combined Cadet Force and Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Former Year 11 student Carrie-Ann Pearce was presented with the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award after achieving 10 GCSEs this summer, all at grade 6 and above. Carrie-Ann is now at Lowestoft Sixth Form studying towards A Levels in Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Law and Further Maths before following her dream of becoming a detective.

School leaver Charlie Topsom was also awarded for his achievement and progress made in his favourite subject, Art, after attaining a grade 7 at GCSE. Charlie made huge progress at

SET Saxmundham School, achieving almost two grades higher than expected when he started in Year 7. Charlie is now continuing his passion for Art at A Level at Thomas Mills High School.

David Lees, Headteacher at SET Saxmundham School, said: “It has been fantastic to look back on the past year and celebrate so many students for their individual successes and the progress they have made since joining us, especially our Year 11 leavers.

“I’d also like to thank Joe Townsend for joining our celebrations and for sharing his incredible life story, which demonstrates the rewards of being dedicated and committed to achieving success.”