Jessica Toogood, True Tube, guest at the June 2014 awards ceremony

My birthday this year was certainly one to remember. I was walking to work in the middle of a roasting London, soaking up the sunshine we’ve all been waiting for, just as I had done for the past few days. However yesterday was slightly different to my normal day at work. It was my twenty third birthday and I was invited to an event which has left a big smile on my face ever since. The Speakers School Council Awards is an annual event hosted at the Houses of Parliament. It is a chance for students across the UK to raise their voices and be acknowledged for their creativity within different school council projects. The categories are split into four groups covering the age ranges four to nineteen. I arrived early afternoon, where I was escorted through the Houses of Parliament to where the ceremony would take place. The magnificently decorated room was packed with overwhelmed children, enthusiastic teenagers and nattering adults. We were all waiting for the award ceremony to begin. The Speaker Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, hosted the event and made everybody feel at ease. I’m sure like myself, many of the people in the audience had been curious to know what it was like inside this beautifully secretive building and I don’t think anybody went away disappointed.

The winners were announced one group at a time, and were given the recognition and praise they deserve. Students from each group found the courage to do a thank you speech, each one as humble and flawless as the next. The range of different projects was inspiring in itself. From over 700 entries, the winning projects covered themes such as job training, the environment and mental health. Even though I did not know any of the students personally, I felt an overwhelmingly proud of each and every one of them. It has certainly made me proud to have a job within the education sector where the creativity of the next generation has room to flourish.

Jessica Toogood