TV star from Sutton Coldfield visits town school to share secrets of success

A famous TV star who started out in Sutton Coldfield has returned to a school in her hometown to share the secrets of her success. Presenter and former model Emma Willis met starstruck pupils at Plantsbrook School in the heart of the town to tell them how she reached the top.
Emma, who was born and grew up in Sutton, is one of 100 BBC stars who are visiting schools across the UK as part of Share Your Story, a storytelling tour celebrating the Corporation’s centenary by engaging with 250,000 students.
The 46-year-old is best known for presenting shows including The Voice, Big Brother, and Delivering Babies, spoke to students about her journey to stardom, before answering their questions.
Headteacher Jason Farr said: “It was a wonderful opportunity for Plantsbrook students to hear Emma Willis share her story, on how she has achieved her success. It is so important that young people get to engage with successful people, to be inspired by their examples.
“And it was even more powerful knowing that Emma is from our area. It was an inspiring and unforgettable day, and we are tremendously grateful to Emma and the BBC for sharing their time with us.”
Share Your Story takes a ‘diverse group’ of 100 BBC Storytellers into schools across the UK, to share stories of their personal journeys, setbacks and successes. BBC Storytellers involved include ‘relatable and inspiring’ BBC staff and well-known BBC stars from TV, radio, sport and news, such as Greg James, Stacey Dooley, Alex Scott, Laura Kuenssberg, Graham Norton and Ade Adepitan.
The BBC has teamed up with the National Literacy Trust, charity Voice 21, and the British Film Institute’s Into Film programme for the scheme, in which pupils are also supported to tell their own stories in class, in the form of a poem, a rap, a film or a speech.
Story and Pictures courtesy of “My Sutton Coldfield”

Arthur Terry student Sarah tells council chiefs to support families hit by sepsis

An inspirational Arthur Terry student who had to look after her mum when she caught a life-threatening condition took her campaign for improved support to the corridors of power, when she appeared before the biggest local authority in Europe to demand urgent action.

Year 9 student Sarah Gibson took the floor at a full meeting of Birmingham City Council on Tuesday, July 12 to ask a question about support for families who are affected by Sepsis, which struck down her mum Ali in 2019.

Sarah, who was just 11 years old at the time, cared for her mum as they were not aware of the support that was available to families in their situation.

Sepsis is the body’s over-reaction to an infection or injury, which causes the immune system to attack its own organs and tissues. It affects 245,000 people every year in the UK and is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide (11 million people).

Sarah asked a question of the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for Health and Social Care, Cllr Mariam Khan.

She told the council:

“I first came into contact with the serious effects of sepsis through my mum in 2019. This experience was very difficult and frightening for me as I did not know what Sepsis was. Even now, three years on, my mum is still struggling with the long-lasting effects that this condition has caused. Sepsis has led to anxiety for my mum’s wellbeing. This is all because she got no support.
“Nationally, 245,000 are directly affected yearly, not to mention the family of each person like me. My mum was offered no support. I had to care for her and myself when I was only 11. This is something no child should have to suddenly and irreversibly carry the responsibility for, but thousands have no choice but to. It is vital that patients are signposted towards UK Sepsis Trust services at the hospital. Awareness for sepsis is essential to save lives and lower the death rate of some 48,000 people every year.
“Will you commit to embedding signposting towards sepsis support systems like the Sepsis Trust at hospitals across Birmingham for patients and families?”

National charity the UK Sepsis Trust, which was founded in Birmingham by a doctor working at Good Hope Hospital, exists to support this hit by the condition and backed Sarah in her big moment at the council.

The Trust’s Fundraising Manager Brian Davies, who accompanied Sarah to the council meeting, said he had been ‘hugely impressed’ by the maturity and determination she had shown in demanding action.

He said: “Sarah showed great courage and determination to speak at the council and got across her point with real conviction.

“She and her family have experience of how Sepsis can impact on lives and have long-lasting effects. The UK Sepsis Trust is is proud to provide a free, confidential and compassionate helpline service, facilitated by our dedicated team of specialist sepsis nurses.

“However, effected families often don’t know about us, or aren’t pointed towards us when they need support the most.

“Sarah’s idea to embed signposting to help families affected by sepsis find us, and access our services and support, is a simple move that could improve the lives of so many people impacted by this terrible condition.”

Sarah found out about the trust during an ‘experience of the workplace’ careers event at the Arthur Terry School, which is part of the respected Arthur terry Learning Partnership (ATLP), where Brian was acting as a mentor.

Another mentor at the event, ATLP Trust member Councillor Alex Yip, arranged for Sarah to ask her question at Birmingham City Council’s full meeting, bringing the issue of sepsis to the attention of more than 100 elected councillors in the Second City.

Lauren Murphy, Sarah’s form tutor, said: “We are so proud of Sarah and the stand she has made about this issue, which has had such an impact on not only her own family but thousands of others.

“It was a privilege to see her speak to the council and we all hope the councillors will act on the suggestion she made.”

Courtesy Gary Phelps Communications Ltd

Passport to joy!

Passport to joy! Office Manager Caroline gets MP on board to bid children a “bon voyage”

A dedicated school worker teamed up with her MP to ensure two children didn’t miss the boat in joining their classmates on a dream holiday to France, after a last-minute passport mix-up.

When Year 6 Mere Green Primary pupils Taiya-Lea Brown and Daniel Wharrad faced missing the June school trip due to not having their passports back, school office manager, Caroline Dempsey made it her mission to help the children.

She enlisted the help of Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell to secure both passports in the nick of time. This included an 11th hour dash on a Sunday – just one day before the holiday – to the Liverpool passport office, which opened especially, following a heartfelt plea from Caroline and Mr Mitchell.

Caroline, who has worked at Mere Green Primary School, part of the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP), for four months, said: “Our children have been looking forward to this holiday, especially after the last couple of years. When we realised (insert the two children’s names) wouldn’t have their passports back in time, I wanted to do all I could to help.

“I contacted Andrew Mitchell, who immediately responded and volunteered to help. We managed to get one passport delivered on the Friday, but the other was not dispatched as promised. We then tried to arrange delivery on the Saturday, with no joy. Daniel was devastated, but we did not give up hope. Andrew worked tirelessly to arrange for the Liverpool Passport Office, which is normally closed on a Sunday, to open and the family drove up to collect the passport.

“As a result, both children made the trip and had an amazing time alongside their classmates! Enormous thanks to Andrew and Liverpool Passport Office for saving the day. It’s been my pleasure to do this and seeing the children and their classmates return from their holiday with smiles on their faces, is the most rewarding part of it all.”

Mr Mitchell said: “I’m delighted that Daniel and Taiya-Lea could join the other children, and that they’ve had a wonderful adventure.  When Caroline contacted me, it was clear just how much this holiday meant to all the children, and I was only too happy to help.

“Caroline selflessly devoted hours of her own time, including across the weekend, to help these families. Her tenacity and dedication to the children is commendable – she went beyond the call of duty, and that level of care is reflected across our schools in the town.

“We were very fortunate to secure this support and result, but I understand that this is not the case for everybody. I want to thank all those involved, especially Liverpool Passport Office, who pulled out all the stops to ensure two children did not miss out. What a wonderful end to term and what stories they will have to tell!”

The Mere Green pupils returned from their holiday to Paris on Monday. Headteacher Kristal Brookes said they had an “amazing time” and praised Caroline’s “hard work and determination.”

Speaking about their holiday, Taiya-Lea Brown said: “Having the support given to me by Andrew Mitchell made me feel exceptional. I am grateful that he was contacted because I thankfully got my passport and went to France.

“In France, I enjoyed seeing all the monuments and learning things that I didn’t know before. Going on this trip was a memory that I could never forget.”

Plantsbrook Students Get A Taste Of College Life

Dozens of students from Plantsbrook School got a taste of life in higher education when they spent a day at Sutton Coldfield College. More than 60 Year 10 students from Plantsbrook, which is part of the Broadleaf Partnership Trust, enjoyed the taster day at BMet’s Lichfield Road campus. The students began the day with a talk from college Vice Principal Anna Jackson, before finding out more about career pathways and post 16 opportunities on offer, while also meeting BMet experts and teaching staff. Subjects included everything from Applied Law and Criminology to Travel and Tourism, and from Health and Social Care to life in the Uniformed Public Services.

Plantsbrook students interested in BMet’s Football Academy course spent the day at Boldmere St Michael’s football ground, being put through their paces by the coaching staff. Anna Jackson, Vice Principal of the college, said: “The taster day was about giving the students an opportunity to see what it feels like to be a Sutton Coldfield College student, while also giving them information on the wider support we provide, from bursary help or enrichment activities to the pastoral support students can get here.           “We give them a welcome at the start of the day, and then they go off into the particular areas that they have chosen to get some more information, look around and ask questions. “A day like this also gives them assurance about what they can expect if they decide to come to the college, by allowing them to have a look around the campus and get used to the social spaces, like the student centre. “Moving from school to college is a big step, so spending a day here is a valuable experience.”

Plantsbrook headteacher Jason Farr said: “This was an event organised specifically for those students who may be considering college as an option and aimed to give them a real understanding of the opportunities available to them in Sutton. “We are very grateful to Sutton Coldfield College for providing such a useful and wide-ranging taster day for our students, which not only allowed them to find out about the subjects they could study there, it also allowed them to see the facilities first-hand.”

Courtesy of Gary Phelps Communications

Students Step Into The Dragons Den

Press Release

Students at Sutton Coldfield’s Arthur Terry School stepped into the Dragon’s Den when they took part in a day-long challenge designed to build their teamwork skills. Nearly 300 Year 9 pupils at the school, which is part of the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP), tackled the ‘RGWM challenge’, where they were tasked with producing ideas to help regenerate the West Midlands with the support of business mentors.

Lined up as ‘dragons’ were local businesses leaders, while the region’s Mayor, Andy Street, provided a video welcome to launch the day, and promised to review their best ideas too.

Then the students were split into small groups, supported by their form tutors, and encouraged to come up with original, sustainable ideas that could improve the lives of local people.

The best group from each form then presented their project in the hall Infront of the entire year 9 assembly and the assembled Dragons who chose an overall winner.

The winner was brilliant mental health project called ‘mindful motors’, which would combine a tour of Birmingham’s most inspirational sights with access to support and advice. Students wanted to convert a double decker bus, fitting it out with a quiet zone, advice centre, music and library to provide a mobile mental health resource that could tour the region.

Councillor Alex Yip said: “All the guests were impressed with the engagement of the students, their behaviour, and the inclusion for Special Educational Needs students was also noted. “The winning project was a very impressive initiative to redesign a double decker tour bus for mental health support. “It was saddening to hear how mental health was such a priority for students and how so many have struggled but had to make do.”

The mentors who gave up their time were Ben Keefe of AYK Capital , David Hulson and Kal Gurung of Mott MacDonald, Dawn Hall of Jericho, Rebecca Horner of Walsall College, Brian Davies, of UK Sepsis Trust, Careers Enterprise Advisor Ken Hutchinson, Chris Brewerton of Sutton Coldfield Chamber of Commerce, Katharine Olie of Pathway CTM and Birmingham City Councillor, Alex Yip, who is also a Trustee on the ATLP board.

Chris Brewerton said: “We are really supportive of Arthur Terry, and it’s great to be involved in encouraging the next generation of Sutton business people, as well as out chosen charity UK Sepsis Trust, who are also taking part.”

The Trust’s Brian Davies said: “We were delighted to be involved because a great deal of our work is done through schools – we have a programme that raises awareness and involves 375 schools across the country. Days like this are great for helping students develop the kind of soft skills they will need in life and we’re very happy to support.”

Arthur Terry Director of Careers Alex Zarifeh said: “Our RGWM challenge’ was a great success and I would like to extend a huge ‘thank you’ to each of the mentors who gave an entire day to support nearly three hundred Year 9 students.

“The day helped the students learn a little of the types of challenges the world of work presents; working in new teams, collaboratively working towards a set project brief, networking and presentation skills.”



AT RGWM 1 & 2 Mentors assemble at Arthur Terry School before the RGWM challenge.

 AT RGWM 4  Arthur Terry Director of Careers Alex Zarifeh talks to the students.

 AT RGWM 5 The winners with Arthur Terry headteacher Sam Kibble.


Students, staff and visitors at a Sutton school will have access to potentially life-saving equipment after new defibrillators were installed across the site, thanks to generous donations. The Arthur Terry School, which only had one defibrillator on its large site at Kittoe Road, now has three thanks to support from teacher recruitment agency Zest Education and the school’s Parents Association. The Lichfield-based agency decided to step in and fund a defibrillator and cabinet after seeing the plight of Swedish footballer Christian Eriksen, who suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch at the Euro 2020 championships, before being revived by one of the devices. Zest’s Partnership Director Brad Johnson said: “We have had an excellent relationship with the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership for many years now, providing teaching and support staff across their network of primary and secondary schools, and helping their students with interview techniques, CV writing and fundraising events. “So, when we were asked for help with the purchase of either a defibrillator or defibrillator storage cabinet for the Arthur Terry School, it was an easy decision to make. Zest bought and supplied both a defibrillator and the cabinet within days of being approached. “We all hope that equipment such as this is never needed, however, as we witnessed with the case of Christian Eriksen, which highlighted just how critical a defibrillator can be. Without this level of specialist intervention at that very moment, medical officials are all in agreement that he would never have survived, much less, go on to make an unlikely return to topflight football. “Having this new addition at the Arthur Terry School, will hopefully give peace of mind to staff, students and parents, and reassure them that they now have further means to reduce or prevent serious incidents on site.” Headteacher Samantha Kibble said: “We are so grateful to Zest Education and our wonderful Parents Association for funding these new defibrillators. “Our school covers a very large site, so having three of these life-saving devices in strategic locations will maximise their coverage, and ensure that there’s always a defibrillator available when needed. “All First Aiders on site know how to operate the defibs, however anyone in school would be able to use them as they are fully automated.”


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