A busy Spring Term for John Lyon Union has seen many speakers talk to Sixth Form students on a range of subjects, always engaging, often inspirational.
Visiting ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day in January, Richard Rampton talked about the work for which he became well-known, both in the British press and then on the big screen. In the early 1990s he was hired as the barrister for Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books who were defending themselves in a libel case against notorious Holocaust denier David Irving, dubbed by the media as ‘history on trial’. Rampton helped in the legal victory over Irving’s dangerous views and the case was then turned into a film, Denial, in which Rampton was portrayed by Tom Wilkinson.
In March, Johnson Beharry spoke with passion about his life, from troubled 20-year-old new to London having moved from Grenada, to hero soldier, whose actions in saving his comrades in Iraq were deemed so brave that he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest possible award for valour, the first to receive the award for more than 20 years.
One report read: “Terribly wounded and barely conscious, he drove backwards at high speed and to safety. Despite Beharry’s injuries, which included a fractured skull that would leave him in a coma for weeks, he saved the lives of all his fellow soldiers.”
Speaking after Johnson Beharry’s visit, John Lyon Union coordinator Mrs Maria Trafford said: “The key moment for me was when Johnson explained his decision making process when he realised his Warrior tank was in an ambush – the enemy surrounding him on three sides, ahead was an unexploded device – he decided that moving ahead gave the men in the Warrior a chance of survival, he positioned the engine over the land mine knowing that the engine would take the full force of the blast and that he would die, but at least the men would have a chance.
Such a clear decision making process that would result in his certain death, made to save others was the most sacrificial account I have heard first hand. In conversation with him for quite a while – for me, the knowledge that so many people had their fathers, brothers, husbands, sons because of him – quite speechless.”
John Lyon Union, takes place each Friday afternoon and sees guest speakers talk to Sixth Form students to provoke debate and discussion. Union encourages curiosity and broadens the horizons of students, equipping them for life at university.
The Union schedule is wide ranging and varied and has included visits from well-known speakers, as well as lesser known figures with an inspirational story to tell.