On Wednesday 20th June 2012, The Priory Witham Academy welcomed the trustees of the Jon Egging Trust, the pilots of the Red Arrows and other members of the RAF, in order to celebrate the achievements of eight of the school's pupils. The students have been working with the Jon Egging Trust for the past three months, engaging in teambuilding exercises at RAF Scampton, RAF Cranwell and RAF Waddington in order to help build their self-esteem and confidence.
Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging died tragically on the 20th August 2011 while completing a display at the Bournemouth Air Festival. The Jon Egging Trust has been created by his wife, Dr Emma Egging, his mother, Dawn Egging, childhood friend, James Godley and Red Arrows Pilot Ben Plank. The purpose of the Trust is to embrace Jon's desire to inspire young people to pursue their interests and to work together to achieve brilliance.
"When Jon died last year," says Dr Emma Egging, "I felt like the best thing to do in his memory would be to take that way of living forward and to set up a trust that really did help connect young people and do exciting and fun things that had the potential to really help young people achieve."
The eight pupils from the Witham Academy certainly do seem to have achieved. They managed not only to complete all of the activities throughout the programme, including high assault course training and typical military teamwork exercises, but they also presented their thoughts on their experiences to a large group of strangers, something that Assistant Head John Wiles says is extraordinary.
"The first activity <in the scheme> was a group activity and none of them would stand up," he says, "but we've worked and worked and worked and now, as you've seen today, they've stood up in front of seventy people. What they've done is just brilliant."
The students themselves also seem delighted with their progress.
"We've gained teamwork," says Naomi, a Year Eight involved with the scheme. "We've been going to different people and saying stuff we wouldn't have said to anybody else before."
With such glowing reception and unprecedented success, it is hard to believe the scheme is only in its infancy. This scheme, involving the eight students from the Priory Witham Academy, is merely the prototype and, with hopes to expand nationwide, there is a great deal more to come from the Jon Egging Trust.
"The pilot scheme was obviously very successful," says Flight Lieutenant Ben Plank, colleague and friend to Jon, "so there are plans already afoot to run this again next year with the school and the Red Arrows. There are also now plans to branch out using other schools and other bases, not just in the local area but nationwide. It's certainly spreading across the country which is fantastic."
It becomes clear at times like this exactly how important it is to pay attention to students at this age, not just in terms of their academic achievements, but also in terms of their confidence. Despite being founded in tragic circumstances, the atmosphere at the ceremony was warm and optimistic, centred around the futures of eight obviously bright young pupils. Jon Egging's legacy, of inspiring and achieving, will live on through his Trust and no doubt change the lives of many more of the nation's students
By Ellen Lavelle - Senior YJA Reporter
Priory Academy LSST
To find our more about the Jon Egging Trust click here