Inspiring young leaders at Bedford’s first 6th form leadership conference

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Jamie Bridge
Jamie Bridge was a student at BMS and Mark Rutherford and is the keynote speaker at the event

In an exciting first for the town, a group of ambitious students from four Bedford schools have joined forces to create Bedford’s first ever leadership conference for sixth form students supported by The Harpur Trust.

The students from Bedford School, Bedford Modern School, Bedford Girls’ School and Mark Rutherford School, along with their teachers and staff from The Harpur Trust and UpRising (a national youth leadership organisation), have been working together over the past six months to create the exciting programme.

The conference, which is being hosted by Bedford School, was the brainchild of Simon Everitt, a teacher at the school.

It is set to take place on 2 October at Bedford School, and the student organisers hope to welcome delegates from every school in Bedford thanks to funding from the Harpur Trust and its three senior schools: Bedford School, Bedford Girls’ School and Bedford Modern.

The Charity’s Chief Executive David Steadman said “As a charity we are always looking for ways to support education in Bedford in collaboration with local schools, and to create opportunities for Bedford’s young people whatever their background.

“Ready2Lead? is particularly exciting because it enables teachers and young people to work together on a project which will help young people of all backgrounds to develop the knowledge and skills they need to lead others.”

Simon Everitt said, “The vision for Ready2Lead? is that it will add to the fantastic opportunities already provided in the town and become a hub for inspirational collaboration between our local schools, charities and businesses.

“It has already been both exciting and humbling to see this happening whilst planning for this year’s conference.

“With most of the Borough’s Sixth Forms sending delegates on 2nd October, there are huge possibilities for learning from one another and developing a fantastic self-leadership provision for all our young people.”

Together, the working party have put together a dynamic programme which includes a mixture of seminars and workshops, some being delivered by the team themselves (including one student-led session Ready2StepUp).

Keynote speaker will be Jamie Bridge (pictured above), who himself attended both Bedford Modern School and Mark Rutherford School.

Jamie is currently Chief Operating Officer at the International Drug Policy Consortium.  He has been working in the area of drug treatment and drug policies throughout his professional career and has become a leading figure in the global campaign to change the way drug users are treated by the law.

In his presentation, Jamie will reflect what it means to be a “leader”, as well as discussing the benefits of working for a social cause. In his address he is expected to say that “Being a leader doesn’t just mean being the head of an organisation, but being a credible advocate for those without a voice”.

The conference line up also includes Richard Lindley a former pupil of Bedford School. He has been a television broadcaster for over 30 years for both BBC Panorama and ITN News.

Now at 83 years old, Richard has dementia – alzheimers – but he still enjoys talking with his friends and has established his podcast Richard and Friends (on Spotify and iTunes) which was recently recommended in The Sunday Times

Carol Stone
Carole Stone

His wife Carole Stone is the former producer of BBC Radio 4’s flagship discussion programme Any Questions?  and has written books on the art of networking as well as making regular appearances on television.  Together, they have set up The Carole Stone Foundation – to encourage people to meet, exchange ideas and build friendships to make for a fairer society.

Bedford School student Henry Poppleton who has been involved in the project from the beginning and will be a Student Ambassador on the day, said, “I have really enjoyed being able to have an impact on how this conference is to be run; being able to contribute my ideas to discussions and congratulate others on theirs.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how successful it is and how it is received by the students themselves.

“I’m most looking forward to the Ready2StepUp session, led by the student organisers involved in the planning of the conference.

“I think it is key for young adults to learn the essential leadership skills as it will aid them in later life and hopefully open numerous doors. I also hope it will help them to inspire the next generation of leaders.”