"My early childhood memories of being at primary school were great but things changed quite soon after starting high school. I was probably the smallest boy in Year 7 but was naturally good at athletics, so a group of bigger lads took exception to that and singled me out. It started with childish name-calling where they’d say I was weedy, but then as time went on the bullying got physical."
My early childhood memories of being at primary school were great but things changed quite soon after starting high school. I was probably the smallest boy in Year 7 but was naturally good at athletics, so a group of bigger lads took exception to that and singled me out. It started with childish name-calling where they’d say I was weedy, but then as time went on the bullying got physical.
At breaktime a group of four or five lads would set upon me, stamping on me and beating me black and blue. It was their favourite pastime terrorising me. The beatings got so bad I even ended up suffering a broken wrist and a fractured cheekbone. But instead of opening up to my parents and admitting what had happened, I covered it up saying I’d been injured playing sport.
I just couldn’t admit to my family that I was being bullied – I felt embarrassed and ashamed of what these lads were doing to me so I just kept it to myself, but I started forging notes to skip school and escape them. This went on for a while and my grades soon slipped as I was barely in class. I got just five per cent for one of my mock exams so you can imagine the telling off I got at home when my parents returned from parents evening. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of being bullied at school, skipping classes then getting in trouble at home as I couldn’t explain the real reason why my grades were so poor.
I lived in this constant nightmare for most of high school with verbal and physical bullying on a daily basis until one day I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was sick of the torment and embarrassment – the lads would take my uniform out of my bag during PE and urinate on my clothes. One boy said he’d smuggled acid out of chemistry class and threatened to throw it in my face. It was scary to think what they were capable of so I eventually told my parents all about it. My mum and dad were devastated and wished I’d spoken up sooner. They wasted no time in going to school to sort it and I thought everything would be ok. But as soon as the lads were back off suspension, the bullying just started again.
By this point I was in my final year and I knew I had to do something to try and get through this. I accepted the bullies would still continue to terrorise me – it was just beyond my control. But I looked at other things in my life that I could control, such as my grades. My mock exams had been a wakeup call and I knew I had to pull my socks up and work hard, instead of just giving in to the bullies. So I literally poured my heart and soul into my revision, determined to leave school with decent GCSEs.
I channelled my anger towards the bullies into my school work and revised every day for hours at a time cramming in all the work that I’d missed in class. These lads had ruined my high school days but I was determined they wouldn’t ruin my future too. Thankfully my hard work paid off and I left school with A stars, As and Bs.
The results gave me that much-needed drive to think that, no matter what bad times I was going through, I could focus my anger and negativity and channel it into a positive - pushing myself to achieve things beyond expectations. I have lived the rest of my life with that attitude and after receiving a law degree I passed the Bar exams at the top of my class and became a barrister aged 22.
"The bullying may have stopped by the time I started sixth form, but the memories of it still live with me. I feel like I have a hole in my life that I strive to fill with positive things like my work, my wife and children..."
The bullying may have stopped by the time I started sixth form, but the memories of it still live with me. I feel like I have a hole in my life that I strive to fill with positive things like my work, my wife and children and my passion for health and fitness. I’m a huge fan of Cross Fit and have trained so hard that I now compete at an elite level in the U.K and Europe. I applied to go on SAS: Who Dares Wins as I craved a new challenge that would push me to my limit. It was a fantastic experience and helped me to open up about my past in ways that I’d never done before. For most of my adult life I have tried to bury those memories but I was forced to face my demons on the show and that’s when Kidscape contacted me, asking me to support their work.
I think their workshops and advice to help young people affected by bullying is fantastic and since 2018 I have taken part in a number of fundraising challenges to raise money for Kidscape. I have climbed Mt. Snowden carrying a 40kg Barbell and run a Saharan Ultra-Marathon wearing a weighted vest to help fund their work and I’m keen to talk to youngsters who are being bullied. They need to know that bullying is not forever – there will eventually be a way out but they need to speak up and tell their teachers and parents what is happening to them.
My advice to these kids is don’t bottle it up like I did. Speak up and seek Kidscape’s help as they really are experts in teaching skills and confidence to deal with bullying.
It’s only natural that young people will feel angry about how they’re treated. But they can channel their anger into something positive that will benefit their lives instead of just letting the bullies win.
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