Former Royal Marine praises Hawthornes teacher who inspired a love of poetry
I was lucky enough to chat to ex- Royal Marine and world record-breaking athlete, Andy Grant, following his talk at The Hawthorne’s presentation evening last month.
Andy had been reminiscing with his former English teacher Shirley Mullany who taught him at St Wilfrid’s and is now Director of English at The Hawthorne’s. He told me how she had inspired him with the love of poetry that helped him come to terms with life-changing injuries.
Andy suffered multiple injuries after stepping on a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and eventually had a leg amputated.
“She made me fall in love with English. I got my best GCSEs in English – two Bs. I wrote poetry and stuff after I got injured. I trusted her enough to be myself and express myself,” said Andy, who this summer, broke the world record for running a 10k with one leg and won two gold medals at the Invictus Games.
“I just remember opening up and having the confidence to be truthful to myself and knowing that I would get good feedback.
“I wrote a lot of poetry and that helped with my rehab. Just being able to put down on paper what I had been through and getting those thoughts out there which really helped with my mental state,” added Andy who lives in Walton.
“Andy was a keen footballer who was popular with the lads and could be a bit of a joker, but he had a deep love of language. He used to come back on his own after class and say ‘Can you read that poem or can you read that story and let me know what you think?’” said Mrs Mullany. I loved reading his work because he was always a very open and honest person. That honesty shines through his motivational and powerful presentations today.
“All the teachers who worked with Andy are extremely proud of him; not because of the bad things that have happened to him. It’s because of what he’s done with that. He’s taken what life has thrown at him and turned it into a positive. He inspires people – that’s why we love him.”