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Juniors enjoy inspirational talk from Baroness Floella Benjamin

Year Six pupils with Floella Benjamin books

Junior School children in Years One to Six enjoyed taking part in a special Macmillan Children’s Books event which saw Baroness Floella Benjamin deliver an outstanding and inspiring talk.

As part of the publisher’s ‘Virtually Together Festival’, Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham spoke to schools from across the country over Zoom to celebrate the publication of both her picture book ‘Coming to England: An Inspiring True Story About the Windrush Generation’ (suitable for ages 5-7) and the 25th anniversary edition of her ever-popular memoir ‘Coming to England’ (suitable for ages 8-11).

Pupils intently listened to her talking about her journey from the Caribbean, aged 10, to begin a new life in London in the 1960s with her family. They learnt of the adverse circumstances that she encountered and how she learnt to overcome them with her mind and embracing education as a passport to a better future. As the Baroness shared with the pupils, her Mum said: “Ain’t no stopping you; everything’s achievable.”

The actress, writer and campaigner also mentioned the three C’s that she holds dear and sees as a good way to live life by: ‘Consideration’, ‘Contentment’ and ‘Confidence’ – which are all wrapped up with a fourth C – ‘Courage’.

The talk ended with the Baroness singing an excerpt from Charlie Chapman’s song ‘Smile’ to the children and the attendees certainly did smile after such a wonderful talk!

Following the talk there was a question and answer session. Questions were submitted in advance of the event and the children were delighted when Year Five pupil Poppy S’s question was selected. She asked: “What do your siblings do?” and pupils were impressed by the fantastic professions her siblings have enjoyed.

In Year One and Two classrooms, Floella’s life story prompted discussions about moving home and making new friends. The pupils realised how courage and determination can overcome adversity and to always follow your dreams.

Asked about the wonderful event, Year Six pupil Florence B said: “I thought the talk was inspirational as she was talking about the problems she had to face as a black girl at that time and how she got through it and now has a really successful life!”

Anna B added: “Floella’s talk made me realise the importance of keeping a positive mindset and that if you smile you can make yourself and somebody else very happy. I also liked how she never gave up and always knew that she was special because she had the love of her mother.”

Parisa S learned “not to spend your life being unkind to yourself” and Mehul V “felt inspired by her advice to just smile, even when you are feeling sad or worried.”

Year Six teacher Miss Helen Baker added: “I thought it was a fantastic thing to be part of and I have personally taken a huge amount away from listening to her.”

Pupils are keen to find out more about the Windrush Monument in the future, a cause that the Baroness is involved with as part of her role as Chair of the Windrush Generation Committee.

Thank you to Simply Books in Bramhall for the invitation to take part in such a special event.