Olympian is a hit with pupils at school near Shrewsbury
Olympic hockey champion Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE was the guest of honour at Adcote School’s end of year Speech Day.
Kate, who captained the England and Great Britain field hockey teams for 13 years and led them to win top international medals, including Olympic gold and bronze, gave a speech to students, teachers and parents at the school, at Little Ness, near Shrewsbury,
The Speech Day celebrated the achievements of students and the school as a whole during the past academic year and included prize-givings and a speech by Headmistress Diane Browne in which she unveiled plans to introduce a new Performing Arts diploma to the Sixth Form in September 2020.
Kate was capped a record 375 times for her country. She led Team GB to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics and the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics - the first time that a Great Britain women’s hockey team had won Olympic gold.
Kate praised Adcote’s innovative CLEAR Learning programme, which is woven into every part of school life, to develop core values, skills and strengths in students that will help them succeed in life, such as confidence, leadership and resilience.
She told students that such values “were the reason why 16 of us got to stand on that podium at Rio” and how with hard work, resilience and self-belief they too could achieve their goals.
Kate revealed she had faced a long personal struggle to build her own confidence after being bullied at school. It was only after discovering hockey that she began to find her voice and gain confidence.
“I took to hockey straight away. It was just being part of a team, being part of a group with shared goals. Finding my confidence was a long journey,” she said.
It wasn’t until she was already captain, in her late twenties, and taking part in team sports psychology preparations for the 2012 Olympics that she found her true self-confidence.
And Kate’s resilience was famously tested when she suffered a broken jaw in the very first game of the London Olympics. Remarkably, she only missed two games and battled back after surgery to lead Team GB, ranked 7th or 8th in the world, to a bronze medal win.
Headmistress Mrs Browne said: “We were delighted and honoured to welcome Olympic gold medal winner Kate Richardson-Walsh to talk to our girls and present our prizes at Speech Day.
“She truly is an impressive person who told us about her own experiences of resilience, confidence and leadership. She was an inspiration for all who listened to her.”
In 2017 Kate was awarded an OBE for services to her sport. She retired from international hockey after the Rio Games. She still plays competitively and also works as a coach and an ambassador for the Women’s Sport Trust.