Longford Trust talk: supporter of the charity, Michael Palin, visits Ruislip High

The school was delighted to welcome Michael Palin on Friday 12th May, well known for his work as a comedian, actor, writer and television presenter. 

Michael is a supporter of the Longford Trust, which is a charity that supports ex-offenders, who are referred to as Longford scholars, to rebuild their lives through education. Michael was accompanied by other staff from the charity, including one of its founders Peter Stanford and a Longford scholar. The group gave a thought-provoking presentation to Year 10, 12 and 13 students and Year 9 ambassadors.

Students heard that the Longford Trust awards about twenty scholarships a year to ex-offenders to help them go to university. Peter said, “We help people get on with their lives through the power of education.” Students also heard from Selina, who has been supported by the charity. She explained how she had been in prison for two years for a fraud offence but now is studying health care at university. 

Afterwards, Michael took part in a Q&A session with A-level Geography students from Ruislip High and other neighbouring schools, including Vyners, Bishopshalt and Queensmead. In the smaller venue of the drama studio, he enthusiastically answered questions on topics including his travels in Brazil and the Himalayas, as well as meeting the Dalai Lama. He said to much amusement, “Having spent so much time travelling I’ve got really good at it. I now know how many loo rolls to take!” Mr Palin explained he didn’t start travelling extensively until he was aged about 45. “It’s never too late to start!” he said. 

The students really enjoyed hearing from such a high-profile visitor. Michael also posed outside the Geography Department alongside a famous quote from his days as president of the Royal Geographical Society.

Quotes

“Very welcoming school. The students were well behaved and listened attentively. I hope they will take what they heard on board and change their perceptions of ex-offenders.”  Selina, Longford scholar 

“It was a great pleasure to listen to someone’s experience in prison and how difficult it actually is to start a fresh, new life without anybody judging you.”  Nicole, 10C 

“I was inspired about how Selena has never given up.” Charlotte, 10D 

“I thought it was eye opening and my opinion on people in prison and ex-convicts has changed.” Mark, 10B 

“It was very interesting to hear what Michael said about his life experiences travelling to 98 countries. He gave great tips and life lessons.” Heather, Year 12 

“Michael Palin was an absolute inspiration, having loved geography for so long. Seeing someone who has visited 98 countries, a British cultural icon, was wonderful. His answers to the questions where informative and makes me want to travel.” Matthew, Year 13