Paul delivered the most entertaining, engaging, thought provoking and inspiring assembly I have ever witnessed in 18 years of teaching.
Paul has an incredible story to tell, and I truly believe every school should, and needs to, hear it first hand.
Fighting hard against the odds, he describes, with such humour, his relationship with his mum, his desire to make it as a footballer and his school life. Time is given in the presentation to reflect upon the truly abhorrent prejudice he suffered at the hands of his own fans, allowing the children to really empathise with Paul's 'fight'.
Paul gives time for questions and answers at the end, and answers these with such honesty.
So many messages from his assembly tie in with school values: respect and how to deal with prejudice, dreams, aspirations, working hard at school and having 'fall back plans'.
'A truly brilliant story teller with such an amazing and powerful message,' Gemma Harris Deputy Headteacher.
'A fantastic assembly with all the pupils so hooked,' Jo Coleman Assistant Headteacher.
Paul is a real inspiration. Having so much time for our pupils, teaching staff and parents and so humble, honest and approachable he is a wonderful role model.
It is often quoted that 'one should not meet their heroes' - Paul, however, disapproves this theory unquestionably. Thirty five years ago my mum was subjected to having glass bottles thrown at her, supporting Paul, and on Friday it was genuinely moving to see them meet.
In addition to this, we were delighted and privileged to have mentoring sessions, run by Paul's cousin and former professional footballer Lee. Disengaged pupils, with a love of football, were asked to bring their best piece of work and were asked to talk through it and then given a special footballing session. The immediate impact this had was remarkable. These pupils returned to class, so proud, their self esteem and self confidence given a huge boost. All of the class teachers could not believe that such a change could happen so quickly.
We are so incredibly grateful for the visit, and the buzz the Canoville boys created was palpable. We very much look forward asking Paul and Lee to return to allow our pupils to live their dreams.