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OM, Simon Cartmell OBE, tells boys to follow their dreams at Speech Day

July 8th, 2017

Serial entrepreneur and Old Monmothian, Simon Cartmell OBE, encouraged boys to take risks, make their own luck and grasp the opportunities which arise during uncertain times.

The Haberdasher, who has 35 years of experience in the life-sciences industry, inspired pupils, governors, parents and staff at Monmouth School’s annual Prize-Giving and Speech Day on Saturday, July 8th.

With the second industrial revolution imminent, in Simon’s opinion, he believes schools must produce young people capable of creating new occupations to replace the 15 million jobs the UK is predicted to lose over 15 years.

Simon, who led spinal surgery biomaterials company ApaTech before its eventual sale for $330m in 2010, spoke of why parents choose to send their sons to Monmouth.

“Schools like this inculcate a set of values, values that help you make decisions in these times of uncertainty, shape you as a person, allow you to form a frame through which you interpret the world,” he told the boys.

“I think they send you to a school like this because they want you to experience opportunity.

“It exposes you to risk in a controlled manner. Life will expose you to risk and you have to learn how to make judgements.

“I also think you get educated in the process of evaluation – how do you critically evaluate the data to make a judgement?

“Here, they give you opportunities to understand and practise leadership.”

Simon described leadership as making decisions, being able to express why you made them and bringing people on board with you.

He added: “Life, in my view, is about momentum; standing still means you go backwards. You have to keep moving forwards.

“Be brave, there’s no place for standing back. Follow your dreams – start, learn, move forwards.”

Since 2010, Simon has divided his time between six medical device companies and contributed to several Government programmes to stimulate and develop the UK life-science industry.

“Today we have a choice,” he continued.

“Are you a mouse or are you a man, are you the lion or are you the prey? You have to decide where you’re going to place your bets, take risks and grasp opportunities. Uncertainty brings change, which brings opportunity. It’s our job to give you the best chance to seize those opportunities.

“At Monmouth School, you wear the lion proudly on your blazers. You can characterise lions in many ways – bravery, calmness, being the acknowledged leader. It has and will equip you to survive in that uncertain world. As my old maths teacher, Mr Phillips, would say ‘carpe diem’.”

Headmaster Dr Andrew Daniel congratulated pupils on a year of brilliant sporting, musical and academic achievements, including the school’s Young Enterprise team being named Best Company at the regional finals.

He also thanked the Friends of Monmouth School for their continued support.

Stunning musical performances of Robert Schumann’s The Happy Farmer, by Joe, and Game of Thrones, by Junior Winds, wowed the audience.

And Head Boy, Joe, delighted guests with his speech – The Foresight of Hindsight – and invited them to decide, as all historians must, whether they trusted him as a reliable source.

Joe talked about the invaluable lessons he’d learned, in hindsight, thanks to his experiences at Monmouth School.

He shared one amusing memory of Form III when he turned up in school uniform, having forgotten it was mufti day.

“It genuinely was a character-building experience,” he said.

“I swaggered around feeling edgy and hipster to be the only one in uniform. It built my own confidence and made me feel lucky to be at a school where I could get away with forgetting mufti without the banter going too far.”

Joe credited his involvement with drama and sports for boosting his confidence and teaching him the importance of teamwork.

He also thanked his deputies, Rhys and Dan, for their unwavering support and good humour throughout the year.

“Being Head Boy has helped me learn how to connect with people, teachers and parents included, across school life,” he said.

“I’m simply a source,” he said. “With a source you must try and identify the key arguments; what are the central points?

“Judgement, organisation, friendship, teamwork and responsibility are the key focal points of my speech. What I have given you are not just the cold, hard facts, but the emotions that come with them.

“Having looked back, I now look forward. Monmouth has given me endless opportunities. I would like to leave you with a quote I found from John Dewey (1859 – 1952), who said: “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”

Prizes were handed out to boys and two girls from HMSG for a variety of outstanding achievements in academics, art, sport and music. Lovely speeches were also made by Joff Hamilton, Master of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, and Audley Twiston-Davies, Chairman of Governors.

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