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BBC filmmaker and Old Girl inspires at Speech Day

July 1st, 2016

A successful BBC documentary maker and radio producer returned to her old school to give an inspirational speech about friendship and the importance of being ambitious.

Emily Hughes was back at Inglefield House on Friday as guest speaker at this year’s Speech Day and Prize-Giving event.

As well as handing out prizes to pupils in Years 3 to 6 for an array of outstanding achievements, the mother-of-two talked to girls, their parents, staff and governors about how she came to work for the BBC.

She said: “I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have embarked on this career had I not gone to Monmouth and had the wonderful foundations laid there. The School gave me lasting friendships that have stood the test of time, and it taught me to be ambitious and to aim high, not in an elbows-out sort of way. Aim for the top and if you work really hard you will get there.”

Emily, who now produces Farming Today on Radio 4, has spent a few days recently teaching some of the Inglefield girls how to make documentaries.

She added: “The first day I came to Inglefield, I was met by six girls up to their elbows in lamb entrails. In my day that would not have happened. We didn’t have all this fun, interactive stuff that you do. When I first started going to school at Monmouth and saw this enormous building I was terrified.

“But luckily I met my best friend Nicola in that first week and we’re still best friends to this day. We bonded over our love of animals and drove our teachers to distraction pretending to be ponies. Today, we’re both successful journalists in our own right.

“Nicola went to a different senior school and I moved up to HMSG so we started a correspondence relationship and carried it on until we were in our 20s. We’d send each other peppermints and apple cores for our rabbits. I was recently the bridesmaid at her wedding and led her dog down the aisle!”

Emily told Speech Day guests that Inglefield filled her with ambition and taught her to aim high despite fear of failure. After studying history at Edinburgh University, she found herself covering press conferences in the White House after landing a media internship in Washington DC.

Grit and determination paid off on her return to the UK when she landed a job as a runner and progressed to researcher and then to producer, working with Cherie Blair on a programme about living at Number 10 Downing Street.

“Sometimes I had to pinch myself,” Emily said.

“I thought ‘I’ve come from Monmouth to Number 10 Downing Street, I can’t believe this is me’. It was all great, every single job was fascinating. But the boys were getting promoted quicker than the girls because they were more confident to use technology – they all said ‘yes I can use a camera’ and off they’d go.

“Girls weren’t as foolhardy. So I learned how to shoot and I absolutely loved it. Then I convinced people I was good enough to film documentaries myself and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve made documentaries about British women converting to Islam, about girls who are in love with Prince Harry and about life after the terrible flood in Somerset.”

The producer left the girls with a little advice, saying: “Cherish the friendships you are making here and they will last for the rest of your lives.

“You’re so lucky to be here in this school with teachers who are so devoted to you. Aim high, nothing is beyond you and, most of all, don’t let the boys beat you.”

The event was made even more special by beautiful musical performances from the pupils and lovely speeches from Mrs Caroline Pascoe, Headmistress of HMSG, and Mrs Sharon Clayton, Governor for Inglefield House.

Mrs Hilary Philips, Headmistress of Inglefield, also took the opportunity to reveal plans for a marvellous red double-decker bus, which will be home to the School’s brand new library.

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