“James is my name, speaking is my game”

Leeds Trinity University saw the annual Journalism week take place, I attended three different speakers each from very different backgrounds all sharing helpful advice. However one of the speakers really stood out for me and that was James Tennant.

All I knew about James before I attended the talk was that he was a former student at Leeds Trinity University, I didn’t really know what to expect. I got to my seat and watched James confidently enter the lecture theatre. He was introduced by lecturer Nigel Green, what followed then was a clip from the ITV show This Time Next Year. The concept of the show is that the person that enters the show makes a pledge to turn their life around and make a change in a year. In that year they are followed by a camera crew and helped along the way. To my surprise James appeared on the show, initially when he introduced himself to show host Davina McCall I was shocked. James had a stammer, he really struggled to get the words out and speak to Davina. His pledge was to gain more control over his stammer and to defeat his fear of public speaking. In a year James wanted to stand up in front of over 300 students at his former high school and read out a speech he had written. Over the course of a year James attended countless therapy sessions with The Maguire Programme. The time came when James had to step up to the stand a read out his speech. The students were dead silent and a more confident James successfully delivered a phenomenal speech. Suffering for 21 years from his debilitating stammer this was certainly a triumph for James. With a huge grin on his face James met back up with Davina on the show a year later, this time round with tons more control over his stammer. Improving his control allowed him to overcome his fear of public speaking. He said that his stammer has improved so much that his friends and family joke that they preferred when his stammer was bad because they can’t get him to shut up now.

Photo courtesy of Elsie

James really put everything into perspective when he said ‘You wouldn’t ask a person with a broken leg to walk up stairs so why are you asking a stammerer to speak.

Personally I found his story so inspirational, he demonstrated that with determination and perseverance we will accomplish our goals. Despite his stammer James has achieved so much, graduating and achieving a 2:1 in Sports Journalism, Gaining more control over his stammer and having a career as a Social media Coordinator for Take That Ltd.

The 45 Minutes that I got to hear James’ story will stick with me for a very long time, his story has truly inspired me to better myself and to go get what I want out of life and not to give in.