Sky’s Samantha goes back to school for Speech Day Tuesday 3 December 2013 Alumni News As a pupil at Leeds Girls’ High School (LGHS), Samantha Simmonds received school reports highlighting her lively debating skills and relentless questioning. Unaware of it at the time, Samantha was laying the foundations for a successful career in broadcast journalism, although, by her own admission, she ‘wasn’t exactly top of the class.’ However, as she told an audience at Leeds Town Hall last week, when it really mattered she did achieve and school gave her confidence, an expectation from life and a willingness to have a go. Sky News presenter Samantha was guest of honour at the Speech Day of her old school – now The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) following the merger of LGHS and Leeds Grammar School. Speaking to an audience of GSAL parents, staff and pupils, Samantha related her journey from classroom to newsroom, and spoke of her pride at returning to her home city for this occasion. Samantha said: “I’m very honoured to come back and being here tonight holds a special significance for me. My sister Sara and I are introducing a new prize this year, the Simmonds Prize for Sustained Effort – an award which recognises hard work and sheer persistence. Recognition of hard work from our family, our peers, our teachers or bosses matters whatever age you are and I hope in the years to come this prize will motivate you to strive to do your best even if the odds look stacked against you.” The first recipient of the Simmonds award was Polly-Anna Bury, selected because of her determination to succeed in her goal of studying dentistry, which she is now doing at the University of Sheffield. Samantha said: “My advice whatever career you are embarking on is to grab your opportunities, make your own luck and put yourself forward – guts and enthusiasm will get you through a lot. You have nothing to lose by trying and everything to lose by not.” Earlier in the day Samantha visited the school in its new site at Alwoodley Gates, and enjoyed a tour with the head boy and girl team, pictured with Samantha l-r Aneesah Kabba Kamara, Jack Harrison, Matthew Li and Kate Downie.