Dream Big

We encourage our students, and our staff, to ‘Dream Big’. Here we have collected some inspiring stories of huge ambitions achieved – sometimes against the odds. If you are a student or an alumni and have a story to add, please email it to nfurneaux@framinghamearl.net.


Di Swanepoel: Ironman Triathlon = 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle, then 26.2 mile run, and all to be completed in under 17 hours.

Who would think that was a good idea?

2011 saw me your average 40-something - occasional aerobics class, bit of a swim on holiday. Then I was persuaded to join a team triathlon to swim 1 mile in Whitlingham Broad. As a swimmer in my teens this seemed feasible, but I was awful, swam poorly in the lake, and felt as if I had let us all down. So not one to be beaten, looked a bit more into this triathlon lark and before you knew it - hooked. Starting off with short sprint races in 2012, slowly building to longer Olympic distances. Then word got around about Ironman Sweden in 2014, I just got pulled along with the crowd, before I knew it that “enter” button on the laptop was pressed and I was committed. A year of anticipation, 6 months build-up of training and we were off, and 13 hours 05 later I was finished. Ironman Barcelona followed in 2015 (11 hours 50), with plans to celebrate my next noteworthy birthday in 2018 with Ironman Copenhagen.

Why? Why not?


A Trip of a Lifetime by Mrs Fowler

When I was younger, I knew that I wanted to do two things when I was older: travel the world and become a teacher.  I’m so incredibly lucky to have done both of these things!  The other thing I genuinely dreamt of doing was helping others in whatever small way I could – I think this is partly why I wanted to become a teacher… helping others to learn new skills and achieve their own success is pretty special.

When I was in Year 6 of primary school (a long time ago) in the Scottish borders where I grew up, I dreamt big when I saw a competition on a new kids’ show hosted by some guy called Andy Peters.  The prize was incredible – an all expenses paid 2 week trip to Los Angeles, USA and being part of the United Nations World Children’s Congress.  The whole thing was set up by none other than global megastar Michael Jackson himself.  A – MA –ZING.  I set my sights high.

All you had to do was to design a poster which portrayed world problems from a children’s perspective.  CBBC had literally hundreds of thousands of entries.  Some of the art work was stunning – out of this world.  The closing date was just before Christmas and I was definitely no artist.  I had to get my creative hat on!  I decided to keep it simple; I drew two islands.  On one of the islands there was poverty, on the other, ridiculous wealth.  In the middle I made a moving tab, on which I drew three ships.  When you pulled the tab the words on the side of the ships changed as they faced the other way – I called it “I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In”.  It was simple but effective at getting the message across: stop exploiting the poor.

Turns out, I won!!!

A young person from almost every country in the world was chosen as a representative for the children’s congress.  I was Scotland’s!  I was whisked down to London 1st class to attend TV and radio interviews, it all very exciting for a 12 year old girl from a tiny Scottish village!

The trip itself was just the most amazing experience.  It’s actually really difficult to put into words how special it was.  We flew to L.A, and stayed in an exclusive hotel in Beverly Hills for two weeks.  Each day was filled with different activities – A tour of Hollywood, Universal Studios, chilling out on Santa Monica Boulevard, having lunch with famous actors and directors to name a few.  We then spent three of the days at Michael Jackson’s ranch; ‘Neverland Valley’.  Yes – I have hugged M.J himself.  He taught us how to ‘moonwalk’, I played on his grand piano, met Bubbles, BBQ’d on his patio, rode on the Ferris wheel in his garden and toured his estate on his private railway track.  He was married to Lisa Marie Presley at the time and meeting her was quite cool too!  We wrote a children’s charter to put to the UN, which was such a privilege to be part of.  Michael Jackson spent so much time and energy listening to what we had to say.  He talked to us about the issues which face children in each of our countries – and at times it got pretty emotional!  I’ll never forget the boy from Japan who began crying when he explained the pressure him and his friends were under to do well at school and the awful things which they’d go through if they didn’t succeed in education.  It made me realise just how lucky we are, and how different our world can be.

Some kids at school took joy in bullying me for dreaming big and for winning.  I’ll never forget that either.  But their hurtful words are drowned out by the amazing memories of my experience and by the positive people I had the pleasure of sharing that trip of a lifetime with in the glitz and glamour of LA LA Land.  I haven’t stopped dreaming – neither should you!


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