Disrupting the Pattern 2023
Dr Laurence Pallant, class of 2012
Keynote Speech from 2022 Reception for Supporters of the Trinity Bursary Fund
It’s great to be with you tonight. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Laurence, I graduated from Trinity in 2012, I’m now 28 and I spend the majority of my days now working in the NHS making my way towards being a paediatric consultant in Bristol. That means one thing, principally, and that it that my target audience is much younger than you are - so I hope not to patronise you, I have made an effort to use my big words tonight. And I think the biggest word that I want us to think about this evening, is the word OPPORTUNITY.
It is a particular privilege to speak to you tonight, because it is in large part due to your generosity, and the generosity of those who have given to the Trinity bursary scheme before you, that I have been afforded the opportunities, to grow in confidence, character and capability, to speak to you today.
This evening I want to tell you a bit about my story, I want to thank you for everything you are doing for pupils at Trinity today, and encourage you from the point of view of someone who knows the benefits a Trinity bursary can bring.
As a child of two Salvation Army officers, Christian ministers for those who do not know the Salvation Army, I grew up a family that was rich in many ways, just not monetarily. We were moved around a lot by the church - I was born in Ipswich on the east coast of the UK, we moved to Zambia where spent much of my childhood growing up on a rural mission hospital, before settling down in West Wickham shortly before I was due to go into secondary school.
Trinity was never really on the cards, we just weren’t in a position for that to be financially viable. It was only by chance that we happened to be driving past Trinity on the Open Day that my mum persuaded my dad that it would be fun to see how the other half lived.
So we went in, and were immediately take in by the warmth and character and ethos that saturates a Trinity Open Day. The big band was playing, the languages department was full of food and drink, the boys and the staff were friendly and enthusiastic. And after an incredible few hours looking around, at the end of the day, Chris Tarrant, the headmaster at the time, spoke about the Trinity bursary scheme, and he encouraged those, like my mother, who thought that these might be out of reach, that help could be made available.
The bursary that allowed me to go to Trinity inarguably changed the course of my life. It has been of those rare blessings that continues to keep giving.
The greatest blessing I have received no doubt has been my parents and the stability, love and faith, that they have brought me up in. They have given me, if you like, a map of the world that I may chart a course through.
But in terms of how far I am able to go on that course, in terms of what developed my potential and equipped me for the world. Nothing has given me more opportunities than Trinity.
My dad would remind me throughout my teenage years of the investment that others had made in me. He would remind me of the children I grew up with on the mission hospital, many of whom are still living their lives in rural Zambia, and encourage me to make the most of the possibilities available to me.
When I left Trinity, I could look back on a whole host of those opportunities: I hadn’t just learnt to sing in the choir, but I learned professionalism and musicality. I performed at the Royal Opera House. I didn’t just learn to play trumpet in the big band, we toured Dubai playing jazz in the swanky hotel concert venues and you learned how to deal with pressure and the focus required for high level performance.
I didn’t just learn to speak Spanish, and Mandarin. I learned how to cope with my limitations. Because I was, and remain terrible, at speaking Spanish and Mandarin.
I developed an enthusiasm, but sadly not a talent, for rugby and cricket.
In my final year, I was elected school captain, I gained the confidence to speak publicly, I learned that leadership was hard work. I received 4 A*s at A Level which allowed me to take up a place at Imperial to study medicine - which is where I have met my wonderful wife Marjay, with whom I live now in Taunton in the South West.
In short, Trinity gave me much more than an education. The investment made in me, gave me access to a whole world of possibilities - the opportunity to make the most of any potential that I had.
That is the gift that you have given me.
I’ll finish with one last thing. I think the world is wrestling at the moment, and has been for a while, with the idea of privilege. To butcher and paraphrase Winston Churchill: some are born into privilege, some achieve privilege, some have privilege thrust upon them - and due to your kind generosity, you have shoved me into that third category.
I have found conversations about privilege are difficult to have. We are encouraged to be resentful to those who have privileges, and feel guilty to the extent we are privileged. Neither of which are particularly constructive or encouraging.
So let me encourage you this evening, not to give into that kind of thinking. But I encourage you, as I was encouraged, to make the most of the privileges and opportunities you have, in order that you might provide those same opportunities for others in future.