Ladies’ football star’s inspiring speech to Solihull School pupils

Blues & England star returns to former school.

A former Solihull School student and current Birmingham City and England football player returned to her old school to deliver an inspiring speech to current pupils as part of an annual celebratory event.

Aoife Mannion, who attended Solihull School between 2012 and 2014, was the guest of honour at Speeches and Prize Giving, the school’s annual celebration of students’ achievements in Year 10 and above.

Aoife, aged 22, started her football career at Aston Villa while studying at Solihull, and has since gone on to represent her country at five different age groups up to under-23.

In her speech, Aoife spoke about her own experience at Solihull and how it has shaped her since leaving.

She encouraged the students to be courageous in all situations, using anecdotes from her time on the pitch, including her appearance in the 2017 FA Cup final for the Blues against Manchester City. She also encouraged pupils to participate in as many activities as possible and to take comfort in the support of others.

Aoife was previously guest of honour at the school’s annual Benchers’ Soiree earlier this summer, a celebration to mark the end of the prefect body’s year in office. Other special guests at the event were the family and friends of gifted former pupil Tsz Fok, who passed away while studying at university. This year is the tenth anniversary of his death, and his family attended the event to witness the presentation of one current and two new awards donated in his memory.

Henry Lee won the memorial prize for engineering, Matthew Bond the memorial prize for mathematics and Ellie Ajao the memorial prize for music performance.

Also speaking at the event, headmaster David EJJ Lloyd encouraged students to embody the school’s motto – Perserverantia – by seeing each of their troubles as a stepping stone to future achievement. Mr Lloyd said: “It was a memorable occasion and Aoife’s speech was heartfelt and inspiring.

“It faithfully reflected the best traditions of the school and its ethos of encouraging students to be ambitious and to make the most of their opportunities, while preparing them for adult life as happy, charitable, confident and intelligent people who understand the value of a strong moral compass and a global perspective.”