Many of us will have had a certain teacher who encouraged and inspired us, or opened up opportunities for us.  The best teachers are those who can create a learning environment in which their pupils are happy, are challenged, are motivated and thrive.

One Crowborough teenager, who has found fame on an international sporting stage, most definitely has a teacher to thank for the road she is travelling on and the success she is achieving.

Inspired by her teacher

Beacon Academy sixth former, Sydney Boyd, competes for England at curling but probably would not have even taken up the sport had it not been for the encouragement of her teacher, Owen Rees.

Sydney was the youngest player to compete in the Adult 2018 World Mixed Curling Championships in Canada last autumn, and then was the skip for the England girls’ team at the World Junior Curling Championships in Finland last month.

Her curling career began at Beacon Academy through the school’s thriving curling club, which was founded in 2013 by Humanities teacher, Owen Rees.

International stage

Sydney told Your East Sussex: “I started curling in Year 8 after Mr Rees gave an assembly on the Beacon Curling Club. I had seen it the year before in the Winter Olympics and I wanted to give it a try. I loved it straight away. Mr Rees has been brilliant at coaching and encouraging me but I never dreamed I would be travelling around the world competing at international level. It has been fantastic.”

Sydney Boyd, Beacon Academy student and international curler.

Curling has proved to be very popular at Beacon and the school has mixed teams that regularly compete against each other and against other schools. The teams have the advantage of being close to what, until recently, was England’s only curling rink, Fenton’s Rink, just outside Tunbridge Wells.

Mr Rees, when he’s not teaching humanities and encouraging the Beacon curlers, helps with coaching the England junior teams. He’s also president of the local curling club. He is modest about the role he has played in Sydney’s success, but delighted at what she has achieved.

Immensely proud

“I’m immensely proud of Sydney and all that she has achieved; she is competing with the best players in the world. She has a natural talent for the sport and has shown huge amounts of dedication and commitment to be as good as she is. I may have played a role in getting her into the sport and coaching her, but it’s her talent and attitude that has got her where she is. The sky truly is the limit for her.”

Sydney competing at the World Championship. © WCF / Alina Pavlyuchik

And Sydney is determined to go further. She said: “Curling is a really inclusive sport, accessible to everyone, which makes it the community that is it. I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities I’ve have had within the sport and look forward to competing more in the future.”

If you have what it takes to inspire young people, you might want to consider teaching as your next career move.  There are schools across East Sussex which are looking for talented individuals who can make a difference to young lives.  If you already have a degree, you could train to teach in less than a year while receiving a salary or a bursary.  Find out more now on our website Find Your Spark – teacher recruitment.

Main image: © WCF / Alina Pavlyuchik