AN INSPIRATIONAL soldier and survivor headlined the final ever ION Leadership graduation last night (Thursday).
Welsh Army veteran Simon Weston CBE was among the special guests at Bangor Business School in celebration of the leadership programme’s final cohort.
More than 440 business managers and owners from over 250 organisations have completed the programme since 2016 – including 64 this week – and he was among those to congratulate them on achieving the accolade.
Simon’s story is one of triumph over adversity – having been left with serious burns to 46% of his body following an air attack during the Falklands War in 1982 – and turning negatives into positives to become a success.
Speaking to graduates via video link, he said: “I would like to congratulate you all, it’s an amazing achievement.
“I remember when I first got injured all those years ago, being written off by the man who was supposed to help me find a new way forward; I remember how bereft I felt, then I discovered I had to invest in myself, which is what you have all done.
“I was sitting on my hospital bed and wondering what the future held, I couldn’t see where it might lie but thought that all I could do was try to make a difference, to make a positive contribution to my life and to the lives of those around me.”
He added: “All you have to do is find your relevance in life, and you are on that positive path through education and investment in yourself. Anything is possible, don’t stop, don’t give up, don’t ever let anyone shatter your dreams.
“I wasn’t going to be defined by being blown up, being injured, being disabled, I decided I would be defined by what I did about it.
“Keep striving for the future because it’s yours – it hasn’t been written for you yet.”
On the night, 44 delegates graduated from the ILM Level 3 New Leaders programme, while 20 celebrated completing the ILM Level 5 Leading Growth programme.
In attendance were Professor Bruce Vanstone, Head of Bangor Business School. Dr Annette Crowley-Luke, Managing Director of Siemens-Healthineers, Dr Rachel Morris, QC Support Manager at Siemens-Healthineers, and Dafydd Hardy, Chair and Trustee at St.David’s Hospice.
A celebratory film was also shown, with messages of congratulations and plaudits from Professor Edmund Burke, Vice Chancellor of Bangor University, Ynys Mon MP Virginia Crosbie, and Rhun ap Iorweth, Member of the Senedd (MS) for Ynys Mon.
Nicola Sturrs, Business Development Manager for ION Leadership, thanked everyone for their support of the programme over the last seven years.
“It has been a real privilege to work with so many amazing companies across North West Wales,” said Nicola.
“Those who enrolled on the ION Leadership programme and our other courses understand the importance of upskilling their staff, as well as the benefits that networking and professional development can bring.”
Lorraine Hopkins, Head of Leading Growth Programmes, added: “The impact on the economy, on strategy and in bringing people together has been immeasurable – we can’t thank you enough, and are so proud of those graduating tonight, and the many alumni who have gone on to even bigger and better things after taking part.”
For the latest news and information from Bangor Business School, visit www.bangor.ac.uk/bbs.