Principal's Weekly Address – Celebrating the Underdog - Framlingham College

Principal, Louise North, drew on last weekend’s FA Cup upset, as League Two Crawley Town beat Premier League side Leeds United, for her weekly address to pupils. Her speech centred around the concept of the underdog as well as success through adversity – a theme which is very much on everyone’s minds at this time.

Louise was quick to point out that her interest in the FA Cup does not lie solely in the football itself but rather the extraordinary achievement of lower league teams overcoming the odds to knock out their opponents. She said to pupils: “You may be able to think of situations where you have been the underdog and you have failed to overcome the obstacles. I hope there are also some of you listening who have had the opposite experience.

“So how does it happen?

“I think it’s a combination of fearlessness, luck, circumstance and relentless persistence. This combined with a momentum and self-belief that starts small and grows with every good pass, every right answer, every positive reaction leads to great things. The underdog has lived through some hard knocks, has realised they need to pick themselves up, learn from mistakes and start all over again. That creates resilience. And added to this, the crowd is always on your side.

“What I want to know is why. Why does everyone want the underdog to win?

“Why is it that we want Rocky Balboa to beat Apollo Creed?

“Why is it that Roald Dahl so often made his protagonists the underdog?

“It’s not always because everyone else is horrible, it’s simply that it is human nature to support the weakest not the strongest, the downtrodden not the domineering, the wannabee rather than the queen bee, the trier rather than the person who finds things easy.

“We root for the underdog because we can relate to them. More of us know how it feels to be at the back of the pack rather than how it feels at the front. We relate to the struggle, the lack of hope, the seemingly impossible odds because we too have probably been the underdog ourselves at some point in our lives. Whether we have vanquished or not, is another matter. We are looking for the happy ending, the hard-fought result, where against all the odds, something good has happened. We all find more joy in unexpected successes and that is exactly what the underdog brings.“And that is what is so heart-warming about the story of Crawley vs Leeds. The underdog doesn’t just win in our dreams, on the screen, or in our fairy tales, they really do win in real life.”

Dr Noble – ‘When you look back, the hardest things in life are usually the best things’

Following a similar theme to Mrs North’s weekly address, Alex Boyd-Williams had organised a series of inspirational talks with notable speakers about how they personally overcame adversity. Dr Ruth Noble, a science teacher here at Framlingham College, has delivered a talk as part of the Sixth Form assembly on overcoming adversity in her own life. Today, Dr Noble is an award-winning STEM teacher, having developed a successful career as an army dentist before going on to manage Oxford Heart Centre and medical facilities at Adenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge. But things did not always come so easily for her. She said: “When I was a pupil, I bombed my A Level Physics because I didn’t work hard enough and only just scraped into Dental School.”

“I was called in to see the Dean of the University on the first day of my course, which terrified me. He told me that, due to my poor grade, if I did not get one of the prizes at the end of the first year, he would kick me out. And he meant it.

“There were only three prizes at the end of year one exams, which were the same as the medical students, so it meant that I was going to have to win one prize from around 100 students. It was a huge wake-up call which was the biggest favour anyone did to me in my life as I had rather sailed through up until that point without ever having to do any work.

“I qualified five years later so you know I won a prize – in fact I won two of the three prizes. From then on, I realised that the things that are hard in life, when you look back, are usually what you will consider to be the best thing you ever did.”

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