Tollbar Academy award winners at their Annual Presentation Evening with Stuart Pearce MBE (centre), Caroline Yates, Tollbar Academy Principal, and Philip Bond, Chair of Tollbar MAT, on stage at Grimsby Auditorium.
Former England footballer and Under-21 Manager, Stuart Pearce, on stage at Grimsby Auditorium for Tollbar Academy's Presentation Evening.
'Don't be defensive' are probably not the words you would expect to hear from a footballer who was capped 78 times as a defender for England.
Yet Stuart Pearce was offering advice to students at Tollbar Academy's Annual Presentation Evening, and he qualified his remarks by adding: "Take criticism as a fantastic learning opportunity. If someone tells you what you just did was perfect then they are not doing their job properly. The biggest compliment they can pay you is that you need to continue to improve."
This from a man who has played under some of the country's managerial legends, including Brian Clough, Sir Bobby Robson, Sir Kenny Dalglish, Glenn Hoddle and Terry Venables. Along with his 12 years at Nottingham Forest (which brought him to Blundell Park), Stuart has played at the highest levels of football - the Champions League, FA Cup Finals, World Cups and European Championships.
When he retired from playing at the age of 37, the now 56-year-old went back to education, taking a raft of courses at colleges across the UK to forge a new career in football management. Since then he has managed Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, and then the England Under-21 team for six years, taking them to an unprecedented four consecutive European Championships. He even acted as interim England manager for one game. ("I don't wear the waistcoat as well," he quipped.)
Stuart was selected to manage the Great Britain team at the 2012 London Olympics, having received an MBE the previous year. Throughout his career, he played in over 1,000 professional matches in 19 years at the highest level.
He visited Tollbar Academy to meet students before speaking to award winners and parents at the annual Presentation Evening, held at Grimsby Auditorium. He then handed out more than 200 prizes for Achievement and Progress in the Academic Year 2017/18. While it might not have been his biggest ever audience, almost 1,000 people turned out in Grimsby to welcome him.
"Visiting Tollbar Academy was amazing," he told them. "The biggest compliment I can pay the Academy is how well-rounded the students are. You can see that they are thriving on good education and that they have great futures to look forward to."
Addressing harder times, Stuart whose nickname was 'Psycho' because of his "no-nonsense" approach to defending during his playing days, said overall he "has the skin of a rhino."
He said adverse media reports when he missed the now infamous penalty for England against West Germany in the World Cup Italia '90, were very hard to take, but eventually washed over him. "My advice is to embrace adversity as a fantastic learning opportunity," he said. "Education doesn't finish when you leave this academy. It continues for the rest of your life. Failure to me would have been not taking that penalty."
Of course he more than redeemed himself in Euro 96 when he stepped up to score a fantastic penalty against Spain.
Caroline Yates, Tollbar Academy Principal, then paid tribute to the award-winning students saying: "You can achieve anything you want in life no matter what it is - just dream big."
The most prestigious award of the evening - the Chief Executive's Special Award for an Outstanding Student - went to Olivia Woodward, who has battled cerebral palsy, including a number of painful operations throughout her GCSE courses, going on to achieve 10 GCSEs this summer, including an A* in English.
She was described by Martin Brown, Deputy Chief Executive of TMAT, as "a student with remarkable tenacity and determination, an inspiration to staff and students and a wonderful sense of humour. Music is her passion and nothing stops her. She has the utmost focus," he said.
Olivia said afterwards: "I cannot thank Tollbar and its teachers enough. It was a complete shock to me, my mum did not even tell me where we were going tonight until we arrived. I have had reconstruction operations on my legs and at one point I was in a wheelchair during my GCSEs, but the staff were absolutely wonderful. They helped me to get through it all and I am now studying for my A Levels."
Further top award winners included Kayleigh Steel, who took home a remarkable six awards on the night, including the Principal's Cup for Year 10 Achievement.
Jacob Johnson received the Principal's Shield for Year 7 Achievement; Casey Foyle, the Margaret Mathews Cup for Year 8 Achievement; Isabella Glasson, the Governors' Award for Year 9 Achievement; Matthew Stone, the Philip Bond Trophy for Best GCSE Results; Renalnta Antypa, the Jefferson Trophy for Best Value-Added GCSE Results; Mia Patterson, the Bennett Trophy for Success Over Adversity; Daniel Taylor-Moore, the Val Savage Cup for Boys Year 7 Art; Ruby Last, the Val Savage Cup for Girls Year 7 Art; Jescie Sidhu, the Barclays Cup for Year 7 Most Improved Student; Christina Leung, the Tollbar Cup for Year 8 Most Improved Student; Luke Wright, the Alaina Taylor Memorial Award for Percussion; and Louise Jervis, the Giles Taylor Cup for Endeavour in Extra-Curricular Activities.
Throughout the evening there were some outstanding musical performances, including a show-closing medley of songs from Mamma Mia performed by Tollbar Show Choir. Tollbar Chamber Strings performed La Cumparsita and Trunchbull's Terrors performed a Matilda Medley. Tollbar Dance Trio performed a lyrical dance to Christina Perry.
Thanking everyone involved in the awards show, Philip Bond, Chair of Tollbar MAT who has been a governor at Tollbar for 35 years, also paid tribute to his fellow governor Margaret Mathews who died earlier this year. He described her as a "stalwart supporter of Tollbar who was devoted to the Academy."
To conclude, Stuart Pearce received a gift from the Academy, and while there was absolutely no sign of the "Psycho" days, the Grimsby audience did go crazy for him.
Olivia Woodward receives the most prestigious award of the night, the Chief Executive's Special Award For Outstanding Student, from Stuart Pearce MBE.
Jacob Johnson receives the Principal's Shield for Year 7 Achievement from guest speaker Stuart Pearce and Caroline Yates, Tollbar Academy Principal.
High-achiever! Kayleigh Steel, who won the Principal's Cup for Year 10 Achievement along with five other awards.
Mia Patterson receives the Bennett Trophy for Success Over Adversity.
Daniel Taylor-Moore receives the Val Savage Cup (Boys) for Year 7 Art.
Christina Leung receives the Tollbar Cup for Year 8 Most Improved Student.
Samuel Watson receives an award for Best GCSE Results and Best Value Added GCSE Performance.
Trunchbull's Terrors perform a medley from Matilda at Tollbar Academy Presentation Evening, held at Grimsby Auditorium.