“Your talk was utterly astounding. After you left so many staff emailed me and stopped me to say how much your testament had moved and shocked them. I have never seen the students as quiet in all my days with them. They were stunned by your story and have been talking about it ever since. I know that this experience will stay with them for a long time.”
Pauline Ronan – Head of RE – Notre Dame Catholic College, Liverpool
“An oustanding presentation – one of the very best the pupils have encountered. Suitably disturbing and thought provoking, it had the pupils talking for days afterwards.”
Head of Sixth Form – Westminster School, London
“Shaun is an extraordinary speaker. He gives students a powerful message, as hard-hitting as they can handle (he tailors his presentations according to age group/ability without losing impact) and the message lives a long time. Shaun’s was not only the best anti-drugs talk I’ve ever seen in a school, he is the best speaker I’ve ever heard in a school. Shaun provides a captivating, memorable stimulus for getting your students talking about drug-use and the inevitable consequences of drug-related crime. His story is at times heartbreaking, but he shares it professionally, knowing that this is what will deter students from making life-changing mistakes in their future.”
Mark Coates – Advanced Skills Teacher – The Connaught School, Aldershot
“I just wanted to email and say a massive thank you on behalf of the students for delivering your talk. I have never seen the pupils so engaged. Having got feedback from a lot of them, they all thought the talk was brilliant. They were captivated by your story, enjoyed the visual images as well which helped them picture it and loved the opportunity to ask questions. After the event a lot of pupils said they were more aware of the risks of drug taking and it has changed quite a few opinions. You have helped me make a big impact and my Head teacher was thrilled with the success and so we will be looking to use you again in the future. All the staff who heard the talk said it was the best talk the school has offered. Thank you again for coming and sharing your story.”
Anna Merrygold – Head of Enrichment – St Crispin’s School, Wokingham
You came to speak at my school a while ago now and I have been meaning to thank you ever since.
People come into schools and speak about drugs, sex and danger on a regular basis, yet the most these presentations amount to are jokes dotted throughout the week about how people do all of the above anyway before the talk is completely forgotten. Your account of your time in prison was the first that I’d seen to really and truly touch every person in that room. You didn’t tell us to never look at drugs, to report anyone who had the slightest knowledge of narcotics or to stick to every guideline we’ve ever been given. As a teenager I can well and truly say that this wouldn’t have and continues not to have any effect whatsoever on the wellbeing or common sense of my classmates.
The way you delivered your speech inspired me. The facts were clear but the humour was prominent, keeping us all on the edge of our seats. You taught me that after a high there often comes a low, and however hard and rock-bottom that low may feel, determination and perseverance can always amend things in the end. I learnt about the hardships in jail, and what happens if you come head-to-head with the law; but on top of that there are so many more things that will always stay with me from your talk: The importance of family, the dissolution of dreams that may well result in something better, and yes, how to get my priorities straight. I’m sure you receive countless emails daily remarking on what an awe-inspiring man you are and what a change you make – but I felt that it would only be fair to give back even the tiniest bit of what you have given to me in a talk over a year ago.
Thank you so much,
Grace Beverley – Francis Holland School, London
You did a presentation about your experience in my school today, and I just wanted to say it was amazing, really opened my eyes. I have a bad past involving drugs also. I almost died in July of 2014 due to drugs and I have wanted to write a book about my experience ever since and you have inspired me to do so!
I have started reading your book already. I just wanted to tell you that your story has really inspired me.
Rhiannon – Age 17 – Ellesmere Port Catholic High School
I want to say that your story was really interesting and shocking. I never knew anything like that could be able to happen, and how you managed to cope there, you’re an absolute legend for surviving. Your story really inspired all of us at that school and it was what everyone was talking about for the rest of the day, and I think it will be a story we will always be sharing.
Rebecca Gouldbourne – Age 12 – Swanmore College of Technology, Hampshire
You came into my school today, and I just wanted to say that out of the whole of our day of videos and lectures yours made the most impact. I still can’t believe what happened to you. It’s so incredible and terrible it sounds like a horror story. Thank you so much for talking to our group. Your story really made a difference to my life.
Beki Lemon – Age 13 – Swanmore College of Technology, Hampshire
I firstly want to say thank you for today’s talk. Coming in and telling your life story about your experiences touched me and made me think in many ways. It made me realise that life is more important than any other thing in the world no matter what comes in the way. After listening to your talk today, I walked out of the door and was hit with many thoughts rushing through my mind. I had images in my head of what it was like and I asked myself if I ever got into that situation would I be able to cope. Again I would like to say thank you, as you have made me aware of what drugs can do and the consequences they can have. I will pass on the message and make others be aware and think what could happen if they continue to do drugs.
Jake Ayres – Age 16 – Gordon’s School, Surrey
You came to an extended assembly at my school. I’m emailing you to tell you how thought-provoking and interesting I found your story. I have been interested in prisons and the justice system for a while now. Your story meant such a lot to me because I hope to work with the justice system after university, and I am now determined to fix these corrupt departments and people, as well as improving the conditions in prisons in America and the UK. Usually, assemblies consist of a teacher talking for less than ten minutes whilst none of the students pay them any attention – we usually talk amongst ourselves or fall asleep. However, when you came in to tell your story everyone was captivated and sat on the edge of their seats to hear what would happen next. When you had finished, we all wished there was more to come. For the rest of the day, lessons were spent discussing the assembly between ourselves, and everyone was full of admiration and respect for you. A particular boy in my year, who has been meddling with drugs in the past, spoke to me after your talk. He said to me that what you had told us had been like a slap in the face, and that he is revolted by what can happen from messing with illegal substances. Since the assembly, he has been completely clean and he plans to stay that way. I am sure he is not the only one within the two year groups that has been influenced enough to stay away from drugs now, and I know that these people have only you to thank.
Aofie Strahan – Age 16 – Weydon School, Surrey
You came to my school the other day and I thought I’d just give you an email to say you were really brave to stick through what you’ve been through. You’re a real inspiration to all young people.
Chloe Eales – Age 16 – The Cranbourne School, Hertfordshire
Feedback from six students at Hertford Regional College:
“I thought the talk was outstanding – really enjoyed it.”
“I learnt that drugs are bad for you and your family and the consequences.”
“I learnt not to do things just because everyone else is doing it. It has made me understand prison life and that I never want to be there.”
“I learnt not to take drugs even if it looks good and fun. It has so many more consequences that I hadn’t even realised.”
“It made me feel strongly about not taking drugs.”
“it was shocking and sad – it has scared me when I think of the consequences of taking drugs.”
I remember you coming to my school a few years ago & not that long ago you visited again to speak to the a group of boys at my school. I was so annoyed I couldn’t listen to your story again because you’ve opened my eyes to so many things. I grew up with my mum being addicted to cocain & heroin, so I personally know what it’s like to see drugs and know their destructive effect, I could relate to things you had said. The main reason for this message is because ever since you came to my school 2 years ago, I think, you made me so interested in anything to do with prisons, mainly death row. For the last 2 years I have been doing all sorts of research into anything to do with prisons, mainly in America. I’ve just finished reading your book Prison Time, it was completely eye opening, I was so interested with the book it only took me 2 days to read it and I’m just about to read Party Time.
I just wanted to thank you for making me realise what I want to do when I finish school which is working as a restorative justice officer. I hope one day you’ll be able to return to my school again, you’re an inspiration to me.
You’ve completely changed the way I was 2 years ago when I was getting involved into alcohol & drugs, since then I’ve put my head down in school to persue in being a restorative justice officer. I’ve gone from being a F/E grade student, on the verge of getting kicked out of school, to a C/B grade student & haven’t been in any trouble.
Katie – The Marsh Academy, New Romney
Dear Mr Loach,
I am writing to thank you for the talk that Shaun Attwood did today (2nd February) to the students at your school, my son is in year 10 and I have been having a few minor problems with him both in and out of school, he hasnt stopped talking about Mr Attwood and the experiences he has been through and my son was both amazed and very interested in what he had to say. We sat down this evening and discussed it at great length I asked him if hearing how his life turned out makes any differences on the choices he makes and he said yes, he doesnt want his life to be like Mr Attwoods was and has promised to think more about what he does before he does it. He found the talk very informative and I personally would like to thank you for providing this opportunity to the school, as as a parent I feel that children of today really dont seem to understand what goes on in the real world and don’t usually think about things before they do it.
Once again thank you.
With kind regards.
Please forgive this intrusion as I know you are a busy man. I followed your
blog for many years, from the early days and think I may have even sent your
dad a line of support, needless to say I also pre ordered your book and
found it to be both harrowing, and brutally honest. You put the fear of God
into me, and luckily also to my eldest who is a year 10 pupil at Tring
School in Hertfordshire.
I ignored his chatter about this ‘prison dude that came and told
us all about being in jail’, I nodded absent mindedly when he mentioned how
scary this bloke made it all seem, it was only when he said that the speaker
had been a stockbroker ‘whatever one of them is’ that a giant penny dropped.
Needless to say he is now devouring your book and the feedback from his
friends most of whom were firmly in the ‘white, suburban, glamour gangster
wannabe’ tribe is very encouraging. For the first time, somebody has got
through to them about the perils and repercussions of some of the life
choices they may make.
Please let me know if you are coming back this way and I will make sure that
the boys (I have 4 all at that school, so you will get one Bettridge or
another on each visit) bring a copy of Hard Time for a signature and photo
opportunity. If you need a place to stay, or anything else, please let me
know and I would be delighted to have you as a guest of the family.
Keep up the good work.
I felt compelled to write this email as you visited my daughter’s school today, Stoke Newington High, and gave a talk about the tough challenges you have been through.
Taila is my daughter who you met today and signed a book for (that she has not put down since being at home) and let me tell you how much you have touched and inspired her to the point when she rang me at work. I too was close to tears with the stories she was telling me. Never before after hearing any speaker has she come home with so much passion and emotion not forgetting interest, and I just wanted to say thank you.
Before today, I had never heard of your talk, but let me say that you will now be someone that I will never forget as I truly believe you have had that much of an impact on my daughter from just spending an afternoon with her.
It’s so important for young kids to realise that all that glitters is not gold and that there are so many different ways to make in life and it all doesn’t have to be materialistic.
As I read Wikipedia about you my heart races and my emotions too are running high, the pain you and your family have been through is unimaginable, and I’m just so glad you have made it through the other side not totally unscarred but a better person for it.
Having been through mentally scarring situations myself, I know the difficulties psychologically you will probably have to deal with for the rest of your life, and to think bearing that in mind you still have time to share your experiences with others.
Another interesting point Taila mentioned was that speakers have been in before telling kids don’t take drugs, stay in school etc etc but she said you didn’t preach, you just spoke about your life, and that she said was enough. What can I say but I wish you the very best for the future and hope to meet you one day.
I have just finished the third book of your 3, Prison Time, and I am filled with admiration for your strength and courage in getting through those years. My son who attends Sevenoaks School brought home the first two books in Oct 2013 when you went to give a talk there. I was and am still horrified at what goes on in US prisons and maybe also in prisons around the world. Your books have highlighted the need for serious reform and I would like to do whatever I can to help.
Another thing that you’re doing which is wonderful is the talks that you’re giving in schools . Young people need your advice more than ever now, looking at the speed at which they are growing up. Not just to stay away from drugs and any type of addiction, but how to handle the ” wolves when they call”.
Thank you Shaun, you’re doing a fantastic job. I wish you all the best in your life and peace and happiness always. The world needs more Shaun Attwoods.