Football legend’s teacher awards reminder

Ian Wright with Desert Island Discs presenter Lauren Laverne. Picture: BBC

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Football legend Ian Wright provided powerful testimony to the life-transforming impact of teachers on Desert Island Discs on Sunday (February 16).

With just two weeks left until the deadline for nominations for the London Teacher of the Year Awards, Mr Wright’s tribute to a former teacher provided a timely reminder of the important role such initiatives can play in recognising the contribution educators make to society.

Speaking to presenter Lauren Laverne, Mr Wright said that his former primary school teacher Sydney Pidgen transformed his.

The former England, Arsenal and Crystal Palace striker described Mr Pidgen as “the greatest man in the world”.

He added: “He changed my life just by recognising that I needed more, and he gave it to me.”

Before becoming a teacher, Mr Pidgen served as a fighter pilot in the RAF in the Second World War.

Mr Wright broke down as he described how his teacher had told him he had been prouder when Mr Wright played for England than when he himself flew over Buckingham Palace during celebrations following the end of the war in 1945.

Mr Pidgen, who died in 2017, taught Mr Wright when the footballer was a pupil at Turnham Junior School in Lewisham.

The ceremony for the 2020 London Teacher of the Year Awards takes place at British Airways’ headquarters in Harmondsworth in June.

Winners will be announced for primary and secondary education, the capital as a whole as well as its separate districts, and in categories including school leaders, senior and newly qualified teachers, support staff, volunteers and sport and science teachers.

The awards judges include the London Borough of Croydon, Principals by CH&CO, the University of Greenwich, StreetspaceKCS and Towergate Insurance.

Submit nominations by 11.59pm on March 8 at

And you can listen to Mr Wright talk about his former teacher here.

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