SPEAKING to a packed room of 500 people would have been unthinkable for Anthony Gray just a few months ago.
But on Monday morning the 23-year-old from Bury St Edmunds, who has a stammer, did just that.
Standing in front of adults and children at his former school, St Louis Middle, Anthony explained how taking part in a stammering therapy course, the McGuire Programme, had changed his life.
With ‘facing your fears’ as the theme of the talk, Anthony told pupils how he had done just that to tackle his stammering.
A story of when he had to give a presentation to the class when in Year 6 at St Louis illustrated how severe his stutter was.
“I got to the front and blocked on the first word. I tried clearing my throat but nothing was happening so I ended up signalling for a glass of water and left the room. In the end I just went to the toilets and stayed there until the end of the lesson,” he said.
With those days behind him, he is set to be approved as a coach for the McGuire Programme in the near future.
It is the latest success for Anthony after he earned a masters degree in civil engineering from Cardiff University.
He is now due to start a doctorate in Offshore Renewable Energy at Edinburgh University in September.
He impressed selectors with a 10 minute oral presentation – a task that would have proved too daunting in the past.
Rose Heap, acting headteacher, said hearing Anthony’s story had been a moving experience for pupils and staff, some of whom taught him.
“We’ve been running assemblies on Olympian themes in recent weeks, talking about things like determination, courage and resilience.
“Anthony’s story fits all those qualities and to see him stand up and speak with such confidence and assurance was fantastic,” she said.