Alumni – Lawrence O’Connell
I started Manningtree in 2006. I was in 7RM with Miss Ramsey being my form tutor. I still remember all the support she gave to me over my five years and without her as my tutor, I don’t think I would have done as much as I have. She always believed in all of us and pushed us to do our best.
I have so many fond memories of being at Manningtree, including the school trips: Belgium war graves, Danbury outdoors and so many more. When I was at school, geography was one of my favourite subjects and I will always remember the trip we went on to India, Miss O’Reilly (Mrs Scott) and Miss Blackford made that trip so memorable and were definitely the best teachers of geography.
On the trip we went to an orphanage, this was the first time I had an idea that I wanted to work in a job that I could help other people in.
When at school, I still remember being the student that would question, when in the future I would ever use the things I was learning about! I would often question this in science and maths. They were not always my favourite subjects, however the things I learnt at Manningtree, really helped me during my training as a nurse.
So I thank Mrs Hardy for my biology lessons and Mr Moreton for persevering with me in maths. I now do microscopy on a daily basis and use my maths skills on a regular basis when working out drug calculations.
In Year 11, I become a senior Prefect. The experience of the interview and management really helped me. It helped me with all interviews since, and has helped with my management skills during my career.
Manningtree High School is also the place I felt comfortable to come out as gay. I will never forget the support I got from my teachers and from my friends at school. I had heard so many upsetting stories of people coming out, getting bullied and not getting support—I never faced any of this being at Manningtree.
When I left school, I went on to Colchester Sixth Form. I did A levels in geography, world development, citizenship and politics, leaving with a B, B, C, C. I never knew about nursing or had an idea that I wanted to work in a hospital. It wasn’t until I went into hospital myself, when I was 17, that I decided I wanted to work in healthcare, and nursing was for me.
I then went on to get a place at Greenwich University to study adult nursing. The GCSE I got at Manningtree High School in science and maths, really helped me to get my place at uni.
I completed my degree in 2016 with a 2:1 Hons. My first nursing post was at Kings College Hospital in London in a busy trauma centre working in the emergency department. I worked there for two years before moving onto my current post as a Sexual Health and HIV Care Nurse at 56 Dean Street in Soho, part of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
I often think about my time at Manningtree. I made so many of my friends for life at school, and have so many memories.
Never take for granted the time you have at secondary school and remember that the lessons you think you will never use as an adult, might actually come in useful. I will always go the extra mile for my patients and for the LGBT+ community we serve.
Go with him Twain
Lawrence PJ O’Connell