Honorary degree from University of Nottingham

It was amazing to receive an honorary degree from the University of Nottingham at Winter Graduation.

I’m thrilled to share this special day with the graduates. It means a lot to me and my family. Hopefully it will inspire other young people to believe in themselves too.

It was great to see the story on BBC News and to see me and my mum interviewed for ITV News. The reaction to the news has been wonderful. I’m touched by all the lovely messages from people.

Here is what I said:

“Thank you for honouring me with this Degree,
and for letting me share this moment with you.

It is a privilege to be here.

It’s hard to believe.

I can’t quite believe it…

That I’m here … on this stage.

I didn’t think I’d ever be here… and maybe, there were times…
when you were not sure you would make it to graduation.

You may already be thinking about what’s next,
but let’s all just pause, and take a minute,
to think about where we are right now.

We’re here! 🙂

We worked hard to get here.

It means much more than a Degree in our hand,
and a cap and gown.
Each of us had a different journey to get here.

And… We… Are… Here.

My journey … is an unexpected journey.

When I was young, people were worried that maybe I would not be able to walk.

Maybe I would not be able to talk.

Many people… often nice people… thought I would have a very limited life.

Now, I don’t just speak… I act.
I learn scripts by talented writers. I have been on TV, stage and radio.

I don’t just speak… I campaign.
I’m an ambassador for Mencap… and I spoke at the UN on World Downs Syndrome day.

And I don’t just walk… I dance.
And have toured Europe as a dancer.

If I’d believed all the things… that people said … I couldn’t do,
I would not have done any of that.

And I would not be standing here now…
on this stage …
looking out at all of you wonderful graduates.

I would not get to see all of your faces and say… Congratulations!
We made it!! 🙂

There may be times in your life when people doubt you.

There may be times when you doubt yourself.

But don’t listen to doubt… Don’t listen to labels…

Believe in yourself.

No one knows your potential… No one knows the future.

It is OURS to make… It is OURS to show what we can do.

Let’s go… Make the future!

Thank you.”