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Broadcaster and ex-Government Minister, Michael Portillo, joked he was looking forward to welcoming Labour leader Ed Miliband into the ‘former future Prime Ministers club’ when he addressed more than 300 students and guests at Trent College on Monday (6 October).
Mr Portillo, formerly a prominent Conservative MP who served in the Cabinet under John Major and was once tipped for the Premiership himself, joined the school as part of the Trent College Arts and Speakers Programme.
In the talk entitled ‘Life: A Game of Two Halves’, Mr Portillo discussed his high profile and often controversial career in the political spotlight before moving on to his re-invention as a respected broadcaster and his successful Great British Railway Journeys and Great Continental Railway Journeys series.
During a lively question and answer session, the former MP admitted he thought rail privatisation had been a success, and revealed his feelings on the UK’s entry into Iraq in 2003, having voted in favour of military action.
After the talk 25 students, including many studying politics and economics, and staff, had the opportunity to enjoy dinner with Mr Portillo.
Peter Nathanail, Sixth Form Student and Head of the Arts and Speakers Programme, said: “Mr Portillo was both entertaining and informative, and the evening as a whole was a huge success.
“There was much activity on Twitter complimenting the event, and all who attended said it had been most enjoyable. The opportunity to have further conversations with Mr Portillo over dinner was appreciated too.”
Mr Portillo’s visit came just three days after Trent College welcomed actress Elizabeth Bower, best known for her roles in shows such as ‘Doctors’, ‘Trollied’ and ‘Silent Witness’, to run a Comedy Workshop for drama students and scholars.
Donnaleigh Bailey, Trent College Director of Drama, said: “We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Elizabeth Bower. Working with professional actors enhances the learning and stretches the talent of our Drama scholars.
“I am keen to expand and develop the talents of our most gifted and able students and our scholars have an exciting and rewarding programme of events this year. By offering such an industry based workshop, students are able to showcase and further develop their talents to a professional standard.”
Elizabeth Bower added: “The workshop was designed to provide actors with a platform to use their confidence in their existing skills as performers to develop ideas for their own characters and written material in a creative environment.
“To see the talented young people at Trent College going from never performing stand-up before, to having the confidence to present their own material to the group in our own stand-up comedy club, was both inspiring and hilarious.”
The Arts and Speakers Programme includes speakers from the worlds of politics, academia, sport, the arts, industry and adventure, as well as other lectures, recitals and performances, all designed to equip students to embrace the academic and non-academic challenges of school, university and life beyond.