LIVE: Trinity graduate beats stammer to speak at Journalism Week


By Oliver Lines

James Tennant stunned the Journalism Week audience by doing something he never thought he could do: talk in front of a large audience.

Leeds Trinity alumnus James was determined to conquer his fear of public speaking and overcome his stammer, and shared that journey on ITV programme This Time Next Year, hosted by Davina McCall, earlier this month.

James is now social media coordinator at Take That Ltd, a digital company based in Leeds, having graduated from the sports journalism course in 2012.

He said: “I’m not here to tell you about my experiences in sports journalism. I’m here to tell you a story about a boy with dreams and aspirations.”

He spoke of his life before taking part in the McGuire programme, which transformed his everyday life.

“I am the stammerer,” he said. “The guy who can’t string two words together. The guy who got the phone put down on him, the guy who got turned away from bars, the guy who suffered from a debilitating stammer.

“I can’t put it into words what it’s like having a stammer. I know the words I want to say but I can’t say them. With all the respect in the world, you can’t begin to know what it’s like.

“For me, every day was forcing words out. I thought ‘I’ll survive, I’ll get through,’ but who wants to live their life living that way?”

James went on to reveal how his journey to beat his stammer began, with a phone-call from ITV last September.

“They were searching for someone with a stammer who wanted to overcome it. And I said ‘this time next year, I will take control of my stammer.’

“I had a camera crew follow me for a year. I did some things that scared me. I went back to my old school and gave a speech, and I was nearly in floods of tears. But I thought ‘I’m on TV here, I can’t cry on TV’.”

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