UPDATED: James Tennant challenges students to achieve their goals

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Alumnus James Tennant overcomes his stammer and talks to a packed lecture theatre at Leeds Trinity Journalism Week 

By Oliver Lines

A Leeds Trinity University graduate spoke about the challenges of overcoming his stammer to deliver a talk at Journalism Week.

James Tennant, who works at digital marketing company Take That Ltd, encouraged students to set targets and achieve them, whether personal or professional.

“You only get one shot in life, so make the most of it because you are going to have obstacles that you need to overcome,” he said.

“One phrase that has always stuck with me is ‘you wouldn’t ask someone with a broken leg to walk upstairs, so why are you asking a stammerer to speak?’

“I will always have a stammer but it’s up to me how I control it.”

James, who studied sports journalism, also praised the McGuire Programme, which helps people to overcome their stammers and turn them into articulate speakers, but emphasised that he still had work to do.

He said: “There are physical and psychological sides, such as going from thinking I can’t say a word to thinking I can say it.

“I’m not perfect, I still get stuck. There are words and sounds I have to work on.

“For the rest of my life, I’ll still have a stammer and there’s nothing I can do to make it go away.”

He also said that being on ITV’s This Time Next Year was instrumental in the progress he has made. The programme follows people for a year to see whether they can achieve their goal – James’s was to deliver a speech at his former school.

“When presenter Davina McCall asked my name, I couldn’t say it,”he said.

The next 12 months transformed his life.  “I had a camera crew follow me for a year and I did some things that scared me,” he said.

“When I went back to my old school and gave a speech, 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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