STUDENTS have been inspired by a world renowned rock climber as they were rewarded for reaching the peak of their performance.
Ben Heason led a party of climbers on an expedition to become the first in the world to climb Angel Falls, a 3,200ft sheer rock face in Venezuela, the highest waterfall on the planet.
As special guest at Longfield Academy of Sport academic awards evening, Mr Heason recalled how his party spent weeks trekking and canoeing through the Venezuelan jungle to reach the base of the climb, a height ten times that of Big Ben tower.
“The journey there was an amazing experience with something new around every bend in the river, including giant spiders and reptiles,” he said. “When we reached the base, in the knowledge no-one had done the climb before, it was a scary prospect and it would have been all too easy to jump back in the boat.”
It then took 20 days to scale its height, climbing, eating and sleeping attached to the rock face, the final 200ft being a 45 degree overhang, from which they had to hang on with their fingers and toes.
He told students, staff and families: “It is remarkable what we can achieve if we test ourselves. This was the climb of our lives, the most difficult ascent in the world and when we reached the top we were physically and mentally exhausted.
“But good things never come easy and it is only by pushing ourselves to the limit that we can look back with the greatest amount of pride.”
Mr Heason presented students with a host of prizes covering academic, sporting and community achievement, recognising outstanding effort, determination and excellence.
Guests were also entertained by a poetry reading by students Aimee Martin, Emily Vest, Lucy Clennell and James Harland.
Head teacher Susan Johnson said: “The young people receiving the awards represent the best in what has been an excellent year, the accolades testament to their hard work, dedication and achievements.”
Chairman of the Longfield Academy Trust Mark White added: “We are very proud of our young people, of their achievements, their talents, their ambitions and their potential.”