Letters, Thursday, December 15th, 2011

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School visit was a real inspiration

WHAT a truly inspirational day I had at Monkwearmouth School Performing Arts College in Sunderland meeting the young people and teachers involved in Sky Sports Living for Sport!

My heartfelt thanks go to the many staff and pupils who welcomed me so warmly and shared their thoughts, experiences, aspirations and learnings from this initiative.

It was wonderful to see what a positive impact Sky Sports Living for Sport, which uses sport stars and sport skills to improve the lives of thousands of young people, has had on pupils in Monkwearmouth School Performing Arts College.

The pupils I met were a credit to the school and were full of enthusiasm, commitment and energy. My role as an Athlete Mentor for Sky Sports Living for Sport, which is delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, is to inspire pupils by drawing upon my own experiences of sport, the obstacles I overcame and the life lessons I have gleaned through sport. As is so often the case on these visits, I came away feeling incredibly inspired myself.

During my time with the pupils I encouraged them to think about the skills we learn through doing sport and how these can be applied to improve their lives. After all, sport is not just about fitness – sport helps people think, helps people listen, helps people to speak up and helps people work together.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the students on their achievements, and encourage them to keep focused on reaching their goals. Sport is not only about talent or winning medals; it brings together all the life skills needed to succeed, including hard work, self-belief, determination and passion.

Initiatives like Sky Sports Living for Sport are about teaching young people to strive to be the best that they can be.

JJ Jegede, English senior long jump champion

Public pensions

A HEADTEACHER from Sunderland, angry with the proposed changes to public sector pension schemes, told the Echo that her pension pot had been burgled.

That particular teacher is no different to many others in her profession – they don’t have a clue as to how teachers’ pension schemes operate.

It is a pay-as-you-go, unfunded scheme. There is no underlying investment fund, therefore there are no assets.

Talk of a personal pension pot is nonsense. Members contribute 6.4 per cent of their pay, with employers contributing a further 14.1 per cent. After administration costs are met every penny is paid out to more than 560,000 former teachers or dependants.

With contributions meeting less than one third of the cost of benefits being paid, the shortfall is met from general taxation. By March 2010 the accrued deficit on the teachers’ pension fund had reached £224billion, an unsustainable burden that applies to every segment of public service sector pension, hence the need for change.

Change is needed for no other reason than to quell the growing anger of millions of hard-working people outside the public sector who are funding more than 60 per cent of the cost of a public sector pensions gravy train.

If ever they was a case of fiscal abuse being inflicted on the general tax-paying public by the failure of successive governments to stand up and be counted, the funding of public sector pensions says it all.

With the economy on the ropes, I would have thought that teachers and other public sector professionals would be eager to show that we are all in it together.

If this is not to be so, I would suggest that they are close to rubbing shoulders with those who look upon irresponsibility as a virtue.

R. Metcalfe, East Herrington, Sunderland

Family’s thanks

THE family and friends of the late Thomas William Matterson would like to say a big thank-you for donations received in lieu of flowers and a special thanks to Lambton 283 Mess.

A total of £460 was raised, which has been shared between The British Heart Foundation and MacMillan Cancer charities.

Both will benefit from this kindness.

Thank you.

The Mattersons

Wishful thinking

A HEADLINE in the Daily Telegraph read: “We can be like Barcelona, says O’Neill”.

The only way Sunderland AFC can be like Barcelona is if Josep Guardiola becomes Sunderland manager and he brings the entire Barcelona squad with him.

J. Watson, Larchwood, Harraton, Washington