Top Sportsman and Inspirational Charity Champion Kevin Sinfield OBE awards talent at Yorkshire independent school Queen Ethelburga’s Annual Speech Day

23 May 2023

The inspirational sporting and charitable star of the moment Kevin Sinfield OBE shared his incredible headline-hitting achievements with the student, parent and staff community of North Yorkshire independent school Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate (QE) this weekend, as he took to the stage as the keynote speaker for the 2023 Speech Day celebrations.

The annual Speech Day at QE celebrates the achievements, recognises the talents, and awards student excellence across the four schools of the Collegiate: Chapter House; King’s Magna; The Faculty; and The College.

Kevin shared with the QE community of over 2,500 students, family members and staff; his achievements from his debut at Wembley at age 11, raising the monumental £7.5million for motor neurone charity MND and most recently taking on the role of England’s Rugby Defence Coach. He inspired students with advice on how to be the best version of yourself and also how to be a champion at home, as well as at school or in your career.

Kevin presented QE students with their awards, and he said of his day at QE:

It was great to be a part of the QE Speech Day, seeing and hearing about the achievements of the students and being a part of something which can inspire the next generation and the difference they can go out and make in the world. As I mentioned in my speeches on the day, to become a champion you have to be a champion at home first. My final piece of advice to them was no matter what the students go on to do after their time in education, cherish your friends too – and I really saw evidence of this at QE.


Students took to the stage performing various pieces over two events in the day, and below is just a snapshot of some of the achievements from this year so far:

The BEBRAS competition saw nearly thirty QE students score in the top 10% in the country which allowed them to gain access to the elite Oxford University Computing Challenge.
Year 6 students have challenged themselves with the Junior Mathematics Challenge, aimed at Year 8 and Year 9 students attempted the Intermediate Mathematics Challenge, aimed at Year 11 – four students have succeeded to the next stage.

  • Year 4 student Benjamin J was a finalist in the ISA Young Musician of the Year, winning 2nd place in the Junior category.
  • Year 13 student Hannah M was a winner of the ISA Shakespeare Monologue Competition.
  • Year 8 students George B, Stanley W and Zac K have been selected for the ISFA U13 Yorkshire Squad.
  • A team of QE senior school students have become the first school students in the UK to participate in the Student Motorsports Challenge, part of the UK CityCar Cup Championship.
  • The QE senior netball team won the SistersnSport National final.
  • The QE U16 netball team won the Independent Schools Association National Cup, as well as being Harrogate and Craven Area Champions.
  • The QE senior football team were Area Cup Champions.
  • The QE U16 Football team who won the Independent Schools Association 6-a-side National Cup.
  • The QE U16 basketball team – a team of long-standing QE students who have won the North Conference in the National League.

In addition to the team achievements, we have had a number of students who have signed to professional teams following their time at QE:

  • Footballer Jay McGrath has signed a contract with Coventry City
  • Heath Richardson has signed a contract with Bradford City FC
  • Amy Braithwaite is the first netballer from QE to sign a professional contract with Leeds Rhinos

The annual showcase also highlights achievements beyond the Collegiate, from QE’s strong alumni cohort of Old Ethelburgians. Anissa Payne, from QE’s Class of 2012 is Owner and Executive Producer of NM Productions and a finalist in the 2022 Movers and Shakers Awards, received the 2023 Outstanding Achievement from an Old Ethelburgian Award.

Travelling the world with her global production company, and working with household brands such as Apple, Nike, Jaguar, Adidas and Land Rover, Anissa spoke highly of her time at QE:

I think the one thing that is important for us all to realise whether you are still at QE; you are prospective students to QE; or you are former students of QE; is that we were really lucky to attend such a great school with amazing teachers, amazing facilities and amazing opportunities.

QE gave me the confidence to go out into the world knowing I had a really good network of connections that I had established at school.


Speaking on the day, Daniel Machin, Principal of Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, said:

QE is not a school where our students’ futures are dependent on our opinion of what they should achieve, it is a school where we take pride in our students’ ambition, and work alongside them to find as many opportunities as possible for them to achieve what they are aiming for.

Our students take pride in the diversity of our community, and that their aspirations are as varied as it is possible to be. From our future sporting heroes, engineers, doctors, lawyers, singers, politicians, our future fire fighters, teachers, apprentices, train drivers, astronauts, business owners; there is nothing better than seeing a student join us with their own hopes and aspirations and supporting them to realise this during their time with us.

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