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Leo Gormley  Inspirational Speaker

In our modern world, where individuals are increasingly obsessed with their looks, an acceptance of individual difference, and a true tolerance of diversity are important components of a civilised society. Leo Gormley's  hope is that one day everyone in society will be comfortable with their appearance whether or not they have a disfigurement.

Leo Gormley presented the "The most inspirational lesson I have ever had."

Most teachers would be over the moon at that kind of feedback from their pupils. For Leo Gormley  it is confirmation that he is doing the right thing.It is in their early teens that most young people start to take an interest in their appearance, and it was at this crucial time in his life that Leo was involved in a petrol fire which left him scarred both physically and emotionally. Sustaining full thickness burns to his hands, face and legs he wasn't expected to survive the three hour journey to the nearest burns unit.

Leo Gormley did survive and spent the next four months undergoing many operations, plastic surgery and associated treatments before being allowed home for Christmas. It was only then that he began to realise the full impact that his changed appearance was to have on himself and on others.

Leo now shares his personal story with young people, relating how he coped with the trauma of the accident and his subsequent treatment and how he adjusted to the impact that his changed appearance had on himself and on others. He explains how he learned to deal with the curiosity, the staring and the name calling that occurred on his return to everyday life.

Leo Gormley went on to become a successful engineer, manager, businessman, husband and father, however he recognises that it took him a long time and a great deal of perseverance to become comfortable with his disfigurement. It is through telling his story to young people that he seeks to illustrate how, in a modern world, where individuals are increasingly assessed on their looks, an acceptance of individual difference, and a true tolerance of diversity are important components of a civilised society ……and that the bad guy isn't always the one with the scars! 

Leo Gormley  Motivational Speaker

Leo Gormey  Inspirational Speaker


In our modern world, where individuals are increasingly obsessed with their looks, an acceptance of individual differences, and a true tolerance of diversity are important  components of a civilised society. Leo Gormley's hope is that one day everyone in society will be comfortable with their appearance whether or not they have a disfigurement.

Leo Gormley was born and brought up in a happy and stable home in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, the fourth of six children. When he was thirteen, that stability was rocked when suddenly and without warning, his Dad died. Less than a year later it was shattered when, 
while spending his school holidays doing a job he loved, cleaning and repairing clocks for a local watch and clockmaker the petrol used to clean the clocks ignited and the subsequent fire engulfed the shop, trapping both Joe and the watchmaker inside. 

They both managed to escape but Leo Gormley wasn’t expected to survive the three hour journey to the nearest Burns Unit, he did, and spent the next four months undergoing various operations, plastic surgery and associated treatments. 
 
It wasn’t until his eagerly awaited return home from hospital that the real impact of his injuries became apparent. He had pretty well recovered from the trauma of the accident, but now found himself struggling to adjust to the impact his changed appearance was having on 
others - the curiosity, the staring and the name calling that occurred on his return to school and everyday life. At 14 Leo Gormley  was just coming into himself as a young man and struggled to accept both the impact his disfigurement and damaged hands was having on hime life.    He remebers  feeling remorseful, sorry for himself, angry, guilty, worthless and depressed. 

When Leo Gormley eventually came to understand that he would have to live with the face he’d been left with, and contrary to what he’d been told, surgery alone was never going to it fix it, he was   “scarred for life”. It was a harsh reality that Leo needed to accept before he could get on with his life. Thankfully, he had the support of his mum, family and friends without whom he knew that time would have been even harder to cope with. 

Leo Gormley gradually came to terms with his changed appearance. He realised that if he stood tall and confident, looked people in the eye and ignored the stares, people quickly accepted me for who he was.  It wasn’t always so easy – walking into a shop or a crowded room often proved difficult.  Leo often got angry with people who would openly stare or comment – he remembers once  asking a couple on a train that wouldn’t stop staring, if they would like a photograph. During his early job hunting days, Leo Gormley had a few rejections because of his appearance, at the time it made him angry and upset, but in the end made him try harder to be accepted for his skills and abilities rather than for how he looked. He went on to become a successful engineer, a senior manager for a multi-national telecommunications company, businessman, husband, father and bereavement counsellor.
 
People still stare and make comments, most of which he chooses to ignore - though there are occasions when he feels the need to ‘offer advice’.  Whilst teenagers can be downright difficult, younger children and toddlers can present more problems for their parents than for him. They approach Leo with simple curiosity demanding an explanation for his unusual appearance. Embarrassed mothers don’t say anything but he finds that a straightforward explanation keeps the child happy and teaches him/her that people who look different are ok. Likewise mum might understand that it’s better to explain about differences in a positive way thereby encouraging acceptance.

Leo is now a successful engineer, manager, businessman, husband and father, however he recognises that it took him a long time and a great deal of perseverance to become comfortable with his disfigurement. 

It is through telling his story to young people that he seeks to illustrate how, in a modern world, where individuals are increasingly assessed on their looks, an acceptance of individual difference, and a true tolerance of diversity are important components of a civilised society ……and that the bad guy isn’t always the one with the scars! 

Leo Gormley  Inspirational Speaker

Leo Gormley

"It has been a complete honour to have Leo Gormley working with us in our school. Never before has a speaker been so open and honest with us about their story. Our pupils were spell bound by Leo's positive approach to life and were inspired by him on many levels, so much so that we have decided to repeat the session with this year's Year 10 cohort. Leo’s willingness to answer questions from our pupils encouraged even the most disengaged of our pupils to participate. The lasting impact that Leo's talk has had upon our image-conscious girls especially, has been invaluable and we would welcome him back to our school with open arms anytime."
Mrs. J Goulding, Citizenship and Enterprise Coordinator, Wade Deacon High School

"To say Leo Gormley's visit was a success is an understatement. His quiet, unassuming manner, engaged the pupils immediately, and they were intrigued by the story he told them. His visit enabled the students to see people with facial disfigurements as just that, people; whereas before his visit, through ignorance, they judged people on appearances first. I have no hesitation in recommending Leo Gormleyas a speaker in schools."
Mrs. A. Parnell, Head of English, St. Mary's Roman Catholic School, Stockton-on-Tees

Just wanted to drop you a quick line to thank you again for all your brilliant work yesterday. Your input throughout the day was truly inspirational and your honest and real approach to the sessions engaged all our students 110%. The quality and depth to their questions at the end of the day proved how much you had engaged them with your story and how much they were thinking about the impact of what you were saying. This is a topic that is fundamental to the lives of all our children today: never has the subject of body image and self-esteem been such an important area for development for our teenagers, in light of the pressure from the media and the wider community. What you communicated to them is the importance of being themselves and the value of life, not looks. 

Leo Gormley I think your work is very important and something that you will continue to develop into an essential part of the educational curriculum for schools in the North East. Let me know if I can be of any help in the future”.

Head of Yr 8 Co Durham Community Collage

Feedback from Teachers and Students:

Leo Gormley,  Gate duty prevented me from thanking you personally at the end of the day, so many thanks for the inspirational assemblies you delivered today. Our pupils were “buzzing” about them throughout the day and many were visibly moved by your presentations”.
Deputy Head, Co Durham Academy School
   

Leo Gormley  Many thanks to you too for your presentation and I'm glad you enjoyed ours. The pupils really gained great insight into acceptance and understanding due to your story. They also learnt how important self-confidence is to guide us all through life. I'm sure it will be learning which will also hopefully be a life-long message”.

Deputy Head Co Durham Primary School


Students and Drama Teacher/Citizenship Co-ordinator, Teesside Comprehensive.
Sorry to take so long to get back to you-the Drama exam took over my life! The kids are still talking about your presentation and I know they will remember it when much of their schooling has been long forgotten. A few students have asked me to pass on their messages

Thank you so much for such an inspiring talk on 16th March. Your story was amazing and really made me think about people in your situation
Emma
 
You were an inspiration and it really gave me a different view on life because of how you coped with everything that happened to you”
.
Leo  Gormley I'm so glad you gave me an insight into how you dealt with everything, it was great to meet you and I'm glad you've inspired me”.
Katie
 
The entire session was both powerful and inspirational-Leo's tale, struggles and the pain he experienced truly put my life into perspective. It also made me aware of people like Leo Gormley  with facial disfigurements. I think I left the entire thing more learned, empathetic and humbled. Powerful stuff

Matthew

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