Making my mark


2. Project Legacy: Complete.


So, whilst waiting for that elusive e-mail, life carried on, I went to school, didn’t talk, got okay grades, ate, slept, worked at the shop and dreamt of a life in Borneo. I started reading Anne Frank’s diary again as she is a constant beacon of inspiration for me to follow my dreams when, I finally heard that sought after ‘bing bong’ of my e-mail inbox.

To: Jess Woods (

From: The Borneo Experience (


Dear Jess,

After weeks of reading through all the entries we received for our ‘Speak Up because they can’t! Competition, we have put together our shortlist and, YOU’VE MADE IT!

You are therefore invited to the final where you will give your speech to our team of judges and hundreds of our workers and volunteers who will then decide the final lucky winner!

See you in two weeks,


The Borneo Team

I stared at my computer screen in disbelief. I’d made the final. Me.  Jess.  The girl who doesn’t talk!

My dream is finally within reach!

Two weeks passed in a flash and soon I found myself on the train to London with my parents! I mentally (and frantically) went over my speech and my notes. Soon enough, I was backstage with the three other finalists, who were all confident, bold characters who seemed to have more passion than I could ever dream of. I began to lose hope, but the little voice within me wouldn’t stand it – ‘YOU are passionate Jess, YOU are confident, YOU are bold.’ I can do this, I told myself.

‘And next on, from Surrey, we have JESS WOODS!’

Showtime. No going back.

…The crowd erupted. I was met with rapturous applause for my speech and I couldn’t be sure but I was pretty sure it was slightly louder than the other contestants applause had been but whatever happens, I know I did my best and have made some sort of impression.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, after much deliberation we have come to a decision, your winner of ‘Speak Up because they can’t!’ and flying out to Borneo next summer is…JESS WOODS!’

Me? Me? Really?

I ran up on stage to join the announcer and as I took in the crowd, I spied my parents, who, for the first time ever, looked actually proud of me, I’d finally beaten some of my demons. I was going to experience things outside of my bedroom, I going to be making a difference, I was going to BORNEO.

Things changed after that day, the local press did a story on me and people at school started to notice me and tell me how much they loved animals too. It encouraged me to start up my own Animal Rights club and a new position of ‘Animal Rights Leader’ was made in my name!

I still can’t believe it. But somehow, it’s true.

I hope I will leave a legacy for other animal rights campaigners, I hope I will inspire shy, stammering teenagers; I hope I have started making my mark.

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