Mayor's life story inspires Bishop's Stortford High School students
Students at The Bishop's Stortford High School were inspired by the life story of the town's mayor.
Cllr Norma Symonds gave the 15- and 16-year-old boys a frank account of the difficulties she faced when she was their age.
Her relationship with her parents had long been strained after she was told she was adopted, and she was exposed to homelessness, poverty, prostitution and drugs after she ran away to London from her home in Scotland.
Life on the streets of the capital left her with an unplanned pregnancy and her son was taken away from her for adoption.
Despite those difficulties, she managed to turn her life around and become a community stalwart, serving on the Bishop's Stortford town and East Herts district councils and championing the cause of the homeless.
School spokeswoman Helen Haines said: "Norma went on to get married and have four children of her own before becoming interested in local politics.
"She told the boys how she became a town, then district councillor, how she co-founded the Bishop's Stortford Food Bank and the night shelter, taking a particular interest in helping the homeless and former drug users.
"She's also the only councillor who has a 'street name' assigned to her by some of the people living on the street, who know she understands how they are feeling.
"There followed some very mature and sensible questions, which did the boys credit with their intelligent and considered thoughts. In fact, they were still speaking about it as they walked up the corridor."
More by this authorSinead Corr