COMMENT - Shirebrook's young people are showing us the way
I've been called a great many thing over the years - in this job you ultimately upset people, largely because you have to write things that they really don't want in the paper or on the web.
I’ve been accused of political bias, by every political party, I’ve been accused of being insensitive. Someone once even told me I was a ‘jackal’ - very loudly from a moving car window.
But until Monday I had never been accused of racism. That is definitely a first.
The reason for this is that I wrote the story about Shirebrook teenager Jakub Klosowicz, the Polish lad who has been elected head boy at Shirebrook Academy.
There was anger from a few posters on our Facebook piece, insinuating that the Chad was accusing the people of Shirebrook as being racist.
This story says none of these things. It says, in essence, that young people at the town’s academy have been welcoming to a student who arrived in Shirebrook from Poland two years ago and has made a real success of himself and a real impact on them.
It is a celebration of a fresh and positive attitude from the young people of a community that did vote in droves to leave the EU, a community that has seen huge changes in its makeup, has seen racial tensions, has seen poverty and has got the thin end of the wedge in terms of Government support and funding for a very long time. It is essentially a story of hope.
Jakub is a real success story and needs to be celebrated, as indeed does Shirebrook Academy’s new head girl Kirsty Bradbury, who has demonstrated all of the same traits.
There are a few things that are simply matters of fact - the people of Shirebrook, as well as the people of Mansfield and Ashfield, did vote overwhelmingly to leave the EU.
That is not saying people are racist - simply that they represent a certain point of view, that they are not happy with the lives they have been dealt perhaps, and feel short changed against other parts of the UK.
Shirebrook’s racial tensions have also been well documented, both by us and other media organisations.
But what has happened here is that we have all been taught something by a generation that we should be teaching.
The students at this academy have done something actually quite incredible - they have welcomed people into their lives and seen their potential. They have seen beyond nationality and race. They have, one would hope, seen the future. They have shown us all how to move on, after our nation and our communities were divided over Brexit.
For good or bad, we have decided to leave the EU and we now need to work together, to come together, for the sake of our young people, young people like Jakub and Kirsty (both pictured), so we can all move forward into a more tolerant world.