Alumnus of the Month
Lewwis Spence is our Westminster City School Alumnus of the Month for September 2021. Lewwis left Westminster City School in 2004. He is now a learning mentor at a primary school and captain of Hornchurch Football Club.
Please tell us a little about yourself – where do you work and how did you get to this role?
For the past ten years, I have worked in a primary school based in East Dulwich. Over this period, I have held two positions. Initially, I started in the capacity of a teaching assistant with the plan to gain valuable experience to then train and work towards a position teaching PE. After gaining experience across different key stages and year groups, I identified my strengths and progressed into my current capacity of learning mentor, where I have a key focus of supporting social emotional wellbeing and behaviour within the school.
Early on in my journey of working within education, I decided against going to university and studying to become a PE teacher but followed this passion by coaching at multi-sports holiday camps and coaching football at after-school clubs. Alongside this, I play football at semi-professional level for Hornchurch Football Club, where I am the club captain.
My current career fell into place as I transitioned away from professional football. Upon leaving Westminster City School in 2004, I entered a scholarship programme at Crystal Palace Football Club, where I participated in academy and reserve team fixtures, before being offered a professional contract. Personally, this was a real period of growth and really moulded me to the man I feel I am today. I was fortunate enough to make my first team debut in the Carling Cup (now known as the EFL Carabao Cup) at home to Notts County and, later that season, made my league debut at Leeds’ Elland Road, before making my first league start away to Burnley at Turf Moor. After two years as a professional at Crystal Palace, I joined Wycombe Wanderers, scoring on my debut and, later that year, won promotion to League One, behind Miss World’s beloved Brentford FC!
What are some of your proudest achievements since leaving Westminster City School?
First and foremost, becoming a father. Fatherhood is a wonderful gift and something you have to learn and adjust to very quickly. As mentioned above, I was fortunate enough to earn a professional football contract and go on to make my debut, score in the league, and win a promotion.
Yet my biggest success in football has come during my non-league journey. This year, I captained Hornchurch Football Club at Wembley, winning the FA trophy as clear underdogs; many have said it was the equivalent of a League One team winning the FA Cup.
What advice would you give someone looking to follow a similar career path?
Having a pathway or direction as to what you want you do as a career will definitely benefit you.
I was on a predicament at 15 to 16 years of age, as I knew football was a possibility but not guaranteed. I was fortunate enough to have good ability but I think what held me in good stead were the values instilled in me at home: ‘having the right attitude’ and ‘work ethic’. I believe those two values are what truly presented my opportunity. A career in football comes from a dedication and commitment in your craft. Longevity in football comes from consistency and resilience.
I was always encouraged to study hard and this has benefited me as I transitioned away from football into other professions. Education Is a very rewarding career (possibly not financially!), but helping young people grow and navigating their own journey through my own experiences is something I think money can’t buy.
How have your experiences at Westminster City School contributed to your life and successes since leaving school?
I believe Westminster City School nurtured my talents and offered me some great opportunities. I was identified as being gifted and talented, which allowed for a weekend away with other children my age from other schools within the borough of Westminster. This was a great social experience and a great character building trip.
At Westminster City School, I also was opened to other sports such as tennis, with Miss World even taking us on a trip to the prestigious Wimbledon tournament.
However, something I really only thought about more recently was the impact of Mr Huxley and the PE Department. They made me responsible! I was made captain of the football team and, with that, I had the responsibilities of organising and preparing the team for the match days, passing messages across the year group, informing the team of meet times and training days. I also had to think about my conduct around our School and set an example to others in the team. This served me well as I was made Head Boy in the senior year of my scholarship at Crystal Palace and have captained a number of the clubs I have represented.
Can you describe one of your fondest memories from your time at Westminster City School?
Friendship. From Westminster City School I met one of my best friends – he was from a totally different side of London, a different form group, and it was during a lesson I didn’t particularly enjoy.
In addition to friendship, I always looked forward to our end-of-year awards night at Westminster Abbey. This always seemed quite an extravagant event where I was proud to take my parents and showcase my achievements from the academic year.
The most important thing to me is being present for my family. Also, as I approach the tail end of my footballing career, I hope to stay in touch with the game. Ideally I would like to incorporate my mentoring into the world of sport, sharing my experience, and life skills, to enlighten the journey of others.
We love hearing what our alumni have been doing since leaving Westminster City School. Each month, we are inviting a member of our alumni community to share their story of life after Palace Street. If you’re an alumnus who would like to take part, or you’d like to volunteer an alumnus that you know, then please drop us an email.