The Inspiration

James has found great inspiration from the following people before, during and after his surgery:

Carol Dweck and Howard Gardner

These two thinkers of the last 20 years have inspired James.   In light of Gardner’s book, ‘Multiple Intelligence Theory’,  James has learned not to ask of a pupil or adult – how intelligent they are, but rather, ‘how are they intelligent?’  Likewise, James has seen how adopting a ‘growth mindset’ rather than a ‘fixed mindset’ towards people, has borne fruit.



Mo Farah


James was at the London Olympics on ‘Super Saturday’, the night before he was admitted for surgery. Watching the whole stadium erupt in elation when Mo was victorious was truly exciting but we know, that for Mo, it was a journey of blood, sweat and tears that brought about this occasion. This has inspired James.

Viktor Frankl

VFMan’s Search for Meaning’ was written by this Jewish psychotherapist and Auschwitz survivor. His book was a source of wisdom for James. Frankl’s insights gave James hope in adversity, a key one being ‘having a generous spirit’. This life-giving ‘tip’ of sharing with others, even when one may be in acute deprivation, is something which remains precious to James today.

Nelson Mandela

download-3James visited Mandela’s cell several years ago and has always been interested in South African politics. Reading ‘A Long Walk to Freedom’ whilst in his own medical prison for 11 weeks, inspired James to see that patience, perseverance, vision and not being bitter were key ingredients to living a significant life in the face of adversity.

Nick Vujicic

The clip below reveals the optimistic outlook this man has. He has no arms and no legs, yet lives life to the full. James was registered to be severely visually impaired in March 2013.  Since this moment, Nick has inspired James to consider what he can do rather than what he can’t.


Bob Burford

This ex-editor of the New York Times experienced a major life challenge in his 40’s, with the tragic death of his son.  Choosing to alter his life and priorities he came to the conclusion that ‘success’ needed to be converted into ‘significance’.  His book ‘Half Time’ impacted James greatly. He now realises that success is so often about self, whereas significance is about benefitting others. This is more life fulfilling!


David Shone

Recently James attended a commemorative event in Liverpool celebrating 40 Years of the charity ‘Local Solutions’. This charity was founded by James’ father, who had to reassess his journey after a mid-life setback. Today it employs over 1,100 employees and has affected countless lives. David did not see the full extent of the charity’s current growth, before he died. However it confirms James’ belief that if we set out to be significant and add value then it really can be done.


Eric Liddell

The Scottish athlete impresses us all with his phenomenal levels of self discipline and focus. But perhaps, as the clip shows, his most inspiring quality was his full appreciation that he was made for a purpose. We are all made for a purpose.

Ex Pupil

Monkton Senior School, 2015

Not surprised to hear that James Shone is truly changing the world beyond the valley. What a man.