Ready to speak her mind

editorial image

Generate Radio presenter Phoebe Inglis-Holmes is a girl on a mission. At just 17, the Berwick High School pupil is clear about what she wants – to be a broadcast journalist.

And with an offer on the table for a place on Glasgow Caledonian University’s prestigious broadcast journalism course, she’s on her way.

“I’ve got a real passion for broadcast journalism,” she says, eyes bright, animated. “It’s been a fantastic opportunity to be able to present my own show on Generate Radio, because that’s really opened my eyes up to how I could be in the future.”

Excited by the sheer accessibility of today’s broadcast media, she explains: “You can listen to it on your phone, your iPod, the computer... anything. You can access it all round the world, and for me to be a part of that, I think it’s incredible. On my first show there were people in Portugal listening in. It’s so strange but yet so fantastic.”

Sick of a national media she believes largely to be based on speculation, Phoebe, who lives with her mum in Chirnside, hopes she can one day inject her own element of authenticity to the industry.

“I want to be able to get the truth out about every subject,” she insists. “So much of what is written in the media now is based around speculation and a lot of it is downright lies.”

Bright, confident and clearly driven, Phoebe fought off 25 other hopefuls to win her place on the Glasgow-based course, after undergoing a rigorous selection process. She was one of only 20 applicants to be offered a place from the 500 hopefuls who applied.

Her ambition is tangible, her enthusiasm catching. It’s easy to see what sets her apart from the crowd. Yet her individuality hasn’t always stood in her favour.

Explaining that she spent 13 years at Longridge Towers School prior to her switch to Berwick sixth form, she says: “I definitely feel that I was privileged to go there. To have a private education is incredible. But it got to a stage where, for a number of different reasons, it wasn’t the right place for me to be any more.”

Explaining why, Phoebe reveals that she was bullied. Coming from such a strong, focused young woman, what she’s saying comes as something of a surprise.

It’s clearly a painful subject, her emotions bubbling just below the surface. You can hear the hurt in her voice and see it in her eyes as she calmly recollects the difficult times of her personal struggle.

“I was bullied for seven years by the same people just because they had an aversion to me which stemmed from absolutely nothing,” she says. “I want to big up people who say ‘no - I refuse to be part of your horrible activities’, and I want to tell anyone who might be experiencing something they don’t like at school or any other place to stand up and say ‘somebody, please help me’, because I know that I was too shy for so long to do that.

“But I also think that one of the main problems at a private school is that because people are paying for their education, they’re not so quick to remove you from an environment like that. My pleas were ignored for many years.”

Now in a much happier place, Phoebe is philosophical about her experience.

“Everything happens for a reason, that’s my mentality,” she insists. “It’s never been an option for me to follow the crowd. I know that people turning against me shows me how strong I am and how able I am to say to myself and to the rest of the world, ‘no, I’m not going to conform just because that’s what you want me to do’. But it was awful at the time, a big struggle. It was really difficult for me to have to say goodbye to a place that I loved so much simply because of how other people could destroy it.

“Moving to Berwick High School was a big change, it was like stepping out of a fish bowl and into the real world. But everyone was so friendly and nice, so supportive.

“I really do believe everything happens for a reason.”

And maybe she’s right. If it’s true that difficult experiences shape the people we become, Phoebe will perhaps look back one day and thank her tormentors.

Because this is a confident girl who is going places.