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Thursday, 14 November 2019

Headmaster's Blog #45

Headmaster’s Blog – November 2019

It has been far too long since my last blog, and much water (mainly rain and flood water) has passed under the bridge in the meantime. However, it seems particularly apt to write one today following three fantastic, school days, that really sum up for me, what school and Abberley in particular is all about.

On Friday evening we had our Night at the Movies – a whole school concert organised by Mr Dunham and involving every single pupil in the prep school. The largest bags of pop corn I have ever seen were bought in and the audience all took a carton of it with them into the show. It was a packed house (more chairs had to be found at the last minute), the lights went down, and the tunes began. It was wonderful to see such a wide array of talent and such patently happy children performing. The youngest ones in Form 1 & 2 were a scream and were not in the least overawed by such a large audience or participating in the whole school numbers. The 100s nailed their dance moves in ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and the 28 soloists did themselves very proud indeed.

I don’t know about you, but this was the antidote I needed for the very wet, muddy and often glum autumn days we have been having. It gave me the lift I was after, and judging by the positive feedback from those who came to listen (and participate!), I am not the only one.

Much to my frustration we felt we had to take the decision to cancel the bonfire for a second time. The forecast, usually so much more reliable these days, predicted heavy and guaranteed rain, allied with a noticeable drop in temperature. We took the rather ‘unAbberley’ approach of caution over fun, and knocked the bonfire planned for Saturday evening on the head. As it turned out, the foul morning weather made a bit of a retreat and it wasn’t actually raining when the bonfire had been scheduled. Nonetheless, the boarders were not too upset, distracted as they were by a very good supper of quality hot dogs (planned for the bonfire party), supplemented by curly chips and onions, followed by toffee apples, and then a DISCO!

This was a new idea for All-In weekends and much fun was had sparkling up, doing some funky hair dos, and getting the disco lights going. One that will be repeated, I am sure – Mr Richardson’s weekends are always loved by the boarders.

This morning we had what, I thought, was a particularly special Remembrance Chapel Service. Chapel was packed, and it was lovely to see OAs, families with younger children, as well as having the honour of the attendance of the great grandfather of four of our pupils, Raymond Webb, who had served during D Day as a signalman on a mine-sweeper. He is one of the few surviving member of the armed forces who took part in D Day itself. I was extremely grateful to OA, Lieutenant Colonel Julian Smith, who has two girls in the school, addressing the congregation. His address was spot on and resonated with the pupils and adults alike. The choir sang beautifully and a good number of our pupils were involved, reading the Roll of Honour, playing the Last Post (well done Harriet!) and doing readings and saying prayers. It reminded me that this is what school, and Abberley in particular, is all about. We are a community first and foremost, particularly the boarders; we share a bond, past, present and future, and remembering and honouring former pupils who gave their lives for their country and the freedoms we still enjoy today underlines this fact. The Front Hall was busy afterwards and I must say that it was a privilege to be involved in the morning.

Another privilege of this job is getting to see the pupils compete in matches on a Wednesday or Saturday afternoon. The foul weather meant that we had to cancel the home matches this Saturday, so I took the opportunity to jump in the car and drive over to the Elms to watch the 1st and 2nd XIIs play rugby. The weather was much kinder in Colwall than up on the Abberley hill and both matches were a pleasure to watch. Good sportsmanship was on show, and although we won, more important was the evident pleasure the children were taking in playing.

All in all it has been a very good few days and a tonic to autumn doldrums. School exams are not far away, but we have an exeat just before, next weekend to get some sleep and sharpen the mind.

Christmas is in the air, but I am not thinking of that yet!

Will Lockett, Headmaster

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