Friday, 9th September 2016
This week is a week of new beginnings and so I'd like to begin at our front door. Every time I enter the main school building, I cannot help being thrilled by what I see. Newly decked in Farrow and Ball paint it sets off beautifully the gleaming brass of the No 3 and the letterbox. Inside, the effect of Jeremy Garson's inspired renovation, aided by the Farrow and Ball experts, is magical, highlighting, as it does, the lovely architecture of our charming building. Dean Liddell, the father of the real Alice (in Wonderland), who commissioned the building, chose his architect well, something which is now abundantly clear as the lovely details of the building are newly highlighted by the careful choice of paint. The colours, most notably in the corridor and the dining room, are based on those to be found in the Christ Church crest. Upstairs the dormitories have been transformed into a magical world of light and colour, reminding us of an up-to-date version of a boy's room from a 1920s country house. I am so thrilled by what has happened over the short period of the summer holidays, Jeremy Garson and his team roaring through like some inverse tornado causing construction and order in a remarkably short time. I cannot speak highly enough of his dedication, his efficiency and his remarkable ability to realise his brilliant vision. Anyhow there will be more on this to come but please, if you haven't had a look, do pop in to see.
I thought it would be useful to summarise some of what I said to pupils at the beginning of term. Please do reinforce any of this with them if you wish to.
"There were two splendid trips which went out over the summer, one to France to see the Battle Sites of the Somme, the other to Northern Italy and to France with the Worcester Choir. On the first trip our boys went to the site of the most terrible day in the life of the British military, the first day of the Battle of the Somme when the British army lost 100,000 men. According to Dr Harskin, the boys demonstrated a genuine understanding of the importance of the place. I am very proud that they did so. It is of the greatest importance that we do take the time to understand the importance of honouring those who have sacrificed their lives in order that we can live in a decent, civilized and free society where the views of individuals are respected and where people are considered to be of the greatest importance rather than just statistics.
The second trip was the Worcester choir trip to Northern Italy and France. I was lucky enough to accompany the boys on this expedition. One of the highlights for me was singing in Nice. We arrived there less than a week after a terrible event had occurred there. On the 14th July, while very many people were happily enjoying celebrating the French National Day, a man in a huge lorry drove at great speed into the crowd scattering the people like toys as they were enjoying a lovely evening out in the sun. His disregard for the lives of those poor people was total. After the very few minutes of destruction he had killed 84 people. To him life was expendable. Less than a week after this we sang in Nice, firstly in our formal concert in the church to which many appreciative people came and then, secondly, in the square right in the centre of Nice where we busked to hundreds of people out enjoying the evening. These two actions in Nice just days apart, one involving a man bent on destroying the lives of those out that night, the other less than a week later, in the same town at the same time of the evening involving a choir of enthusiastic and energetic boys, had an entirely opposite effect. The first brought destruction and misery, the second pleasure and appreciation to those who were out. Nothing could have been more different and I am thrilled that it was pupils from this school who brought so much positivity and pleasure to Nice, so unlike the actions of that immoral individual. We can all be people who improve the world. I want all of you to ensure that you make the world in which you find yourselves a better and happier place. I wish none of you to be the sort of person who acts with cruelty or with disregard of others. I was very proud at the way in which this school appropriately honoured the dead of the Somme and very proud, too, of the way in which it brought some small degree of healing to the people of Nice."
I look forward tremendously to a year of positive achievement, of realised dreams, of fulfilled hopes and of uncontained kindness.