Acts of Kindness

On Wednesday, 198 Wellingtonians performed an incredible act of kindness. 198 members of our Sixth Form added their names to the Anthony Nolan stem cell register – an initiative that has been led, and championed, by Mr Williams. For the majority, this will be the end of the story (statistically, there is only a 1/800 chance of an individual’s stem cells being required) but, at some point in the next 40 years, someone could receive a text message, or an email, or a phone call that could save a life.

When Martin Burke, from the Anthony Nolan Trust, spoke to our Sixth Form last week, he spoke about heroism: he had done his research and had discovered that 15 Wellingtonians had been awarded the Victoria Cross, something which, he said, spoke volumes about our ethos. He was quite right in saying that ‘heroism is built into the DNA of Wellington’; it is inherent in our College motto (‘Virtutis Fortuna Comes’ – ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’) and in our College Value of Courage. The students who signed up to the stem cell register on Wednesday showed extraordinary courage but, in this major act of service, they also showed kindness – and it is kindness that has been our focus this week.

Kindness is the attribute that we place first and foremost among our College Values, and Mr Dahl reiterated this message in assembly on Monday to mark the beginning of national Anti-Bullying Week. This year, Bullying UK’s campaign has been accompanied by the hashtag, #ChooseKindness, and Mr Dahl, aided by Pastoral Prefects, Esther and Joe, used this to deliver a powerful message to the College.

Kindness has the power to transform a community. Like a shield, it has the power to protect us; like a charm, it has the power to keep cruelty at bay. As Mr Dahl said on Monday, ‘… the best way for a school to prevent bullying is to promote and create a school culture where kindness is cherished, valued and celebrated and, as a result, where unkindness and bullying is naturally rejected by pupils and staff in equal measure’.

All week, students and staff have been performing random acts of kindness and, according to scientists, we have all enjoyed a boost of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, as a result. On Friday, we all wore something blue to show our support for the work of Bullying UK. However, as we often say, it is sometimes the smallest gestures that matter the most. Also speaking in Monday’s assembly were Deputy Heads of College, Molly and Ross. They delivered another powerful message, one that they had given to staff the previous week: they encouraged us all to make a conscious effort to smile, to make eye contact, to acknowledge each another around the campus. As William Ward wrote, ‘A warm smile is the universal language of kindness’, and sometimes a warm smile is all it takes to change someone’s day for the better.

To some, this comes naturally but, for others, the act of looking someone in the eye and offering them a smile requires effort. Sometimes, it even takes courage.

Perhaps the real impact is felt when courage and kindness combine.

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