Barbers, Being Well, and Bouncing Back!

The Wellington College musical is always a highlight of the academic year and this year’s production of Sweeney Todd is shaping up to be one of the very best, if this morning’s teaser in Assembly is anything to go by. I would like to extend a very warm welcome to any parent who wishes to come and enjoy the dark tale of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (and hundreds of you have already booked tickets). Don’t settle for a brief excerpt at Speech Day – book your tickets HERE. I can guarantee that you will not regret it!

On the topic of parental support of Wellington events, I hope you will forgive me if I also take this opportunity to thank those of you who attended Saturday’s inaugural Community Mental Health Awareness Day (again, hundreds of you booked tickets). The day was Wellington at its very best: collegial, thought-provoking, challenging, engaging, progressive, and so vitally important as part of a modern education. It was heart-warming to see how invested all Wellingtonians and their parents were in the sessions which I visited, and dozens of you have already told me that the event has opened up the opportunity for you to have conversations with your children which, otherwise, would have been difficult or, even worse, which may never have occurred. Looking after ourselves and each other, and being well, both in body and mind, have never been so important.

Events like these do not happen, however, without significant levels of inspiration and perspiration, and it would be wrong of me not to highlight the Parental Mental Health Committee and Mrs Delyth Lynch, our Deputy Head (Safeguarding) and Mental Health Lead, who worked tirelessly to make Saturday such a success. When Delyth and I discussed our vision for the day back in September, I could not have imagined for one moment that the initiative would turn out as it did. We have already started to think about how we can make the day even better next year and I, for one, can’t wait.

In many ways, Saturday’s success was the perfect tonic following Friday evening’s Times Educational Supplement (TES) Independent School Awards. Wellington was nominated in four categories: Student Initiative of the Year, for the MyWelly app which was designed, programmed and launched by a group of entrepreneurial Sixth Form Computer Scientists; Alumni Engagement, for the ongoing growth of WellyConnect; Sport School of the Year, for the remarkable range and quality of our sporting provision; and Boarding School of the Year, for everything we do as a residential community. Having promised to be live-tweeting all evening from the event, my social media silence spoke volumes as award after award went elsewhere, all to incredibly deserving projects and initiatives at other schools, I hasten to add.

There is a category entitled ‘Wellbeing Initiative of the Year’ at the TES Independent School Awards and it will come as no surprise to you that we will submit an entry in this category next year for our Community Mental Health Day. Reflecting on the success of Saturday’s event, I have no doubt that this will be a strong entry and can only hope that next year’s judges look more favourably upon Wellington’s nomination than this year’s did. We will bounce back!

Finally, may I wish you all a very happy and relaxing half-term break with your families? As ever, this first half of term has flown by, but with a real sense of purpose, camaraderie and ambition characterising everything we have done. Pupils in the Fifth and Upper Sixth Forms will need to dedicate a significant proportion of their half-term to preparing for their mock examinations after the break, but they should balance this with attending to their own wellbeing and restoring themselves following six gruelling weeks of school.

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