One of the things I have enjoyed most over the last four years has been seeing the growth of the Wellington Community. Fuelled by the enthusiasm and commitment of Mr Lindo and his team, the Wellington Community has burgeoned into a diverse and active network of students, parents, OWs and staff from across our family of schools. With this has come a profusion of connections and conversations, all of which add immense value to the College.

I wish to thank all the parents who have been involved in workshops, conferences, consultations, careers events, and entrepreneurs’ exchanges this year – you have all helped to ensure meaningful channels of communication between the College and the parent body. This reciprocal approach allows us to refine our educational thinking; it creates opportunities for students to explore life beyond school, making them alert to possibilities and excited about the paths they might follow; but, above all, it develops relationships, forges friendships and reminds us that education is one great team effort – students, parents and staff all playing their part.

While being part of the complex narrative of Wellington, each member of our community has their own story to tell and, on Monday, we were delighted to welcome Jo McErlain, mother of Venice (3rd Ap) to assembly. Speaking to a rapt audience, Jo told her story, and shared her dream.

Jo began by talking about Tuesday 6th June1944: D-Day. The day that thousands of soldiers “lost their lives, but not their dreams”; the day that “made our history and our future”. She went on to speak about her late husband, Lt. Col. Mike McErlain: his dream was to commemorate those soldiers who sacrificed their lives to give us the freedom we have today. Mike served in the Army as a Special Forces spine and trauma surgeon. Tragically, he suffered a fatal heart attack while running the Normandy beaches in memory of those who gave their lives on that momentous day in 1944.

He became another fallen hero.

Mike saved thousands of lives and ran hundreds of miles to raise money for soldiers who have lost limbs, have lost their sight, or who are struggling to cope with life outside combat. Jo’s dream is to continue the event Mike started, and to ensure that D-Day is not forgotten.

The Dday44Challenge is a 44-mile run, connecting the five beaches in Normandy where the allies landed on 6th June 1944. The event supports four charities: Blesma (the military charity for limbless veterans), Combat Stress, and Blind Veterans UK. If you would like to find out more, follow this LINK.

I would like to thank Jo again for telling her story, for sharing her dream, and for leaving us with this powerful message: “However big or small, we can all do our bit in life to make a difference”.

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