Great Without Ceasing To Be Good

Wellington College’s Drum Corps and buglers might have been forgiven for thinking that they would get a few weeks off following the season of Remembrance, but they were on parade once again at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster last Thursday for a Service of Thanksgiving for Lord Spicer. Michael Spicer had attended Wellington in the late 1950s, became Head of the CCF and Head of College, before Cambridge and a career in the Conservative Party. Danny Wessely (Bl) sounded the Last Post and Reveille to perfection and the Drum Corps – Ben Symons (R), Orlando Getty (Bl), Lucas Hooper (Bl), Allegra Harris (Hn), Jonah Bates (M) and Daniel Bennett (R) – delivered their sombre salute with great poise to a congregation packed full of Conservative Party grandees.

Regardless of one’s personal politics, it was difficult not to be impressed by the sense of occasion. Daniel Hannon MEP delivered a tribute, opening his speech with reference to Karl Marx’s words about Abraham Lincoln – “one of the rare men who succeed in becoming great, without ceasing to be good”  – but it was the first eulogy from Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Miers (OW) which will last longest in the memory. He recalled one occasion when Spicer was Head of College and took umbrage at a decision which the 10th Master, David Newsome, had taken. A strike of the College Prefects was duly organised forcing Newsome to back down and concede to the wishes of his Prefect Body.

The story reminded me of how far we have come in terms of listening to the views and the voice of the pupils. As well as regular Q&A visits to the Houses which the Second Master and I make on an almost weekly basis, I have appreciated greatly the opportunity to listen to Wellingtonians at regular pupil lunches and dinners at the Lodge. This term it has been the turn of the Third and Upper Sixth Forms, the Fifth and Lower Sixth will be invited after Christmas, and I will have a chance to sit down with the Fourth Form in the Summer Term. It may not come as a surprise to you to hear that Wellingtonians are not backward in coming forward with their views about school life! Our Pupil Committees are also up and running, giving Wellingtonians from all year groups an opportunity to discuss issues and propose initiatives across a range of different areas of school life: Sustainability, Mental Health, Student Life (Academic), Student Life (Co-curricular), and Pastoral (Diversity & Inclusion).

One piece of feedback which I received earlier this term from the College Prefects concerned the importance of celebrating significant pupil achievements, both individual and collective, and so I hope you will forgive me for devoting the rest of this Master’s Voice to various items from the past seven days. In the world of the Arts, last week saw a remarkably powerful production of ‘Our Country’s Good’ directed by Ms Brayton. The Christopher Lee Theatre was transformed into an immersive space, claustrophobic at times, for this mature and arresting performance about a 1780s penal colony in New South Wales. The entire cast should be congratulated.

The U14 girls hockey team continue their unbeaten season, having qualified for the South Regional Finals, meaning that they are now just a handful of victories away from reaching the Nationals in the new year. The 1st XV have also retained their unbeaten record by reaching the final of the Champions Trophy for the second consecutive row. This national final will be played on Wednesday 4 December at Allianz Park against Rugby School. Finally, congratulations to Guy Zilberman (R), who has recently been Highly Commended in the Royal Geographical Society & Financial Times essay competition, and also to Ramarni Wilfred (S), who has been selected for the England Debating development squad.

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