Make it Better

In the summer of 1986, just as his career as a first class cricketer was coming to a close, our Second Master, Mr Dyer, received a phone call from his father. His father had received a call from the then Master of Wellington College. They were short of a Politics teacher. Would his son like to come and teach Politics for a term? Sensing an opportunity, Mr Dyer Senior accepted this offer on his son’s behalf. When he heard the news, Mr Dyer was furious. Why would he want to work in a place that held unhappy memories, a place where, of the current College values, ‘courage’ was the “only one with any real currency”? His father’s reply was a simple one: “Take the job. If things are not right there, make it better”.

Fortunately for Wellington, Mr Dyer took his father’s advice.

One term turned into 99.

And so it came to be that, on Wednesday, at the beginning of his 99th term at Wellington, Mr Dyer, took to the stage and spoke with great pride about the positive changes he has seen over the last 33 years. For him, those changes came down to two key things: the strength of the relationships; and the desire to “be the best that you can be” in whatever you are doing.

Mr Dyer described relationships as being “more grounded, more meaningful and, most importantly, so much more fun” and attributed this positive change to our College values, to the way in which our values were firstly chosen, then enshrined, and then embedded, by the whole community. I have written recently about the way in which our College values increasingly underpin everything we do at Wellington (‘New Boots’); we have also explored the way in which our teaching methods depend on effective collaboration and relationships that are built on trust (‘Tough Love’). Mr Dyer is absolutely right to highlight this connection between relationships and values as something that makes Wellington ‘great’.

In addition to being a wonderful celebration of our College culture, Mr Dyer’s address contained an important message, one that I hope students and staff will carry with them throughout their time at Wellington, and beyond: when there’s a problem, look for solutions; when things are broken, try to repair them; when things are not right, make them better. In other words, be active, not passive, and aim to make a positive difference.

There will be many opportunities to pay tribute to Mr Dyer over the coming term. Some of you will have noticed that his name has recently appeared above the door of our new sports centre: The Robin Dyer Centre. This is a small symbol of our appreciation and gratitude for everything Mr Dyer has done for the College. Of course, his legacy will be so much more than this: as a teacher, as a leader, as a role model, and a friend, his impact on the College has been immeasurable. About one thing there can be no doubt: he has done everything in his power to make things better and he has inspired us all to be the best that we can be.

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