The Half-term That Was

Rab Butler famously said that a week was a long time in politics so the three-week hiatus since my last Master’s Voice represents something of an eternity…and how much has happened since then, both inside and outside RG45! The days before half-term saw Wellington College morph into the streets of Edinburgh as we hosted our own WellyFringe Arts Festival. Pop-up concerts and exhibitions seemed to be taking place everywhere as spaces such as the Dining-Hall, boarding Houses and Master’s Lodge were converted into performance spaces for this celebration of the Arts. It was an inspiring and uplifting way in which to segue into half-term…

…although there was no rest for many of our staff and pupils when half-term did arrive: the Chapel Choir immediately flew off to Germany for a musical odyssey performing in the footsteps of J.S.Bach; those Wellingtonians interested in US Universities headed off to the East Coast for a week of visiting various Colleges; the boys of the Blucher conducted their biennial service trip to partner school Tiger Kloof in South Africa; the Peace and Conflict Institute returned to Rwanda for another profoundly moving yet uplifting visit; the basketballers headed back to Spain for an immersive sports tour of Valencia; the rackets and real tennis players headed to Manchester on tour; and the Senior Boys Rugby squad travelled to St Joseph’s Tournament in Ipswich where they won arguably the most gruelling school-boy competition of them all. And that’s not to mention the Oxbridge admissions tests on 30 October which so many of our Upper Sixth (and OWs) took last week in their quest to win places at these institutions. For many Wellingtonians, this October half-term reflected life during term time: a confluence of wonderful opportunities both to enrich oneself – academically, physically and culturally – and also to serve others.

The work of the Wellington College Peace and Conflict Institute never fails to impress me and their trip to Rwanda was another deeply moving yet powerfully uplifting experience. This is a country which, just 25 years ago, witnessed one of the worst genocides in global history. But the way in which that country has committed to a process of reconciliation and has therefore been able to heal and move forward positively is an inspiration to us all. I am sure that none of those Wellingtonians who spent a week in Rwanda over half-term will ever forget the people they met, the things they saw or the stories they heard. We have a lot to learn in the West from the story of Rwanda.

It would also be wrong of me not to highlight the remarkable achievement of the 1st XV rugby squad who won the St Joseph’s Tournament over half-term. The tournament sees 16 of the best rugby schools in the country come together for a seriously intense weekend of matches and it was, until two weeks ago, the only national rugby title which Wellington has not won. It is, of course, a cause of great pride to me that we have now become the first school ever to have won the U18 Schools Cup, the Champions Trophy, the Daily Mail Trophy, the Rosslyn Park 7s, and now, the St Joseph’s Festival…but what makes me even prouder is the manner in which this year’s Senior rugby boys have conducted themselves on and off the pitch.

Finally, it gives me great pleasure to announce that I have appointed Mr Iain Sutcliffe as the College’s new Deputy Head (Co-curricular). Iain read PPE at Queen’s College, Oxford, where he won Blues in both cricket and boxing.  He has an MBA in International Organisations, is a governor of Enko Benga International School, Mozambique and is co-founder of the Young African Leadership Programme, a registered charity that supports innovative African schools as they seek to support, teach and inspire the next generation of African leaders.  Amongst his many accomplishments, Iain scored over 12,500 First Class and List A runs for Lancashire CCC and Leicestershire CCC, and was part of the County Championship winning side in 1998. He held the title of British Universities Light-Middleweight champion and has Grade 7 on the piano. Following his career as a professional cricketer, Iain joined Wellington in September 2010 as an Economics and Politics teacher before becoming HM of the Murray in September 2012. Iain has been Assistant to the Second Master for the past 12 months, a role which he will continue to fulfil until the end of this term when he will formally move into his new role.

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