6th July 2017

We managed to prise one more day out of our very willing volunteer Oscar Salvesen, after he had been helping around school the week before. This was particularly apt as my Monday morning assembly allowed me to display the certificate of appreciation sent to St. Mary’s School by the Vine Trust. This organisation supports widows and orphans in Tanzania and Peru. They provide medical expeditions and eco-friendly home-building expeditions and their mantra is, ‘connecting people to change lives’. They have made a difference to millions suffering severe poverty in the two countries I have mentioned. It was particularly apt that Oscar was with us, because his little sister, Iona, had chosen the Vine Trust as the charity to support, with the £651 raised from Madame Syme and Form 7s French Café. Scottish Land and Estates have developed the Iver Salvesen Green Business Award in memory and recognition of Oscar, Iona, and Henry’s father, who died in Tanzania almost a year ago. 
Soon after assembly, Form 3 headed to East Links Farm on an outing won by them for all they have achieved this year, and later that day mothers took on their daughters in two rounders matches, and fathers and surrogate fathers took on their sons in a cricket match.  Pupil wins 3, fathers and mothers 0! The matches were followed with a BBQ and drinks around the sycamore tree and despite the results, great fun was had by all.
On Tuesday, Mrs Harvey and I had the great pleasure of awarding the Pre-Prep pupils their certificates in the presence of their parents and grandparents. I was able to acknowledge the fantastic progress of each Pre-Prep pupil, and the hard work of Mrs Currie, Miss Renwick, and Mrs Fresle, who have done a sterling job with our 4 – 7-year-old pupils this year.
Later that morning, Pre-Prep took to the stage to perform their musical “The First Kids in Space” which was fabulous. It does not rain on the moon, but sadly it does here in Melrose from time to time, and Mrs Bell looked exasperated, as for the second year in a row, Pre-Prep Sports Day was unable to take place at the scheduled time. However, Mrs Bell is not one to be defeated, and despite being unbelievably busy as she is at this time of year, she rescheduled and successfully ran the Pre-Prep sports day on Wednesday morning. Well done, Mrs Bell.
Mid-afternoon, we had our final assembly, during which I had the privilege of handing out HM Commendations. We thanked all staff and support staff of all descriptions that help run the school, before handing over to Billy Hamilton, Chairman of the Former Pupil Association, to talk a little bit about the Club of which our leavers are becoming members. Mr Hamilton handed out ties and brooches before pupils headed back to tidy up and prepare for the formal prizegiving in the marquee.
Like a scene from the Great British Bake Off, the picturesque front field proved a wonderful setting for the evening ceremony. The Chairman introduced Mrs Althea Dundas-Bekker, who provided the 300+ guests with a moving, thought-provoking, interesting, and wise address on courage. Mrs Dundas-Bekker spoke of her early childhood during the war years, and subsequent experiences, from which she learned there was so much more to understand about individuals and the various roles they performed when carrying out their duties as gunners in the air force. 
As Mrs Dundas-Bekker recalled her memories, you could have heard a pin drop in the marquee, as from the youngest to the oldest, we hung on to her every word. St. Mary’s cannot thank Mrs Dundas-Bekker enough for her wonderful address.
As I write, yet again Mrs Bell is defying the weather by pressing on with our senior sports day, and it would appear the sun is doing its best to reward Mrs Bell for her perseverance and her hard work. Later on today, school will break up at 12:00pm and staff will sit down with our leavers and their parents at Leavers’ Lunch. 
We celebrated the achievements of our Form 8 pupils in our formal prizegiving ceremony, and we wished them well on their journey going forward. There will be bumpy waters ahead, but our Form 8 have learned to get their heads down, paddle hard and push on through to calmer waters. We wish them all the very best.
As ever, the school will have hospitality at Kelso Show on 28th and 29th July, and staff involved in running that will be delighted to see any of the St. Mary’s community, should you wish to pop in. 
Finally, can I wish all pupils, parents and staff of St. Mary’s a very happy holiday, and I look forward to welcoming staff back on 31st August, and the pupils back on Monday 4th September.

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