18th January 2019
Having received information about a fantastic fund raising total from one of our Form 8s, it seemed appropriate to precede the details with an assembly about a relative of this same pupil. If you are ever asked to give an example of audaciousness, just tell the story of Sir Thomas Macpherson of Biallid. Amongst his phenomenal talents as a scholar, sportsman, captain of industry and soldier, Thomas also showed remarkable resilience in rising from his sick bed in his early teens, having been struck down with osteomyelitis, a painful and debilitating infection of the bone marrow, to make a full recovery and contribute significantly to the war effort of the Allied Forces at the end of the Second World War.
Sir Thomas Macpherson perpetrated the most amazing bluff of the war by commandeering a German jeep, and driving through a 23,000 strong column of battle-hardened German troops moved northwards to the Normandy bridgehead from Toulouse. The 23-year-old Scot wore his full uniform, kilt and all, drove through ten miles of German troops and pulled up at the Das Reich field headquarters, to confront their stunned commanding officer Major General Elster. Macpherson demanded surrender, claiming that 20,000 crack troops were stationed ahead and RAF bombers were primed ready to attack the convoy; none of which was true. However, General Elster duly surrendered and Macpherson had pulled off the most audacious bluff of the Second World War.
Sir Thomas Macpherson died in November 2014 but 4 years later, his relative Lucy took to the streets of Melrose busking to raise funds for the Radio Borders Cash for Kids 500 Faces initiative. Lucy aimed to raise £100 and succeeded in raising £677.92 thus being able to contribute in making Christmas so much more enjoyable for many underprivileged living in the Scottish Borders. These included a little boy who lives with cerebral palsy. Lucy’s fund raising effort led to the purchase of a specialist piece of medical equipment that helps this young man walk. Though a much less understated contribution to society, Lucy’s courage in taking to the streets and determination to help others is comparable to Sir Thomas Macpherson’s courage and daring.
A busy week unfolded with winter sports photographs taking place, junior and senior rehearsals moving into the next phase, and on Wednesday, whilst a busy fixture programme got underway, care inspectors arrived to visit Kindergarten. They were made to feel very welcome and spent two days enjoying the routine of our youngest members of St. Mary’s school community and our brilliant staff who deliver the experience of the highest quality. Our two inspectors proved constructive, supportive and appreciative. We are grateful for the feedback they have provided and they see our Kindergarten facility as having major strengths that have led to it being graded as “very good”. As buses involved in fixtures came and went, Dr Morgan and Miss McRae headed off to Ampleforth with a Form 6 Maths team, to take part in a Maths workshop. We are very grateful to Ampleforth who not only put on this appealing event but also hosted our team of pupils and staff overnight.
From 5 benefited from the second visit of Ellie from Borders Youth Theatre, as she delivered drama workshops, and she will continue to do so for the next few weeks.
Whilst the political climate and uncertainty surrounding our country’s future sit at the forefront of many of our minds, it is wonderful therapy to close the doors of the Morrison Hall and spend time listening to Form 8 talk to the school, about the very essence of St. Mary’s and all that makes this school special. With many examples given, Form 8 described how our values underpin everything we do and that these values should stay with us for the rest of our lives. I found myself thinking that many of our highest profile politicians would do well to listen to our oldest pupils and to follow their example.
Finally, we have accepted notice of Madame Syme’s retirement at the end of this academic year after 21 years of outstanding service in the teaching of French and contribution to life at St. Mary’s. The quest begins to replace a member of the teaching staff held in the highest regard by colleagues, parents and pupils past and present.
Have a good weekend.