20th September 2019

With two all-consuming crisis at the forefront of one’s mind, one global (climate change) and one national (the ‘B’ word), few could argue that sporting successes provide therapeutic distraction.  There was much to mention on Monday morning so I did so in a particular order.
We made brief mention of the following;

Grace Broadhead being named Melrose FC’s P3 ‘Player of the Week’
Former St. Mary’s Head Boy and son of Mr and Mrs Bell, Chris, captaining a winning Watsonians XV to victory against Dundee
Mr Inwood featuring strongly in a victorious Edinburgh Accies side who had defeated Jed
On strict instructions from an ‘anonymous’ member of staff, I had been asked to mention Mr Brown’s 90 yard run to the try line in a victory for Melrose over Heriots at Goldenacre.  My source tells me it is already a certainty for try of the season.  Thanks for letting me know, James! 
I then moved to a higher level in paying tribute to Mrs Tait’s son, Liam, who had represented a victorious Scotland in the home nations bowling championships in Southend-upon-Sea over the weekend.  Mrs Tait is rightly extremely proud of her son and congratulations to Liam and the rest of the Scotland team.
Tribute was then paid to the European Solheim Cup team, and in particular Suzann Petterson who, following the birth of her son two years ago, had come out of retirement to sink the winning putt from 8 feet, under the most unbelievable pressure in front of the thousands in the stands at Gleneagles.
However, I highlighted two particular achievements that had been concluded, that will stick in my memory for many years to come.  Former Welsh and British and Irish Lions Full Back, Gareth Thomas had completed his first Ironman (2.4 miles swim, 112 mile cycle, 26.2 mile run) in Tenby on Sunday.  This followed his announcement that his recently diagnosed health profile was bringing further negative scrutiny of his privacy and his freedom to choose a partner with whom to share his life.  His athletic achievement brought in to focus how he and millions of others are judged by narrow minded trolls who believe they have a right to criticise.  A stronger man one could not hope to meet.
The major success closer to home involved former St. Mary’s parent Phil Morris.  As I mentioned in my blog last week, Phil was raising funds for Cash for Kids, a charity that responds to the needs of disabled and disadvantaged young people who suffer abuse or neglect.  The purpose of the charity is to allow these young people to live life to the full and realise their individual potential.  On Sunday, Phil completed the almost impossible challenge of ten Ironman Challenges in ten days.  In those ten days, he swam 380km, cycled 1200km and ran 420km. 
I gave a special mention to nine-year-old Form 5 pupil Gregor A, who had run 27 miles with Phil over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Amazing!
Today, we were treated to a most informative and uplifting assembly from Dr Karen Blackport.  Dr Blackport, mother of Lily and JJ, and wife of Friends of St. Mary’s stalwart Jamie, set about completing an ‘Arctic Adventure’ back in March to raise awareness of Down’s Syndrome Scotland, and to ‘shout to the world how amazing JJ is’, and he is!  Dr Blackport retold her 300km adventure with the use of a power point presentation.  Pupils and staff listened intently as she described the life changing experience of working in tandem with a pack of dogs and a sled amongst a larger group.   This amazing journey went from Signaldalen in

Norway, via the Trinations border between Norway, Sweden and Finland, across stretches of Lapland, finally arriving at the Icehotel at Jukkasjarvii, in Sweden.  However, the experiences along the way that Dr Blackport described to us, illustrated what a courageous, demanding and inspiring journey this had been for her (and her team of five dogs!).  See attached PDF document; this is the piece she wrote for Down’s Syndrome Scotland which describes her experiences with the same pride and enthusiasm on display as she delivered her presentation, this morning.
Between these two assemblies, the week has been jam packed with activities including fixtures, a meeting of the 34 strong Debating Society, a visit from Ampleforth College’s Prep School Liaison representative, Lucy Cruddas and Squad Singing practises. 
All the while, Miss McRae and her team of Mrs Hardie, Mrs Stuart, Mrs Maclay and Mrs Weir have been bringing to a conclusion, months of hard work, preparation and organisation to bring about the ninth Bang Goes the Borders Science Festival on Saturday.  This event sees over a thousand visitors to what is always a fantastic learning and workshop opportunity for anyone who comes along to St. Mary’s.  There are 30 different opportunities thanks to the efforts of Miss McRae, her team and the main sponsors Mirador Analytics and Heriot Watt.  
We are also grateful to small local businesses Burts Hotel, Simply Delicious, Hendersons and Sarah Thomson who have all shown their support for this community initiative in the form of sponsorship.  Thanks also go to all the St. Mary’s staff, pupils and parent volunteer helpers who will assist with the running of the day. 

Mrs Rawson and her boarding team have catered for twenty-two of our seniors boarders to stay over tonight, to help set up for tomorrow.  Their reward will come in the form of an evening of indoor archery at Selkirk and as much pizza as they can eat.
I look forward to seeing you at Bang Goes The Borders.  Bring your sun cream!      

Jules Birdsall, 20/09/2019

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