Parents 

21st February 2020

Over the blustery half-term break, I had the privilege of meeting Councillor David Parker and his wonderful guide dog, Clive.  Councillor Parker and I spoke of the ambitious plans we here at Abbey Park have for St. Mary’s School and I found his advice and input helpful and energising. 
 
Meeting someone with very little eyesight but a keenly tuned ear can be, as I found with Councillor Parker, an uplifting experience.  Sunday evening’s ‘Call the Midwife’ story line surrounded a blind mother to be, who faced having her new-born baby taken in to care.  The drama series is set in the 1950s and 60s in the East End of London and the central nurse midwives are part of an Anglican religious order, based in a convent.
 
In talking to the school on Monday, I listed some of the issues addressed in the series; baby boom, poverty, post-war immigration, child migrants programme, racial abuse, local community, illness and disease epidemics, disability.  It struck me as I spoke that these topics (and several other more adult themed topics I omitted to mention) are nearly all applicable to the world we live in today, sixty to seventy years on.  However, the main purpose of my address was to focus on ‘Nurse Jenny’s’ framed voice over to conclude the happy ending to the episode I had watched the night before.
 
‘There are always challenges in life.  There are pieces to put together, plans to lay and progress to be made.  Sometimes there are no prizes, no medals to be won, no trophy for the shelf (or scholarship for the board).  A reward comes as a smile, a touch, or a dawning sense that all will be well; that the future is smiling and opening its arms.  And so we take courage or it is given to us with a squeeze on the hand or a pat on the back, and the magical words ‘I believe in you’.  

I felt these words were well timed as we move in to scholarship season, and several of our pupils, and staff are stretched well beyond comfortable.  An additional message that feeling sorry for one’s self can be a most subjective and stifling characteristic was equally important to impart.Over the blustery half-term break, I had the privilege of meeting Councillor David Parker and his wonderful guide dog, Clive.  Councillor Parker and I spoke of the ambitious plans we here at Abbey Park have for St. Mary’s School and I found his advice and input helpful and energising. 
 
Meeting someone with very little eyesight but a keenly tuned ear can be, as I found with Councillor Parker, an uplifting experience.  Sunday evening’s ‘Call the Midwife’ story line surrounded a blind mother to be, who faced having her new-born baby taken in to care.  The drama series is set in the 1950s and 60s in the East End of London and the central nurse midwives are part of an Anglican religious order, based in a convent.
 
In talking to the school on Monday, I listed some of the issues addressed in the series; baby boom, poverty, post-war immigration, child migrants programme, racial abuse, local community, illness and disease epidemics, disability.  It struck me as I spoke that these topics (and several other more adult themed topics I omitted to mention) are nearly all applicable to the world we live in today, sixty to seventy years on.  However, the main purpose of my address was to focus on ‘Nurse Jenny’s’ framed voice over to conclude the happy ending to the episode I had watched the night before.
 
‘There are always challenges in life.  There are pieces to put together, plans to lay and progress to be made.  Sometimes there are no prizes, no medals to be won, no trophy for the shelf (or scholarship for the board).  A reward comes as a smile, a touch, or a dawning sense that all will be well; that the future is smiling and opening its arms.  And so we take courage or it is given to us with a squeeze on the hand or a pat on the back, and the magical words ‘I believe in you’.  

I felt these words were well timed as we move in to scholarship season, and several of our pupils, and staff are stretched well beyond comfortable.  An additional message that feeling sorry for one’s self can be a most subjective and stifling characteristic was equally important to impart.
 
Whether these words struck a chord with senior pupils or not, I felt it set the tone for the second half of this extremely busy term.  Common Entrance Science clinics got underway this week, debaters prepared for prep school competition, gadget club ran during Thursday lunchtime and much loved and highly valued members of the school gathered for the A.G.M. which preceded a hugely productive Board meeting.

It was a particular pleasure welcoming Sandy and Maude Brownlie who called in to remind us all how much St. Mary’s means to them both.  Sandy whose father, son and grandsons attended St. Mary’s, was here between 1942- 1948.  His love of the place is reflected in the generosity he and Maude consistently demonstrate towards the school.
 
This morning Mr Purvis selected the Form 8 boys to deliver a super assembly on Squad competition. Their presentation included photos of the various elements of this important aspect of life at St. Mary’s, as the boys talked through all that goes on.  The huge variation in how everyone can contribute to their Squad was on full display and it served as a reminder that the competition is not just about the best performers in different disciplines.  This served as a pre-cursor to this afternoon’s Squad cross-country competition, from which I have just returned, and the courage and endeavour from ALL participants suggests the Form 8 boys effectively put across this message this morning.
 
Finally, two Durham related ‘bookends of the week’ to celebrate came in the form of Liam Nicholson, son of Mrs Tait starring for the winning Scotland Under 25s bowls team in the home internationals tournament in Durham last weekend.  And as the week has concluded, huge congratulations go to Alexander NN who we heard has been awarded a King’s Scholarship to Durham School.
 
I hope the weather improves for you all at the weekend.
 

 
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