28th May 2021

The Borders is the most wonderful place to explore.  Even favourite walks in the familiar picturesque surroundings we have on our doorsteps, now and then reveal warm surprises and reminders that the Borders is as much about its people, as it is about gorgeous scenery and proud history. 
Sir Walter Scott the famous nineteenth century poet and writer, is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s most influential people of all time, and of course, he was the immediate neighbouring landowner of Captain Steadman who first owned Abbey Park, now our proud little prep school called St. Mary’s!
Oscar, Cooper and I had a walk in the grounds of Abbotsford last weekend; a walk that I have enjoyed in the summer evenings for a number of years now.  To my surprise, Cooper, our now 6-month-old Jack Russell/Terrier pup drew my attention to a plaque quietly acknowledging two other great Borders people, Russell and Liz Sanderson.  I will have leaned against this plaque many a time, without recognising this.  Their tribute; ‘I’ve seen Tweed’s silver streams glittering in the sunny beams’ features on a cleverly sited bench whose occupants will indeed enjoy that very privilege on sunny summer evenings.
Russell, a Former Pupil of St. Mary’s and his wife Liz have been ardent supporters of St. Mary’s their entire adult lives as parents, governors and regular welcome visitors.  They have also been instrumental in the restoration and development of Abbotsford in to one of Scotland’s finest visitor attractions.  It was most calming and relaxing to rest on their bench, and to remember that their good name will always be a part of St. Mary’s and Abbotsford history, long after they are gone.  I am pleased to report, they are not only alive and well today, but keeping us all on our toes with their wisdom, guidance and love for St. Mary’s.
The Sandersons love seeing St. Mary’s pupils out and about, and had they been shopping for fruit and veg on Monday, they might well have bumped in to Mrs Rawson and Form 1 who were visiting the grocers as part of their healthy eating and international foods project.
Had the Sandersons been in Wooplaw Woods on Tuesday, the weekly invasion of red boiler suited Kindy pupils might have disturbed the peace somewhat.  However, they would have been the first to help with the ‘lost wellie’ that features in a photograph later in this newsletter.
It was exhilarating for pupils and games staff to have our first fixtures for 144 days on Wednesday.  Loretto girls visited Abbey Park to play netball and rounders, and our 1st XI headed for Mowden.  Our girls won their matches and our boys lost, but frankly, who cares?  It was just an absolute pleasure seeing fixtures taking place again, and all three schools involved shared those feelings of joy.

Ahead of the school initiative set for Friday (the brainchild of Grace in Form 3), Pre-Prep pupils and staff all wore one block of colour on Thursday, and paid £2 for the privilege of doing so  This was ahead of a most successful trip to Harestanes today on which a colourful report will feature on the website in due course.  The middle and senior school pupils and staff also supported this charitable endeavour, which is in aid of Akshaya Patra, a charity that provides food for economically poor children.  This support in turn allows these children to continue with their education.  Our much-loved families in the school who have relatives and friends in India chose this charity and our thoughts have been with them all in recent months.  The total raised so far (and rising) is £350.

Russell and Liz Sanderson are well travelled, and I am sure they will be delighted to hear St. Mary’s is reaching out to other schoolchildren, not just in India but also in Nepal and Malawi through other on-going initiatives.  The school is proud to do so.

Jules Birdsall, 28/05/2021

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