The View From My Study

On Monday this week, it was the 70th anniversary of the amazing athletic feat by Sir Roger Bannister who was truly an example of how to be humble. Having lived opposite him for six years, I feel I can claim this with a fair degree of insight. He was a pioneer, initially in athletics when he became the first man ever to run a sub four minute mile, and then in the medical field of neurology where he led a distinguished career. It is important to note that he considered his medical work to be far more significant than anything he achieved on the track because of his breakthrough research into the responses of the nervous system.

To the wider world however Sir Roger will forever be remembered for his running and an achievement that transcended sport, let alone athletics. His run came less than a year after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay conquered Mount Everest and both were achievements that spread optimism and aspiration to a post-war Britain still feeling the effects of rationing. Interestingly, there are more people who have climbed Everest than run a mile under four minutes which highlights the difficulty of Bannister’s challenge. Sir Roger would always oblige willingly with starting races for me on Sports Day or at athletics events at Iffley Road in Oxford and his generosity of spirit was always in abundance. And it is this that I remember: the fact that he was such a people person with great humility. His family summed it up best when they said, “He banked his treasure in the hearts of his friends.” Something we should all emulate!

Incidentally, when asked what piece of wisdom he would pass on to a child, Sir Roger answered, “Always read every exam question three times. When I was fourteen I didn’t do that and it cost me dearly.” I hope the 6th Form have been heeding that advice this week as they have started their assessments with their Spanish listening exams and prepare for more over the coming weeks. They certainly seem to have been applying themselves and that is all we can expect.

Headmaster’s Breakfast will be served from 8.15am tomorrow and I look forward to seeing you there. We then welcome prospective pupils to the school for a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ morning so that they can experience some of the things the lucky Biltonians get to do on a regular basis. If I do not see you, have a good weekend!

Gareth Jones, Head

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Ethos & Values

Headmaster’s Welcome