The View From My Study – 30th June

There have been so many things going on over the last week it has been hard to keep up.

Last Friday’s 3rd Form production of Mystery at Magpie Manor was magnificent. On Saturday Music & Dreams by the Juniors took us to new worlds; humour, acting, singing and dancing were all on the bill of a wonderful show. This had barely finished before the Summer Fair began, offering everyone the chance, among other things, to throw a wet sponge at the teachers. I couldn’t help but notice the queue suddenly lengthened with teachers paying good money to have a shot at the SLT. Luckily, it was the Deputy Head they were after!

It was a brilliant BBQ for the choristers on Saturday evening before the golfers were at the pavilion, bright and early on Sunday morning, for the inaugural parent and child golf tournament. Monday and Tuesday saw swimming galas and a barn dance, the latter offering Year 3 the chance to say goodbye and yee-ha to Pre-Prep. On Wednesday, the Nesties graduated before it was the turn of the 6th Form leavers to bid farewell, togged up to the nines for their red carpet arrival. That some chose to arrive by motorbike, golf buggy or limousine made it all the more memorable and they ate, drank, surfed and danced until well after the sun had disappeared.

Yesterday the Pre-Prep concert was incredible – lively, fun and accomplished and I really do believe the children when they sing, “We all go to the best school ever.” In the evening, parents and children competed on the cricket and rounders pitches while the boarders enjoyed one final supper on the lawns, courtesy of the local fish and chip shop.

Throw in a superb leavers’ programme and we arrive where we are right now – at the end of a wonderful year, on a final day which has included a thought-provoking Valedictory Service and a celebratory Prize Giving.

The fact that there has been so much on offer is testament to the incredibly hard work of all the teachers and their dedication to ensuring the children have a fun and enjoyable experience to close out the year. I would like to make a public thank you to them all.

We say goodbye to a number of staff today and I would like to record my particular thanks to them. Firstly, Victoria Barker has been back at BG this term supporting the school with English and Geography and I am very grateful. Five of our Gappies, Dylan Grant, Isabella Lawrence Tarr, George Oates, Alex Parker and Alfie Philps, are leaving to take up places at university. They have been an outstanding bunch. Fiona McCreath has taught singing, piano and speech & drama for 18 years and has always brought warmth and humour. George Muston has served just 18 months but what an impact; his influence on the history and cricket has been superb. Jo Philips is currently in Reception but she has taught in the Prep school too, demonstrating her versatility as a gifted, kind and compassionate teacher. And finally, Paul and Helen Nicholson – what can one say about their commitment and passion for the school that isn’t covered by the fact that, between them, they have served the schools – and I include Homefield, the girls’ school that existed in the building that is now the Pre-Prep in this – for 81 years. Quite incredible. Their child-centred and caring approach, not to mention their good humour, eye for detail and consistently high standards, ensure that, as they depart, they are as much a part of the fabric of the school as anyone who has ever worked at Bilton Grange and that is quite an accolade.

And so to those moving on: I hope you have enjoyed your journey on the BG Express. It will shortly be pulling into the station for the summer from where you will need to alight in order to embark on a different adventure; one which, I’m sure, will be just as exciting as this one.

Bon voyage, mes amis!

Gareth Jones, Headmaster

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