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Headmaster's Blog - Friday 10th November

Dear Parents

I hope that everyone has enjoyed a great half term holiday and that your children are suitably recharged for the final push towards Christmas – no doubt reindeers will start appearing in shop windows soon…The Newman family played host to a steady stream of visitors from down south and enjoyed the chance to show off our new views from the back door – stunning!

At the time of writing, we are in the midst of the inspection that you know was called this week. Thank you for all the responses to the parental questionnaire and I promise to share the significant results with you once I am able. The process has come at a good time for both me and the School, helping us to make sure that we are in good health and able to remain focused on the next chapter.

My assembly this week was centred around Remembrance Sunday, which is being held at Sedbergh School this weekend. I began by looking at memory itself, playing a few games to test what is known as ‘working memory’. Sam Burns blew us all away by reciting the alphabet backwards just as fast as many would manage from A to Z!

The casualty rate during the Great War was so huge, it can sometimes be hard for the younger children to appreciate what that means in human terms. At our assembly, we decided instead to celebrate the life of one Old Sedberghian, Billy Johnstone, and I hope that extent of the total sacrifice was made more real as a result.

Billy went to Sedgwick House between 1907 and 1910, where he excelled at swimming and shooting. No doubt, he slept in dorms and ate at tables that will soon be shared by some of our Prep School boys. Billy served as Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery and died in action at Armentières on 12th February, 1916. He was 23 years old.

Shortly after being told to cease fire by his commanding officer, in case they were spotted by an enemy aircraft overhead, a shell exploded near Billy and a piece of shrapnel tore through his shoulder and into his heart. His death was blessedly quick, though he survived long enough to be held in his officer’s arms, where he smiled and then passed away.

The service and casualty rates at Sedbergh School, relative to numbers, were amongst the highest of any public school at the time. Billy’s story and those of the other 256 Old Sedberghians who lost their lives in WWI, plus details of the wonderful OS Club Pilgrimage, can be found at http://pilgrimage.sedberghschool.org/. They are in turn both inspirational and heart-breaking.

At tomorrow’s simple Armistice Service at the Prep School, we will celebrate the remarkable career of Captain Richard Brisco. It is also our second Open Morning of the week and there will be tea and coffee available in the library should any parents wish to join us at 10.50am on the Headmaster’s Lawn.

With very best wishes

Will 

Posted in: Headmaster's Blog

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