Matthew Burns

THE NEW HEAD OF SCHOOL, JOHN CAMPBELL, ON SEDBERGHIAN SPIRIT

John Campbell, our new Head of School, is still getting to grips with the success he enjoyed in his Lower Sixth. So much so that he almost feels guilty about it. It isn’t surprising to hear, though, that last year’s Wilson Run winner was chosen by peers and staff, and finally the Headmaster, to hold the prestigious position he had aspired to for a long time. 

Headmaster Andrew Fleck said: “John Campbell has all the qualities of leadership – integrity, ambition and personality. He is a senior pupil that others look up to and respond to so he was a natural choice to be Head of School. Emilia Tyser, who was asked to be Deputy Head of School, has impressed throughout her time in the School – firstly on the pitch and then in her attitude to study. She is a role model for young pupils.”

John, who goes by his preferred name Johnny, comes from the Wolds in Lincolnshire; in his words, ‘the hilliest part of what is probably the flattest county in the UK.’ Here since 2012 his first experience of Sedbergh was a Summer Courses Hockey coaching residential in 2012, which he attended with his brother Archie.

He says: “Both of us were really impressed by the setting of the School. Our older half-brother had boarded at Winder House and my dad knew the School and town from his years working as a GP in Kirkby Stephen. I thought it was an awesome place for a school, with the fells on the doorstep.

I’m used to being part of a big family, which is what Sedbergh feels like, because I’m the youngest of a family of five, and I am already an uncle to six nieces and nephews, so I’ve been keen to look out for younger or new pupils.

I always wanted to be a prefect and Mr. Hattam, my Housemaster, advised me to take up any opportunities I could for leadership roles, to never be afraid to put my hand up and get involved, helping with third formers, volunteering to lead teams in the CCF and also on Lower Sixth Team Building, things like that.”

Johnny is taking Maths, Physics and Chemistry this year in the Upper Sixth and in his Lower Sixth he also studied Geology and EPQ, studying how birds of prey have influenced flight technology. “I like long bows and archery and I would love to have my own birds of prey one day. I’m not sure what the future holds for me but I’m drawn to the camaraderie of the Forces, and think Sedbergh sets you up very well for that kind of life.

I’m interested in Engineering and Science degrees; if I did Medicine I would be the fourth Dr. Campbell, taking the family plaque that has been passed down. I’m also tempted by universities in America and Canada because it will give me a wider view of the world, I can make more friends abroad, and because my favourite character from one of my favourite series of books went to university at Harvard. I hope to take a Gap year, and will plan to travel to the US or Canada during that time.”

In his role this year, Johnny has several major things that he really wants to achieve: “Obviously I want to support any charity events and get involved with the Prep School, and possibly look at organising a School vote on the EU Referendum, following in the footsteps of Tom Robinson and the Mock Election he organised last year.

I would also like to raise awareness of how important our overseas pupil community is, and to organise events that remind everyone of the scale of challenge involved in settling into life in a different culture and living with a new or a second language.”

Johnny began this academic year running in the Great North Run with his friend George Porter. “George ran for Parkinson’s UK and I ran for Cancer Research, and we were fairly distinguishable, dressed as inflatable cowboys on horseback!

We expect to have raised just under £1,000. The next major running challenge will be this year’s Wilson Run, when I really hope to beat last year’s time. Many factors can affect the race as the day is so unpredictable and that is one of the reasons why I love the day of the Ten so much; no-one knows what will happen – that’s the magic of it, and it has to be taken in its stride. You can only train as hard as you can!” 

“Being a Sedberghian, to me, is being part of a huge group of people who share the mentality of participation, of jumping in and embracing things, not being afraid, not complaining – getting on with things and finding or channeling inner drive and just getting things done.

I think it was my brother Archie who said to me, ‘You don’t ask for a lighter burden, but broader shoulders’, and it was he who I called in New Zealand last March, just an hour or two before the Wilson Run.” 

Emilia Tyser, Deputy Head of School, from Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, returned to School this term after her first visit to Africa with the team who worked with Restart African in July.

Emilia, also Captain of the senior 1st XI hockey team, said: “One of the first things I have done in my role is to encourage, with the help of our sports teachers, more support for girls sport from the boys. I’m also looking forward to visiting the Year 9s in each House as the term progresses.

I want them to know that I am here for them to talk to about anything. I also plan to be supporting various pupil-led fundraising drives. I was delighted to be given this responsibility and, with such a strong prefect body, I believe that Johnny and I will be able to make the impact we hope to in these roles.”

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