Imagine it is Christmas Day and the extended family is sitting around the dinner table. In this case, the family extends to thousands: Abbotsholmians, Old Abbotsholmians, ghosts of Abbotsholmians past, Governors, Staff and Parents. It must be a very large turkey! As I think about carving the gigantic bird, I reflect on what a wonderful year the family of Abbotsholme has had.
We have invested well in the structure of the school. The Governors, with help from Ebenezer (who might have seemed like Ebenezer Scrooge in the past), have now been able to make sure that we have made good use of our money (like the enlightened Scrooge), most notably on the new library, the improvements we have made to the health and safety of those who use the estate, the relocation of the Geography Department and the refurbishment of the Chapel. The list of works undertaken is breathtaking. I am very grateful for the presents from our older family members, the OA’s, which have helped greatly.
Life at Abbotsholme is not about the number of breaths you take, though, but about the moments which take your breath away, and in all of our investments, our aim is to inspire young people. My proudest moments as Headmaster are reflected in the glories of Abbotsholmians’ achievements – including the trips to South Africa, Costa Rica, and America – and the great expectations and performances on the rugby field and hockey field, in music and in drama. There are also the academic achievements of hard-working students who appreciate the sacrifices that others have made in order for them to come to this great table.
The opportunities on offer - and taken up - at Abbotsholme take my breath away!
Great Uncle Cecil (the Ghost of Christmas Past) mutters from his chair down by the dish of sprouts, ‘You should honour the good of past days, but ever reach after the greater good the future has in store.’ And that is exactly what I endeavour to do. I will continue to work to improve the delivery of the Abbotsholme educational ethos, both by improving the facilities, such as our new Outdoor Education Centre in the Old Gym, and by attracting the best staff to work in our great school.
As I look around the table, I see a great sense of spirit - and it’s not just the brandy! All the members of the family now understand the values of Abbotsholme: having the honesty to admit when you fall short, the humility to want to do better and the courage to do it. Respect and integrity are not only prerequisites for those wishing to be invited to the Christmas dinner, but prerequisites for a happy and successful life, too. I raise a toast to ‘The Ghosts of Abbotsholmians Past, the OA’s, the spirit of Abbotsholme’.
What also pleases me greatly, as I look around the table, is that all of us seated here are healthy in mind, body and spirit. Abbotsholme is both a healthy business and a healthy way of life!
As the Christmas meal draws to a conclusion and just before the year’s work, passion and emotion make slumber inevitable, we should take time to consider our family. Like all families, we have our differences and fall-outs, but at this special time we should put aside foolish ways, bury hatchets and celebrate how fortunate we are. Abbotsholme’s strength is its family atmosphere, and this will never change whilst I am at its head.
Before we finish our meal, the last of our CXX year, I would like to thank all who continue to support this great School, ‘From a grateful School’,
I do hope you will join us!
Glad Day, Love and Duty,