Over the past week I have experienced many examples of the School as a community. Last weekend I went to the Old Boys dinner in Oxford. This was a really good evening bringing together a good number of ex-pupils of the School and their partners. I started the evening sitting with a group of our recent leavers and it was fantastic to hear their enthusiasm for both their current university but also the way that they were reflecting back on their time at the School so warmly. Indeed, the passing of only a relatively short time since they left us had given them a sense of perspective to their experiences at the School. The key to many of them had been the teachers who had worked with them and inspired them. Later in the evening I spoke to some of the ‘older’ contingent and it was amazing just how much they had in common with the younger ones. They too still felt a strong bond to their school but also had their own memories of the staff who had done so much to inspire them. It was great to see just how interested they were in the School today and the sense of community was very evident.
Later in the week I met with the mother of a young old boy who very sadly lost a battle with cancer just prior to his twenty-first birthday. She has been a long-term supporter of the School so I was delighted to be able to help with her fundraising campaign for the Teenage Cancer Trust – more on this in a future post. Again this was a really positive example of the wider school community at work. We are currently developing the concept of a ‘community for life’ to link the School back to our ex-pupils, ex-staff, the parents of boys who have left, together with the current pupils and parents. I hope that these sorts of links can be developed so that over generations people will stay connected with the School.
On Friday we were visited by the new Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham who was undertaking a ‘Pilgrimage by Tram’ to link into his new community. He came into school to have lunch with a number of boys involved in our own community action programme as well as with boys of all faiths. It was good to meet him and be able to explain to him how we link into our own community. Soon we have a field day when a large number of boys will go into local schools and help at various locations to give something back to the Nottingham community.
I think that the key point in all this is that together we are so much stronger than we are individually. The term ‘Old Boys Network’ is often used in derogative terms but the purpose of any community surely has to be to support each other, to remain good neighbours and friends and to help out the less fortunate members of that community. We all belong to many communities, at school, at home and in the wider world. Perhaps we should all reflect on the contribution we make to the communities we are connected to. And if there are any Old Boys of Nottingham High School out there reading this who have not been in touch for a while do contact us, we’d love to hear from you.