What a difference a day makes – this Wednesday being no exception, starting as it did at 7:30am with the Mill Hill School Parents’ Association Foundation Coat Drop and ending 13 hours later as we concluded the Drinks Reception and Presentation for parents of Year 5 and 6 Belmont pupils, who came for an insight into Mill Hill School. As I mentioned in my Foundation Day address, we are a family of Schools in which we look after each other, but also reach out to help others in the wider community. So starting the day by bagging up donated coats with enthusiastic volunteers from the Parents’ Association felt very ‘Mill Hill’, supporting the charity Calling London which was conceived eight years ago when a teacher in a London school noticed that some pupils were coming into school on cold winter days without coats because their families lacked the means to buy them. Over the past two winters Foundation parents have donated over three hundred coats; it warms your heart to think of the good that’s done.
Next came the Sports Leaders in action, Removes (Year 10) instructing children from Grimsdell in trampolining; fantastic to see our pupils being big brothers and sisters and in doing so developing skills of leadership and patience. Having set up the Sports Leaders scheme fifteen years ago, it was wonderful to see what a fine teenager it has become. Then I was pleased to join a lunch in honour of Tim Stringer (Housemaster of Priestley 1976-1983) with a group of Old Millhillians and current staff whose common link is Priestley House (Messrs Plummer, Bickerdike, Searby, Chilton, Armstrong and Lawson); there was much nostalgia but also a sense of excitement about the present and the future. As a natural progression from this meeting, I am pleased to report that Past and Present also came together on Wednesday to plan the refurbishment of the Old Millhillians Room in a way which combines history with technology. Watch this space! Present at the meeting were Past President of the Old Millhillians Club, Andrew Mortimer, former Housemaster of Weymouth, Tony Armstrong, together with the Head of DT, Berinda Banks, and one of her Sixth Form pupils Airi Suzuki (Priestley) as design consultants.
Meanwhile, out in the fresh air our Girls’ 1st XI Hockey team achieved a resounding 5-0 victory over Dame Alice Owen’s School which was celebrated with mince pies and mulled wine. I was pleased to be on the touchline for long enough to see two impressive goals scored. It’s great to see pupils rising to the challenge individually but also working as a team. This term I have also enjoyed meeting our Fourth Form pupils House by House and on Wednesday it was Murray’s turn; ‘what’s great about Mill Hill and what can we do better?’ They are never backward in coming forward when asked searching questions, and certainly gave me plenty to think about.
Which brings us back to the end of the day, in The Large, some 40 families from Belmont came to find out more from me and the Senior Team about what lies ahead in two or three years for their children when they join Mill Hill. Who better to express this, and in doing so with great confidence and charm to demonstrate what makes a Millhillian, than two of our Remove pupils, Ben Bergman (Murray) and Ana Stojanovic (Cedars), whose presentations speak volumes about what makes Mill Hill such a rewarding place to be, wherever you fit into the family tree. And the final words of the evening went to the Co-Chairs of the Parents’ Association, Cindy-Lee Watts and Sharon Martin, who listed the many reasons why they think so highly of Mill Hill and the part it has played in nurturing their own children, and who were also there at the start of this long day, gathering up bin-bags full of coats.