Not only did the sun shine down on Foundation Day last Saturday, but it did so with such energy that the afternoon’s activities felt more like a summer garden party than an autumn event. Whether this should be read as an omen of climate change, or symbolic of the many causes for us to celebrate as a School, we can only guess; it certainly contributed to what many were calling ‘The Best Foundation Day Ever’. And as I catalogued in my Foundation Day Speech, we have been making much hay as the sun has shone: 182 prizes were awarded to pupils from across the age range, and the pupils’ suggestion of creating an Unsung Hero prize in recognition of ‘going above and beyond’ reflects our community’s instinct for inclusion and for fairness. There has been much exciting development of our facilities too, including the newly created Wellbeing Wing and the freshly redecorated Octagon and Old Millhillians Room.
It was a particular honour and delight to be able to welcome former Head of Mill Hill School, William Winfield, and formally to acknowledge the opening of our new Day House, Winfield House, immortalising his legacy in a career here spanning 37 years. I was pleased to be able to conclude my speech with a quote from one of William’s own, in which he recognised Mill Hill’s unchanging belief that education is about ‘learning to live’ as well as ‘learning to learn’, and this could not have been better exemplified than in Old Millhillian and Guest of Honour, Leanne Armitage, whose unaffected and moving account of her remarkable journey from Sixth Form Bursary recipient, to medical student, to winner of the Queen’s Young Leader Award presented us all with the challenge of how we, in our own way, could bring about transformation – in our lives and the lives of others.
This theme was taken up in this week’s Chapel Services in which the Chaplain, Dr Warden, gave examples of the ways in which transformation can start from a small gesture of initiative or selflessness and grow to a global or timeless scale, from the miracle of the Feeding of the Multitude with its possible interpretation of the ‘ripple effect’ of generosity, to the passionate concern for the environment of school girl, Greta Thunberg, who condemned world leaders only this month in an emotional speech at the United Nations. Our own pupils, led by the Eco Society, did their bit for environmental awareness, organising events for Recycle Week, most visibly evidenced in the form of a giant, inflatable turtle made from 100% recycled and recyclable plastic which appeared on Top Field one lunchtime. The looks on the faces of the smaller members of our Pre-prep, Grimsdell, at the sight of the minibus-sized Eco Turtle, were something to behold!
Taking one further example from this week’s Chapel Services, the alleged invention of the sport of rugby by William Webb Ellis in 1823, I would encourage all Millhillians to ‘pick up the ball and run with it’, finding your own transformative goals.