I could not imagine a more rewarding, productive and enjoyable first ever trip to the States than my recent visit. I gained a fascinating insight into how an educational agent workshop operates, having participated alongside our Registrar, Tony Binns, at the ICEF event in Long Beach, California, with two full days of pre-scheduled appointments with over 30 agents from 20 countries and a day of seminars. Over the past five years, with the launch of The Mount, Mill Hill International and an upscaling of Mill Hill School’s own overseas recruitment, we have attended over 20 such events each year and built a strong Mill Hill brand in a wide range of markets. Whereas the 2014 boarding intake drew on just three overseas markets in which we were represented by only nine active agents, by 2019 this had risen to 18 markets and 38 agents.
Although this insight into the world of boarding recruitment was invaluable, the highlight of the visit was certainly the Old Millhillian dinners which took place in Soho House in West Hollywood and Seven Hills restaurant in San Francisco. There was a symmetry about the dinners, each attracting four OMs plus one partner, and at each event there was a range of OM vintages and a real buzz of enthusiastic nostalgia and sharing of anecdotes. It was also wonderful that at both events there were former pupils of mine, whom I had known either in the classroom or in my capacity as Principal Deputy Head with responsibility for pastoral care. I was deeply moved to hear how big a part the gathered OMs felt their years at Mill Hill had played in their future successes and in the shaping of their characters. It was also uplifting to feel the camaraderie around the table through our shared Millhillian connection, summed up in a text message from one guest after the dinner, “I was just reflecting last night over coffee; it says a lot when seven pretty much strangers sit down to dinner and have such a wonderful time … we all have such a special bond.” The fact that the Seven Hills restaurant is owned and managed by Old Millhillian, Alex Solomou (pictured below), made the event feel even more special, and with true Millhillian dexterity he managed to combine running his busy and stylish restaurant that evening with joining us for occasional reminiscences and toasts, to Mill Hill School, which were generously ‘on the House’. At the same San Francisco dinner we were also delighted to be joined by Charles Roberts, whose grandfather founded our Prep School, Belmont, and whose father was its Headmaster; he can make the unique claim that his time at Belmont started at birth!
I look forward greatly to attending the OM dinners in New York and Toronto in the Easter holidays with my husband, Raul; never have I been more fully aware of the international reach of Mill Hill, or of the fond and enduring legacy of their school days which lies in the hearts of the Old Millhillian community.