This week I have had the incredible privilege of meeting some truly outstanding young people. Our Sixth Form Scholarship candidates have inspired us with their personal reflections whilst they grappled with existential philosophical questions and real-life dilemmas. They have shared their thoughts on the environment, Brexit and a host of other contemporary issues. Our candidates are well-read, thoughtful, creative and caring. They are aspirant and intent upon pursuing careers as varied as actuarial science, aeronautical engineering and sports journalism. What energy and what vigour! This year we have more applicants than ever before and I am tremendously encouraged that so many young people want to join the Lower Sixth in September 2020.
What has really impressed me has been the number of candidates who have demonstrated a real resolve to make a positive contribution to this community. Both internal and external candidates have been eager to explain what they would like to contribute to our community.
We explored themes such as independence and freedom and how such concepts relate to Sixth Form education. It is right that Sixth Formers are afforded a good degree of independence and this should be accompanied by opportunities to develop leadership skills. Outstanding Sixth Forms such as Rossall provide a context within which young people have the opportunity to gain experience running societies, mentoring younger children and taking an active role in the future development of their School community. The opportunities to contribute to the intellectual, cultural and sporting life of a community is just as important as what occurs in lessons, workshops and seminars. Universities and employers increasingly favour applicants who demonstrate attributes such as confidence, resilience, courage and a desire to serve others. The workplace needs creative thinkers not repositories of knowledge. Similarly, society needs people who are caring and compassionate communicators not accomplished and highly refined automatons.
Such skills are never more necessary than for those working in the NHS. Yesterday morning, one of our daughters needed a very minor operation. On the scale of surgical interventions, it ranked pretty low but I did find myself becoming increasingly anxious as the doctor ran through the list of possible complications before requesting that I signed the consent form. As our daughter’s little figure disappeared around the corner into the operating theatre, I felt overcome with emotion and worry.
All parents love their children but there are little moments when this love hits you with a force which is so intense that you feel almost powerless. At such moments we put complete trust in others. Perhaps that was easier to do when we were younger, but I have now got to that stage in life when those ‘others’ are often much younger than me. Several thoughts struck me yesterday morning. First of all, the kindness of the student nurses at the Royal Preston Hospital took my breath away. I have no idea whether they were amazing at the theoretical aspect of their studies but their kindness towards Caitlin melted my heart. They were incredibly reassuring and empathetic and, as a society, we should feel incredibly grateful that such wonderful young people are prepared to dedicate their lives to serving the NHS. Many Rossall students enter the medical profession and that is something which we should celebrate at every opportunity.
Secondly, it made me reflect upon the number of Rossall families who cope with the long term illness of a child or a family member. They do so with a level of courage which I think many of us would struggle to emulate. If I compare my own parental anxiety over something minor with the bravery routinely demonstrated by others, then I find it impossible not to be humbled and inspired in equal measure. The greatest privilege of being part of Rossall is the opportunity to be part of a community that contains so many outstanding individuals.
As we approach Christmas, I find myself reflecting upon our responsibility to support those who struggle against adversity here on the Fylde Coast. I am looking forward to attending MADD Night on Saturday. Once again, our boys and girls are supporting the fantastic work of Donna’s Dream House. We are very proud of our longstanding association with this Blackpool Charity. There are few people on the Fylde more inspiring than Len and Barbara Curtis. They have created something quite beautiful in memory of their daughter and their charity has drawn upon the support of local businesses, hoteliers, nightclub owners, shopkeepers, cafe proprietors and many kind-hearted local people who work tirelessly to ensure that children with life-threatening or terminal illnesses can enjoy a holiday with their families. Please do come and support this event if at all possible.
This Christmas we will be making a donation to Donna’s Dream House and this is in lieu of sending Christmas cards from School. This donation of £800 will be added to whatever is raised on MADD Night.
Finally, I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend the school production of ‘The Government Inspector’ yesterday evening. We took the show on the road to the Little Thornton Theatre. There were many outstanding performances and Mr Newell should be very proud of this production. All those who participated should also feel very proud indeed.