Traditionally, we are approaching that time of the academic year when we – and children in particular – feel at our lowest ebb. As I said last week, snow can be an exciting arrival, but the weather is dark and gloomy, the nights are still closing in all too quickly, and we are all prone to colds, flu and other illnesses – sometimes more than just inconvenient ones. So, it is at times like early February that we need to celebrate the positive aspects of life/ all the opportunities that we have. And, more especially, the rude health that most of us are lucky enjoy. Nothing can bring this into sharper focus than the image of a starving child, a war-torn zone or a tragic story such as those that have been drawn so painfully to our attention recently. A small child falling down a deep well; a professional soccer player disappearing over the English Channel. Such news stories crop up all too regularly. We all catch our breath. And I am sure readers will agree with me when I say that, breathing again, we should all count our manifold blessings.

On this very subject, we enjoyed this week a wonderful house assembly by St Philip’s House. The boys did a marvellous job, focusing us on the gift of life. This thought-provoking presentation was linked to their House Day, which took place today and was designed to raise money for Zoe’s Place. This worthwhile charity is a local establishment that looks after families and young children who have life-limiting illness. Well done to Mr Melia, staff and boys of the house.

Today we welcomed Allister du Plessis from The Leprosy Mission, he gave a Chapel talk on “Shoes”. This will doubtless made us think about children living in other countries, and who suffer from this devastating disease.

I mentioned earlier the gift of opportunity. An excellent illustration of this came last weekend when our Chapel Choir headed off to sing at Leeds Minister and then spend a few days in York. The children had a ball, but more importantly, they shared their talents with the congregation at Leeds Minister. These skills of public performance build confidence and self-esteem, two important elements in the foundation for later life. Thank you to Mr Nicklin, Mrs Redfern, Miss Patel and Miss Akehurst for looking after the children.

I attended a splendid Year One music recital on Tuesday morning. It was lovely to see many of these 5 and 6 year olds start on their musical journey. The focus and sheer love of what they were achieving was evident in their eyes. Well done to all.

Finally I would like to congratulate Henry and Lemuel (both Year 5) for meeting my challenge of learning the Byron poem from last week. When they came to my office, justifiably proud, they were duly rewarded with an edible prize.

I am looking forward to seeing many of you at The Friends’ Quiz night tonight. And incidentally, for anybody who likes a GK challenge on a weekly basis, a good friend of mine recommends the Monday Daily Express crossword. If you win, I will naturally feel entitled to 20 percent of the £1000 cash prize! But meanwhile, and more seriously, have a wonderful family weekend!

MR NOEL NEESON | HEADMASTER