Headmaster's Blog Archive

Summer Gets Underway

Monday, April 25, 2016 by Richard Biggs

This has been, for me, a rather disrupted start to the Summer Term. I have spent most of the first week commuting back and forth between Taunton and London – four trips in all. Two meetings, an OA reunion and a trip to return my father to Heathrow airport. All important, but it is lovely to wake up on a sunny Saturday morning and contemplate a whole weekend of not going to London.

The OA reunion was the annual lunch of the 40s and 50s Club. Yesterday’s lunch, for the first time, also included the 60s (ie OAs who left the school in the 1960s), which added a youthful vigour and new perspective to the gathering. It was huge fun, with old friends reminiscing about their times at King’s and enjoying a school-dinner-style meal of steamed pudding and trifle.

My father, who lives in Cape Town, had been with us for two one-week stretches, on each side of a two week stay in Calgary with my sister. It was good to have him here both during holiday and term time. A highlight for him was the bi-annual school photograph on Thursday. I don’t think that process has changed in a century and it always impresses me, as it did him, how well the photographer and crew manage the hordes of pupils and staff. We took Dad to all the usual West Country haunts – Lyme Regis, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Sheppey’s Cider farm, Wells Cathedral. He even managed to take in a pre-season cricket match on our 1st XI ground. Apparently he got back to atrociously wet and windy weather in Cape Town. Ha. Poor chap.

In the final week of the holidays Leisa Lavender, our Development Director, and I made our annual pilgrimage to Hong Kong. Our visit coincided with the HK Rugby Sevens, which meant our accommodation was somewhat less luxurious than usual. We stayed in what can only be described as a bijou set-up: the Mini Hotel in Causeway Bay. I had to crawl into my bed from one end. Not so much a case of no room to swing a cat as no room for a cat at all. Still, it was central, and we did get to spend a day at the rugby. It must be the world’s biggest party. Sadly Leisa and I had left our gorilla suits, grass skirts and face paint at home, so we merely observed. I sat next to a mountainous Fijian businessman who told me he arranged his buying trips to China to coincide with the sevens every year. His team won; mine didn’t. The Hong Kong Foundation dinner at the HK Country Club was very well attended and was rather a splendid and cheerful affair. I am always impressed by the loyalty and warmth of the Hong Kong OA community and it was good to see current pupils and parents, and one or two prospective pupils there as well. Franklin Heng OA took us out on his yacht for a day. Franklin, amongst other things, sells yachts and speedboats, and usually brings the odd toy along for me to try out. This time it was quite extreme: a RIB with two 300HP motors. Completely mad: after lunch on the yacht we were skimming across Deepwater Bay at 53 knots. To restore some sense of peace I borrowed an inflatable kayak and paddled around quietly.

Which brings me to: the Challenge. Leisa has devised a number of sporting challenges for pupils and staff to undertake in the final week of the term; things like running 5km or climbing the climbing wall 181 times or swimming an unfeasibly long way. I am, instead, going to paddle my new canoe the whole length of the Bridgwater to Taunton Canal – about 13 miles. We’ll find a Sunday when I’m not somewhere else and I hope that others will join me. I understand there are even a few nice pubs along the way… So do feel free to join me. Otherwise sponsorship will be fine – proceeds towards our Sports Hub Appeal.

The trips don’t let up much next week, but only one is to London this time. Our girls are playing in the ISFA football cup final at Thame on Monday. We’ll report on that result soon afterwards. And I’m visiting St Petroc’s, a prep school in Bude, on Tuesday. And there’s an HMC Spring conference…in London, hooray, on Thursday.

A Headmaster’s heart sings whenever he sees a digger on site. Well, we have two at once. We are building a new common room for Bishop Fox House and the work on the new art studio has begun. Both are excellent, medium-scale projects which will make a big difference to the pupils’ lives. We have tenders in for the indoor cricket school and that work will begin quite soon too. Exciting times!

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