There has been much to enjoy in the first three weeks of the new academic year, and the return to a much greater sense of normality has seen a heightened energy and dynamism about our campus.
We have been delighted to welcome families and visitors back for sports matches, musical events such as the recital by the Tallis Scholars and the ‘Welcome to the Sixth Form’ event. This term has also marked the long-awaited return of larger-scale admissions days on campus and it has been a real pleasure to welcome so many families considering the College and to see them engaged so happily with our current pupils and staff whilst enjoying their visit.
The second week of term was marked by the official opening of our Beko Innovation Centre. The building was officially opened by Giles Henderson, our Chairman of Council, and Hakan Bulgurlu, CEO of Arçelik, the holding company for Beko. The event was an opportunity to emphasise the College’s vision for the future of science, technology and innovation both within our curriculum and in STEM outreach programmes and external collaborations.
Sport has been back in full swing and our sports scholars were treated to a re-envisioning of our traditional annual Dunford Lecture with a more interactive alternative dubbed the Dunford Trilogy. This involved three 45-minute workshops with industry experts David Alcock (Sports Psychologist), Gareth Smith (former Royal Marines Commando) and David Tilston (Movement Coach), each designed to build the broader physical and mental skills needed for high performance. Our 188 Shell pupils followed in the footsteps of many Marlburians in taking part in the annual Shell Steeplechase, a first opportunity for them to represent their House in friendly interhouse competition. It is a spectacular visual feast to watch so many pupils in House swipes take on the 1.5 mile course around the perimeter of the College’s playing fields.
Weekends have been action-packed and fun, with House friendships forged for the first time by the Shell or reconnected and deepened for others after the summer holiday. Academically, we were reminded of the exceptional set of results and onward destinations for our newest OMs, the Class of 2021, with the final picture now complete of the dazzling array of courses and institutions they have joined for the next stage of their education.
It has been a delight to see our beautiful Chapel in use again for larger-scale College worship and events, with the highlight being the two Services of Anglican Confirmation held on Sunday 19th September. 43 pupils took this significant step in their journey of faith in an uplifting service witnessed by their families, godparents and friends. The Right Reverend Andrew Rumsey, the Bishop of Ramsbury officiated alongside our Senior Chaplain, the Reverend Tim Novis.
The retiring collection at the Services raised a fantastic £2,245 in aid of the work of the Refugee Council to support Afghan refugees newly arrived in this country. We will be raising funds and collecting supplies for this humanitarian cause across this term, recognising that many have arrived in the UK with literally nothing. This week, we were delighted to welcome to the College Mr Enver Solomon, CEO of Refugee Council, who spoke in year group assemblies about the urgency of their work which has stimulated many excellent ideas from pupils for fundraising initiatives which we will look forward to sharing very shortly.
The whole College community, including that of Marlborough College Malaysia, was deeply saddened to have received news this week of the passing of a much-loved member of last year’s Upper Sixth, Oliver C. Pupils and staff remembered Oliver in Chapel on the evening of Wednesday 22nd September with the lighting of candles in his memory. We extend our deepest sympathy to Oliver’s family.
I wish all Marlburian families a greatly deserved rest this weekend and look forward to your return on Sunday evening.