Summer 2020: From The Headmaster’s Study
03 July 2020
Dear Parents and Hamptonians
I hope this finds you well at the close of our 2019-20 School year and – as I said during Thursday’s Final e-Assembly – the culmination of a term like no other in Hampton’s long and distinguished 463-year history.
You might recall that shortly after the Government-required closure of our School site began in March, I shared some words from one of my favourite writers, Maya Angelou. She observed, in inimitable style: ‘My mission in life is not merely to survive… but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion… some humour, and some style’. Reflecting on recent months, it seems to me that our School community has subscribed to her philosophy in admirable fashion!
When we began our weekly Hampton@Home e-newsletter 15 weeks ago, none of us could have envisaged the sheer variety and creativity of the stories, video clips and features that would be produced during the e-Hampton era. You can explore and enjoy all of this term’s H@H editions via our e-Hub, linked here.
Our final e-newsletter of the summer term is as engaging and entertaining as ever. Highlights include a report on an aspect of our Founders’ Day celebrations, the 1557 Challenge, which saw boys displaying characteristic inventiveness in devising 1557-themed fundraising activities. Mrs Samuel deserves our thanks for organising this Form Charity event and we are grateful for the generosity of everyone by whom donations were made.
This latest edition of H@H also includes our Geography department’s inaugural ‘virtual’ field trips this week for our First and Second Years. These digital fieldwork sessions were broadcast live from the River Tillingbourne, while Miss Brown simultaneously oversaw operations from Hampton’s ‘Thunderbird 5’, Room 77. I thoroughly enjoyed watching events unfold, including Mr Bett’s memorable encounter with Tilly (the new departmental fish) – a great deal of fun was evidently had by all!
You can also discover the outcome of the much-anticipated Hampton Sports Chronicle (HSC) vote on our School’s greatest sporting moment. This popular initiative was the brainchild of Mr Smith, who is retiring from our English department, and Lower Sixth pupil editor, Josh Bartholomew. The HSC magazine is published in this week’s e-newsletter and I should like to extend personal thanks to Josh, Mr Smith and their team of writers for producing such an excellent publication.
A particular highlight in this week’s H@H, is a stunning ‘virtual’ rendition of The Hollies’ classic, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, by our ever-impressive Voices of Lions choir. While current circumstances have prevented them rehearsing in person, their 44 voices combine beautifully in a poignant performance. This song is a perennial VoL favourite and its message of fellowship, camaraderie and mutual support could not be timelier, evoking Hamptonians’ distinctive generosity of spirit and togetherness. I am in no doubt that these attributes have played a significant part in helping us to meet the challenges of the past few months with equanimity.
Voices of Lions includes 16 of our Upper Sixth Leavers among their ranks and our class of 2020 is an exceptional group of young men. They have been wonderful role models and impressive ambassadors – we wish them every happiness and success post-Hampton. This is also an opportune moment for me to pay tribute to our superb 2019-20 School Captains team: Paul Wilkinson, Bart Briston, Matt Cecil, Alexander Fagan, Joseph Helm and Koby Kalavannan. They have been a been an invaluable source of advice, support and encouragement throughout the year, as you will see/hear in their typically thoughtful and good-humoured farewell message for their fellow pupils.
We also bid a fond farewell to several members of the Common Room, including five colleagues who are leaving Hampton after 100+ cumulative years of dedicated service. Their contributions are recognised in one of this week’s articles and you can find more Common Room news on the ‘Further Information’ sheet that you have been emailed today. I should also like to take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude to all of my teaching and support staff colleagues for their Herculean efforts on behalf of our boys. Their ingenuity, dedication and resourcefulness have been phenomenal to witness as we have navigated the challenging waters of our unexpected e-Hampton summer term.
It occurred to me recently that today sees me complete my 75th term in teaching, a moment which also coincides with having overseen a seven-year Hampton generation through our School as Headmaster. This most recent term has concurrently been the most extraordinary, enervating and uplifting one that I have experienced. Giving due credit to Charles Dickens’ unsurpassed opening sentence in A Tale of Two Cities, we have been living through an ‘epoch of incredulity’. However, yesterday’s Government announcement about plans for all pupils to return to school sites in September has provided us with some extremely welcome end-of-term news.
We shall of course need to spend time carefully considering the latest Government guidance and its implications for our setting, but we shall write to you as soon as we reasonably can with information about our autumn term arrangements. In the meantime, it appears that Hamptonians, parents and members of the Common Room can look forward to the new School year with renewed optimism and some rather brighter light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel. Hopefully, we shall be back together on-site in September and should that turn out to be the case, what a joyful day it will be!
All that remains is for me to thank you for your continued support and to wish you a relaxing, restful and restorative summer break.
With kind regards and best wishes