Dear Children and young people,
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and that you are looking forward to your final week of remote learning prior to the half-term break (‘Yippee!!’ I hear you cry – or was that the teachers?)
Mr Moore and I had some lovely long walks again over the weekend to make up for the lazy week I mentioned in my Friday memo. On Saturday, we had an extremely long walk, this time across to Longmoor Pool – somewhere I hadn’t been to before. It was absolutely exhausting but worth it as the scenery on the way was breathtaking.
I am looking forward to ‘seeing‘ you all in my Zoom assembly on Friday. I’m hoping that as many of you as possible will attend as it will be great to have us all together again – albeit only in the virtual sense. I’m also hoping to be able to virtually award some certificates during the assembly, but this is still a work in progress.
This week (18th – 22nd May) is Mental Health Awareness week and with this in mind, I am attaching a supporter pack from the Mental Health Foundation which is packed full of ideas on ‘Kindness’ which is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. I hope that as many of you as possible will read the pack and do your best to carry out some random acts of kindness such as:
• Calling a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while
• Telling a family member how much you love and appreciate them
• Arranging to have a cup of tea and virtual catch up with someone you know
• Arranging to watch a film at the same time as a friend and video call
• Tell someone you know that you are proud of them
I’ve told someone I’m proud of them in this memo, but you’ll have to wait till the end to find out who it is – no cheating!
The idea of spreading kindness really links to the idea of spreading love and it got me thinking about my Nanna in Wales who I loved dearly and who is sadly no longer with us. She was the most amazing woman and probably the reason why I ended up loving poetry so much and eventually becoming an English teacher. Nanna and Papa (he was wonderful too) used to visit us in Ireland every summer and then take us back with them to their home in Swansea for the whole of the summer holidays every year. They lived by the sea and we simply loved it there. Nanna was a wonderful cook and would prepare Welsh delicacies such as Welsh cakes, Teisin Lap (which in English translates to ‘cake on a plate’ as it was baked on a shallow plate) and Bara Brith, a rich, moist fruit bread which translates into English as ‘mottled bread’.
Nanna would prop herself up in bed in the mornings in her lovely knitted bed jacket and we would crowd onto it with her and she would recite poems from a huge volume of poetry that she always carried with her. We always begged her to recite some of our favourite poems from this book such as ‘The Women of Mumbles Head’ (which is based on a true story about women who saved men from a sinking ship from the seas near Swansea at a place called ‘The Mumbles ’) or ‘The News Boys Debt’ (don’t ask – it’s much too sad) and she would always oblige us. Nanna didn’t even really need to read from the book as she knew most of the poems in it by heart (that was something that we all used to have to do in our schools back in the day – learn poetry by heart). All of the poems that she recited were sad ones – all about children dying and going to Heaven etc – typically melodramatic Victorian tales of their time. But one poem which made a real impact on me and stayed with me throughout my life is called ‘Somebody’s Mother’ (more on this to follow). Nanna’s beautiful soft and lilting Welsh voice would literally mesmerise us and we would often fall asleep during a recital of one of the longer poems.
Nanna gave me the book one summer and I cherished it for a long time. However, during one of our many moves abroad (my dad was in the navy and we went abroad a lot), the book was lost – horror of horrors! I mourned its loss terribly and, years later when I was living and working in London as a young woman, I used to spend many a day trawling through the second-hand book shops on Charing Cross Road hoping to find a copy of that precious book. There was no internet in those days either, so I literally had to keep trawling and keep asking. The worst thing was that I couldn’t remember the book’s title only that it was big, red and very old. Nanna was also devastated when I eventually confessed to her that the book was lost as it meant a lot to her too.
However, this story has a very happy ending. One day, I was in my local charity shop in Norwich (yes, I lived there too) and there on the shelf in front of me was a copy of that wonderful book – I recognised it immediately – even though I was only 11 years old when I had seen it last. You can imagine how my heart was thumping!! Here’s a picture of it: It’s called ‘The Thousand Best Poems in the World’.
I quickly grabbed it before anyone else could and rushed to pay for it. Can you believe that it was only 50p? I would have paid 20 or even 100 times as much just to be able to have a copy of that precious book again.
When Nanna was very old, I gave it back to her. She cried – which then made me cry. When she died, my Papa gave it back to me and it remains to this day one of my most precious possessions. The poem I mentioned, which began this story, ‘Somebody’s Mother’, is set out below:
I had to trawl the internet to find this copy so apologies for its condition:
The poem is about the kindness shown by a young boy to an old woman and I like to think that we would all do the same if we saw ‘somebody’s mother’ struggling to cross a busy road (obviously taking really good care and looking both ways).
( As promised – here is a story about one boy I am proud of, but there are many other children in our School that I’m also very proud of). His name is David and he noticed an old lady trying to find her way to our reception area as he was walking through the grounds one day. Instead of ignoring her and looking the other way, young David walked up to her, helped carry her shopping bag and guided her safely to our reception. She was so overwhelmed by this act of kindness that she contacted me to let me know how touched she had been by David’s kindness towards her. Well done, David! I’m very proud of you.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed hearing about my memories from the past and my love of this particular old book and poem. Have you got a treasured possession that you would like to tell me about? If so, I would love to hear from you. I also hope that you remember how important it is to engage in little, random acts of kindness and how much they are appreciated. I have really noticed how being in lockdown and unable to mix with family, friends and even strangers has resulted in people smiling more and being generally kinder. I sincerely hope that we remember the impact, power and beauty of kindness when things eventually return to normal.
Finally, I must remember to let you have the most recent House points totals during remote learning– I got into trouble with Mrs Healey for forgetting to do so in my Friday memo (only joking Mrs Healey!)
DRUM ROLL PLEASE!
U3 Oliver Robinson 18
U3 Yuvvy Atwal 17
U3 Ella Lin 17
U3 Oliver Mills 16
U3 Shaan Malhi 14
U3 Keisha Chirata 14
L4 Benjamin Wilkinson 19
L4 Nathan Morris 18
L4 Georgia Fletcher 17
L4 Josh Cahm 16
L4 Isobel Budden 16
L4 Harry Hope 16
L4 Sophia Jamil 15
L4 Dylan Kaypee 15
L4 Isabelle Quartermain 14
U4 Jodie Andrews 20
U4 Ruby Newman 17
U4 Isabel Masaun 15
U4 Holly Pankhurst 15
U4 Sophie Watkin 14
U4 Kimran Bal 14
L5 Hope Stirland 9
L5 Malakai Florey-Meah 8
L5 Madison Ealing 8
L5 Lina Bouden 8
1st Tudor 390
2nd Lancaster 364
3rd York 353
Finally, I hope you have a wonderful week and I look forward to ‘seeing’ you at assembly on Friday. In the meantime, remember to be kind and continue to help out at home – you’re all very special and I’m very proud of every single one of you. Always remember to…..
Love and best wishes,