Welcome back after a splendid half term break where I hope you had the opportunity to relax and recuperate and spend quality time with family and friends; we are now back into the rhythms and routine of school life and concentrating on the core business of teaching and learning at Sexey’s. With Sixth Form assessments having taken place all this week followed by Y11 Michaelmas Exams in a few weeks’ time, the school is a hive of academic learning, as it should be, and I have been impressed with the conscientious approach taken by our Sexeians – I wish all our students the very best in their academic endeavours.
However, I am not writing this edition from the comfort of my study in Bruton (the poppy display outside my study on the front lawn is stunning) but from Ypres in Belgium (and the Somme in France) where I have the privilege and honour of accompanying the School’s WWI Centenary Battlefields Tour this week. As a pupil, I learnt about the war at school but had never visited Ypres, nor the Somme and so I really did not fully appreciate the significance of the sacrifice made by our young men. The Ypres Salient is vast, as are the graves at Langemark and Tyne Cot, where Brutonians and Old Sexeians are honoured at the latter. And as I sit here and reflect having reread John McCrae's ‘From Flanders Field’ and an old letter written by Harold Scott (OS) of an Old Sexeian, Trooper Harry Warr, who lost his life on 13 May 1915 during the Great War, I take on board the enormity of what happened here exactly 100 years ago. It's truly humbling and very powerful indeed, quite overwhelming in fact when you see the number of graves, monuments, memorials and inscriptions about the war. The war poets, Sassoon, Kipling, Owen et al brought home the madness of war in their writings and when I read ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, it still sends a shiver down my spine - 'going over the top' will resonant for a long time to come. We have just come back from an emotional Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate where current Sexeians, Jack Lecerf (9 Kni ACA) and Georgina Bewley (9 Gol DJB) laid a wreath in honour of the Old Sexeian Harry Warr whose name is inscribed on this solemn memorial - a true honour. My wife’s two great uncles are also named on the Gate – the war affected everyone. In total 63 Sexeians lost their lives fighting for our country and the Remembrance Service at St Mary’s, Bruton on Sunday and the School’s service next Tuesday will hold even more poignancy. And I hope our Sexeians gain and learn much from this experience, as I have done, as we look forward to visiting the battle trenches at Sanctuary Wood tomorrow - they are the next generation who I hope will work hard to avoid such conflicts ever happening again and will endeavour to continue to bring peace in our world. We have much to thank the courageous and selfless acts of these young men (some as young as our Y11s) who gave their lives in fighting the Great War so that we could enjoy our freedom today and tomorrow - we will remember them, always.