By: Louise North – Principal and Head of the Senior School, Framlingham College
Welcome back to the second half of term. I hope that you have had time to pause, catch up with friends and family and enjoy some time thinking about things other than school. I hope also that you have had time to read, as I suggested you might in my address before half term.
I really like the first verse of today’s reading: The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; because it makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than just me. That I belong to some plan much greater than any I might have on my own. There is some comfort in that, I think.
And that feeling of being part of something bigger than what we experience day to day is what I want to focus on this morning.
I started my half term by attending an Old Framlinghamian dinner, along with several other staff here today and many Old Framlinghamians. The men and women whom I met ranged from aged 20 to those in their 80s. What struck me was not only the warmth of their memories from their own school days, but also their interest in current Framlinghamians – you – and in the future direction of the College.
I talked to them about the importance I place on you, the current Framlinghamian body, understanding that you are part of a rich tradition and history that goes back to 1864 and indeed before that, when the idea of the Albert Memorial Middle Class College began to form in our Founders’ minds.
You, we, are now part of something much bigger than the few years of our lives that we spend here. As Framlinghamians, we are part of something that didn’t start just when we arrived here and will not end when we leave. Our time here is relatively brief and your name joins a long school roll, which began in 1864 and which will go on indefinitely. And during that brief time, each one of us has an opportunity to leave a legacy that will influence the character of Framlinghamians of the future, just as you are influenced, consciously or not, by Framlinghamians of the past.
We leave our mark on this place, for good or ill, in everything that we do, both physically, by wearing down those stone steps a little more each time we tread on them, or by sitting in those pews as decades and generations of Framlinghamians have done before us. We leave our mark in the work that we do, the effort that we make whether in the classroom, on the pitch, on stage, in a concert…and Framlingham College leaves its mark upon you.
When you see elderly people visiting the College, the likelihood is that they are OFs, coming back to remember, to celebrate their memories of their childhood here and to find out what has changed, and what is happening now and what things will be like in the future. Those bonds never break.
This week, as we look towards Remembrance Sunday, this place in which we sit is ever more important as a memorial and a reminder of the many Framlinghamians who sat where you are sitting, who walked where you walk, who died in service to their country.
I would ask you to take some time to look at the plaques on the walls, to read the stories of our VC winners, to breathe in the history of this chapel and to remember, respectfully, the ultimate sacrifice made by so many Framlinghamians. You will see plaques in memory of those who died in the First World War and the Second World War. You will read about our three Framlinghamians who were awarded the Victory Cross: William Henry Hewitt, Gordon Muriel Flowerdew and Augustus Willington Shelton Agar. You will read a remarkable story about Prince Constantin Karadja, you will read of the courage and determination of Pilot Officer Richard Clare Whittaker and you will see other memorials to more recent Old Framlinghamians who lost their lives on active service.
All of this matters, not just because of the sacrifice that they made for our freedom today, but because they are part of our history, our school and they give us a context and a better understanding of how we fit into the bigger picture of Framlingham College.
This Sunday, I have invited all of you and your parents to attend our Remembrance Service, to sing with great heart in the company of OFs and Governors and to remember our history. I very much hope that you will come.