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President’s Blog: July 2014

6 Aug 14

Unless you have led an entirely blameless life of virtue and industry the summons to the Headmaster’s office is always a moment to pause and rewind your life, checking for imperfections and shortcomings! So it was for me earlier this year when Stephen Cole asked me to make an appointment to see him. As I had just retired for the second time I wondered what was the purpose of the meeting. When he told me the OW’s wanted me to serve as Hon. President I was truly stunned. Not only had it never crossed my mind, but I immediately appreciated what a great honour it was – and so accepted.

What a long time ago it was when I came to Woodbridge by Eastern Counties bus to attend an interview for the position of Assistant Master to teach English. The year was 1969 and my meetings were with Desmond Proctor-Robinson (far more interested in hearing the result of the Derby, I seem to remember!) and John Rolland. Much later I discovered Mike Weaver was also on campus that day, although he was after the History job, which included a long walk round the cricket pitch with Norman Stevens who tried, but failed, to recruit him into the CCF. As in all these stories I was convinced I would hear no more from Woodbridge but that very evening John Rolland offered me the job.

We all like to reflect on moments that changed our life, but that day certainly changed mine. I not only began a career I came to love, but I later met my wife as a colleague, and made friends who remain close to me over 40 years later.

Teaching is a strange trade because it appears to be about passing on very specific factual knowledge but really it is about meeting all sorts of young people and finding what makes them tick. In my time I produced plays, paraded with the CCF, organised all sorts of presentations and entertainments and during these I came to know and admire the Woodbridge pupils – boys and girls. The learning process was all around me and I was part of it. That’s what makes Woodbridge School so special: when pupils return we may not remember anything about the lessons all those years ago, but now they are successful, interesting and kind people. You have no idea how satisfying it is to hope that you might just be a tiny part in their achievement.

See you at the OW Dinner on Saturday, 20th September!

Mark Mitchels

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