The Headteacher: A remarkable and inspirational act

That's Remarkable Award winner Henry Kay.
That's Remarkable Award winner Henry Kay.

Pocklington School has a great history of successful students of whom we are very proud. They serve as an inspiration to all of us. But “success” is more than just achieving recognition, wealth or status – it’s about how we live, and how we treat others.

This year, the Lower School had a series of assemblies around the topic of “success”. In one, students learned a little about a truly remarkable and inspirational person, Thomas Barnardo, the founder of a children’s charity that continues to support society’s most vulnerable children.

Mark Ronan is the headmaster of Pocklington School

Mark Ronan is the headmaster of Pocklington School

In 1866, a 21 year-old Barnardo arrived in London to train as a doctor during a devastating outbreak of cholera which killed thousands in the overcrowded East End. The following year, he established a ‘Ragged School’ – a small mission school offering basic education for the most disadvantaged.

When one of the pupils, Jim Jarvis, took him on a tour of the East End slums, Barnardo was overwhelmed by what he saw, particularly the destitute children sleeping on roofs and in gutters. He immediately committed his life to establishing homes and schools for the safety and advancement of children in need.

Barnardo’s promise “never to turn a child away who is in genuine need” remains the charity’s philosophy today. We’ve all heard of Barnardo, but Jim Jarvis – the boy who inspired him – is less well known; perhaps another unsung hero.

In the spirit of Barnardo’s and Jim Jarvis’ achievement, we launched a new award this year for a Lower School student who had done something outstanding – something that would prompt people to say: “that’s remarkable!” Hence the award’s name, the ‘That’s Remarkable Award’ (TRA).

Lower School pupils were asked to nominate any peers who had done something, outside of the normal school routine, which stood out; an act or achievement that reflected the virtues and ethos of Pocklington School.

There were some truly inspiring nominees that reflect our school’s values of truth, the courage to act on your convictions, and our championing of individual strengths. One student raised a huge amount for charities, another had performed in a West End Show. A wicket-keeper in a key cricket game had risked the ire of his teammates by confessing it was his hand, not the ball, which had knocked the bails off a stump, an admission that led to the ultimately victorious team’s star batsman staying on.

The winner of the TRA, Pocklington School first former Henry Kay, was recognised because when he invited 22 friends to his birthday football party, he asked them to donate to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance rather than bring presents. This decision, which raised a considerable amount of money, came after a close friend was saved by the YAA following a serious road traffic accident. Henry now plans to make the YAA football birthday party an annual event.

To be affected by an event is one thing but to have the kindness and determination to do something about it is something not enough of us think to do. Henry’s act is quite remarkable; an inspiration, and a fine example of one of life’s successes.