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Boys Fundraise to Help African Mothers Give Birth Safely

Two Lower Sixth Formers, who vehemently believe that every child born should grow up with a mother figure, are at the helm of a fundraising campaign that aims to fight maternal mortality in South Sudan.

James Cutler and Harry Hine came up with the idea after attending the Ready2Lead Conference, run by Mr Everitt, and were inspired to enter the Global Social Leaders Global Goals Competition. The competition challenges students around the world to engage with the United Nation’s sustainable development goals and to implement them in their own way.

After considering ‘Clean water and sanitation’ as a focus, they changed tack when they learned about high mortality rates and in particular maternal mortality rates, in third world countries. They quickly decided that this was something they both felt strongly about and believed that they could make a sizable impact with a very simple solution.

Harry explained, “Having a happy and privileged upbringing and a healthcare system that is often taken for granted, we felt it necessary to step outside of this lifestyle and help others. Every child should have a mother figure for a chance at a happy upbringing.”

The boys chose South Sudan as the country to focus on, given that it currently has the highest maternal mortality rate of any country in the world, with an estimated 789 deaths per 100,000 live births.

The boys, who galvanised the support of classmates, named their project ‘DROP’, its primary aim being to provide better healthcare for women to help prevent maternal mortality surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. By providing mothers with packages they hope to enable more sterile births to help reduce the number of maternal deaths as a result of infection in birth. The packages contain several hygiene products, including gloves, soap, biodegradable bowls, medical gloves and towels.

As a side pledge, all items will be either biodegradable or reusable, in order to make sure the project does not harm the local environment. Additionally, the packages are being assembled in South Sudan to help the local economy which adds to the sustainability goal for the project.

To help bring their idea to fruition (the hardest part of having a really good idea), the boys contacted Angela Gorman MBE, CEO of the charity Life for African Mothers (LFAM). Angela was able to put the boys in touch with a representative in South Sudan, and James and Harry were invited to attend a Zoom call that is run as a training programme for midwives in Sierra Leone.

James told us, “It was an incredible experience for both of us and provided an insight into the amazing work that charities across the world do and have been continuing to do, despite the pandemic. Following on from these meetings and conversations, we were able to establish which medical items would be best for us to include in our boxes and we were able to begin to investigate how to transport our boxes to South Sudan.”

The boys have wasted no time, and packages have already been distributed to three pregnant mothers this week. The mother dressed in orange is called Mary Achan, who is in her second trimester. The other two women photographed are called Susan and Abuk Garang.  

Mary said, “I really appreciate the support from the DROP team. I have been incredibly worried about getting these items, because of the high cost on the market. Thank you, James and Harry.”  (Quote slightly revised to improve the English)

Funding the project has proved to be a challenge too However, with the help of Ms Spyropoulos, LFAM was been chosen as one of the school’s designated charities, which means that charity events such as mufti days will help raise money for their project.

Both boys are committed to carry on this project for as long as possible whilst at school.

James said, “We may offer other boys at the school the chance to run it once we have left school, if there is interest, or we may carry it on ourselves whilst we are at university. Either way, we do not want this to be a one-off as we want to make a real impact and help contribute to the life-changing work in sub-Saharan Africa being carried out by these charities every day.”

“We have both really enjoyed working on it and we look forward to seeing it progress in the future. In an all-boys school such as ours, it is important that we think of maternal mortality and try to provide help and care to those in need of it when we can. Harry and I are simply trying to make a small difference that will contribute to this.”

If you would like to donate to DROP you can do so here.

Live Music Plays On

If you were walking past the Recital Hall during the latter part of last week, you might have been lucky enough to hear our music scholars in performance. Due to year group bubbles and other restrictions currently in place, our series of lunchtime and informal concerts cannot go ahead in their usual form this term. Undeterred, the music department are forging ahead with a series of concerts, which they are recording so that they can be enjoyed by all online.

The first concert of the term was released on social media at the weekend and featured our music scholars performing a wide variety of pieces that they are currently working on. As the scholars are in different year group bubbles, they were invited to the Recital Hall one by one to record their segments, expertly accompanied on the piano by Mrs Bantock. The recordings made over these two days resulted in an impressive concert, with talented performers on a variety of instruments, including euphonium, viola, trumpet, double bass, piano and violin, as well as vocalists.

The concert features a diverse range of music – from Baroque favourites by Handel and Purcell, through the Classical period, to Aaron Copland and beyond – there is certainly something for everyone to enjoy. There is even a quick hop over to the Great Hall to hear some Stanford on the organ – something that would be harder to achieve with an audience in tow!

The series of music concerts and competitions continues apace throughout the term, culminating in the Summer Concert, which will take place online on Thursday 1 July. All these events will be made available online, so do look out for them on the music department Facebook page (add link). The next film to be released will be a concert from our Fourth Form musicians.

In the meantime, you can enjoy the Music Scholars’ concert here.

Two Golds and Eleven Silvers in Worldwide Physics Competition

Lower Sixth Formers Reuben Glenville and Alex Aellen recently achieved gold awards in the British Physics Olympiad (BPhO) Senior Challenge, placing them in the top 15 percent of around 5,300 students taking part from nearly 400 schools from around the world.   

This year saw a record number of pupils from Bedford School step up to the challenge with 32 taking part. Due to COVID restrictions, the boys were required to take on the challenge online and tackle the 40-question paper which increased in difficulty as they progressed through the questions. The boys performed brilliantly; in addition to the two gold certificates won, 11 boys achieved silver awards for their efforts.  

The competition is an opportunity for students to stretch their problem-solving skills and apply fundamental physical principles to novel situations, and is designed to assess and challenge students’ ability to work at a high level.

Head of Physics Dr Palmer said, “The gold awards achieved by Reuben and Alex were a fantastic achievement and demonstrated very high level problem solving skills as well as broad knowledge of Sixth Form physics. I hope all boys who entered enjoyed the challenge. The next steps will be the BPhO Olympiad competition in the Upper Sixth.”

Certificates awarded:

Reuben Glenville

Gold

Alex Aellen

Gold

Will MacGillivray

Silver

Peter Moore

Silver

Sebastian Peacock

Silver

James Deardon

Silver

Dell Kang

Silver

Will Turner

Silver

Jonah Whiteman

Silver

Ciaran Kilbane

Silver

Anish Katechia

Silver

Maxwell Martin

Silver

Marcus Chien

Silver

Reading the Story of Captain Tom to Children in Malawi

Just over a year ago, on a bright sunny day in April, a 99-year-old man stood outside his house and held onto his walking frame. His name was Captain Tom Moore and his pledge to walk 100 lengths of his garden to raise funds for an over-worked NHS captured hearts across the globe. It is fitting, therefore, that we bring this story to you today, on what would have been his 101st birthday.

Last week we were honoured to be the first school in the country to pledge its support for the Captain Tom 100 initiative, which has galvanised support from hundreds of schools around the country who are taking part in the project to raise funds for the Captain Tom Foundation.  

The Foundation supports causes close to the late Captain’s heart; one of these causes aims to champion education and equality. Lower Sixth Former and grandson of the late Captain Sir Tom Moore, Benjie Ingram-Moore, is at the helm of the project in school and has encouraged other boys to follow his lead to take part in the challenge centred around the number 100. In line with the ‘education and equality’ pillar of the foundation, the school has pledged to undertake guided reading sessions to 100 children in deprived schools overseas.  

We were therefore delighted to hold one of the first guided reading sessions for 30 pupils, including 10 with special needs, at the Lilongwe Demonstration School in Malawi. Following Benjie’s lead was Lower Sixth Former Arun Nanda who read the children’s book ‘One Hundred Steps’ written by Captain Tom. Despite some challenges with technology, the children in Malawi sat extremely patiently until Arun was able to read the book, which he did in an engaging, lively way, showing pictures from the book to the children as he told the story.

The children also had a wonderful surprise in store for us; at the end of the story they sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Captain Tom and one of the boys stood and thanked us for reading the story.

Wordsworth Rashid, the teacher in Malawi who helped us organise the session, said, “We were all so excited to talk to you. The children were enthusiastically ready to listen to the story and although we faced challenges with speakers, the children enjoyed seeing Arun reading to them about Captain Tom.”

We are currently arranging to hold the session again as the children would like to ask some more questions and see what a school is England is like. We have also arranged for copies of the book to be sent to the school so the children can read it for themselves.

We were introduced to the school by the Bhusbesi Pride Foundation, a charity that has built a school in Malawi whose activities centre around sport, in particular rugby and netball. Before the pandemic, Bedford School had plans to visit them and create a programme in Malawi whereby our boys would go there during the summer holidays to help with their rugby training skills. When the time is appropriate, we hope to revisit this idea as part of our relationship with Bhusbesi and their partner schools.   

Debaters Talk Their Way to National Final

Remove Formers Giles Halsey and Toby L’Estrange and Fifth Former William Roberts took to the lectern to compete in the national final of the ESU Churchill Public Speaking Competition.

The three boys, who regularly attend the school’s Debating Society took the roles of chairperson, questioner and speaker in the team. This year, the competition was held over Zoom, which presented its own unique challenges, but the boys did not let these deter them!

All three boys performed extremely well. They demonstrated the ability to look anyone in the eye, make them feel welcome and deliver thoughtful contributions, skills we look for in all our boys.

Giles spoke powerfully on the Churchill quote, “If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.” Toby and William were the chairperson and questioner for a speaker from the opposition who gave a talk on the topic: ‘Is Twitter making a nonsense of discussion or opening our eyes to the views of others?’.

Toby told us, “The part I love about debating is hearing what other people have to say about topics and arguing about their views. What I found most challenging was adapting to how the judges were reacting while also making notes in real-time on what the speaker was talking about.”

The art of public speaking helps boys in all aspects of their schoolwork, and is a life skill invaluable to them throughout their careers and, indeed, social lives.

Mr Hopton, Head of English, who runs the Debating Society and helps the boys develop their debating style, said, “What was particularly admirable was how the boys helped one another in their preparation. They took time to reflect on previous debates, giving one another feedback, which was extremely valuable to help them improve. They worked very collaboratively, and I am very proud of the boys.”

More Podium Success for our Computer Scientists

Computer scientists from the Remove Form, Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth recently took part in the Lockheed Martin Code Quest programming competition. The competition, which was held on Saturday 24 April, involved writing applications to solve a range of individual problems from simple data conversions to string manipulation to more complex matrix transformations.

The boys working in teams, competed against 568 other teams from schools in the UK, Australia and the US. The Upper Sixth team (consisting of German Nikolishin, Tony Zhang and Hasnain Zaidi) came second overall in the UK in the Advanced Level. Overall, this put them in a very impressive 65th place in the worldwide rankings.

 

The other teams involved were:

5th overall in the UK Advanced level
Maxwell Martin, Alex Aellen, Seb Peacock

4th overall in the UK Novice level
Yoni Sileshi, Dawud Ibrahim, Oliver Jones

6th overall in the UK Novice level
Will Reddy, Joe Travis, Siddarth Prabhu

 

 

Head of Computer Science, Mr Scullion, said “This is a fantastic achievement, not just for our top programmers, but also showing the determination and skill level of all the boys, some of whom have only really been coding since September.”

Learning in an information age where technology is at the forefront, programming at a higher level gives boys an understanding of the workings of the devices and programs they use on a daily basis. Programming also encourages boys to think logically, and sequentially to try and find bottlenecks or bugs in any given code. This skill is not unique to programmers though, it can be used by anyone trying to improve any area of life, so learning programming is a step in the right direction in developing other skills.

German told us, “Computer programming is a way to express my ideas. Similarly, to art, you are given unlimited number of tools which you can use to create something unique, but also useful. There are so many applications of programming (even in art itself), that sometimes you get lost in your own ideas. But I think the favourite feature of computer programming is constant learning. As a programmer, you never stop learning, there are always new technologies and innovation to explore and contribute to. This helps to keep your mind fit.”

Golf Scholar Alex Wins World Qualifier

Lower Sixth Former Alex Robins is set to represent the UK in the prestigious 2021 IMG Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego, California, USA in July. Alex secured his place at the championships after winning the world qualifier over 18 holes at St Ives Golf Course on Sunday 18 April. 

Alex, who joined the school on a golf scholarship aged 13, will compete in the 15- to 18-year-old category. 

Alex told us, “I can’t quite believe I have made it through to the World Championships. I had quite low expectations, but I had a good day; I played solidly throughout and hit the ball well.”

Despite a long time off the course as a result of Covid restrictions, Alex has been able to keep on top of his training with regular coaching sessions on the school’s Trackman golf simulator with golf professional Holly Reddick. “The simulator is really helping my game; it gives me the numbers and tells me how I am hitting.” he explained.

At school he is also able to play golf three times a week on the school’s affiliated course, Woburn, and receive additional coaching after school.

Holly told us, “Alex has worked extremely hard over the past year. COVID restrictions have certainly made practicing and playing a challenge which Alex has taken in his stride and turned the challenges into opportunities. We are all very proud of his achievement and excited about the tournament in San Diego. I have no doubt that if he continues to work hard, he will have continued success in the coming months.”

Alex started playing golf aged just nine years old after his mum signed him up to a school holiday course. He soon got the bug and started entering competitions. When he started to win he was motivated to get better and better. He is now hoping to gain a scholarship at a golf college in the USA when he finishes Sixth Form, and the progress he has made in this competition so far will certainly go a long way to helping him achieve his dream.

Good luck for July, Alex!

Back in the Crease

There is no sweeter sound than that of a leather cricket ball cracking the centre of a cricket bat on an early summer’s day, with the knowledge that there will be many more sounds and sights of this much-loved game, that we have craved for such a long time, to come.

The estate has been buzzing all week with the sights and sounds of cricket. From our youngest Prep boys in Y3 learning to bowl for the first time to our Upper boys honing their batting and fielding skills, the excitement building is palpable.

Fourth Former, Fred Dickson said after his games lesson on Thursday, “It feels wonderful just having the opportunity to play with my friends again whilst playing a sport we all love. We have all missed this so much so it’s great to be back doing it.”

Fixtures are back

While not everything is quite back to normal (several schools are still not playing, and much of our cricket has to remain in year group bubbles), we can look forward to a fairly full set of fixtures for both the Prep and Upper School. The National T20 is taking place, albeit with fewer schools than usual taking part; we have entered and will be playing Wellingborough on 4 May. We will also play Stowe in the U17 National Cup on 29 April. The English School’s Cricket Association (formerly the Lord’s Taverners Cup) will be played at U16 this year instead of U15, and we have been given a home draw against Oakham (date TBC). The David English cup, which is a national cup at U13, will be played at U14 this year. In this competition, we have a bye, so we are waiting to see who wins through.

“It feels like everything is back to normal again when you’re out on the pitch. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to be playing cricket with my team and I’m now really excited to finally be competing against other schools this season”, explained Fourth Former Oliver Simmonds.

To help prepare the boys, the Prep School have net sessions each lunchtime for the various age groups, and the Upper School have practice sessions on Fridays after school for the U14A, U15A and 1st XI squads.

Additionally, we have a team of club coaches to assist with the games lessons, and former Oundle Director of Sport John Wake will deliver some 1:2 sessions with our spinners and seamers. The 1st XI has an excellent link with Cricket East, and one of their county coaches will support Mr Brett with the 1st XI sessions.

Director of Cricket Gary Steer told us, “It was clear to see how happy the boys were to be working hard on their cricket skills, knowing that there would be a fixture at the end of the week against another school. Without doubt, it gives the boys more focus and certainly something to look forward to because that is the bit the boys love the most, playing fixtures.”

First Fixture

On Saturday 17 April, our 1st XI beat Framlingham College by four wickets in their first school fixture in over a year. With Framlingham winning the toss, Bedford went into bat first. Bedford posted 216-6 from 40 overs on a wicket that got better throughout the day, and built two strong partnerships to reach that competitive total. Framlingham got off to a very strong start with the bat, but the boys showed fantastic character and weathered the early storm. Framlingham were 72-1 at one stage, but were bowled out for 131 in 27 overs to give Bedford a fantastic 85 run victory to start the season.

Key batting performances:

Archie Houghton 63
Rowan Bascetta-Pollitt 40
Rohan Mehmi 37
Henry Warren 28

Key bowling performances:

Dilan Sheemar 6-1-10-3
Rohan Mehmi 4-0-21-3
Piratheesh Karunakaran 3.5-0-14-2
Archie Houghton 6-1-34-2

Boys’ Charity 50k Walk for Parkinson’s UK

Fifth Former Joseph Hart and three of his friends walked 50km (31 miles) around the city of Cambridge on Easter Saturday in aid of Parkinson’s UK, raising £4,100 to date.

The boys, who all have personal experiences of Parkinson’s disease, decided they wanted to do their bit to help speed up a cure, which is currently due for roll out in 2024. Jack’s own grandfather sadly died with Parkinson’s in 2015, after a long battle with the disease. The grandmother of another of the boys undertaking the charity walk was diagnosed in 2016 and, while her condition is progressively getting worse, she is fighting hard against the neurological disorder.   

The boys’ route incorporated the 31 colleges of the University of Cambridge, which accounted for approximately 10km. For the remainder of the walk, they followed the River Cam to the point it meets the River Great Ouse, south of Little Thetford near Ely. They set off in the early hours of Saturday 3 April, and completed the walk in under 11 hours with only a 30 minute break.

Joseph told us, “The disease had a major impact on some of our lives, and we would like to give as much as we can. This was by far one of the hardest things physically and mentally we all have ever done. We limped over to the finish line (in front of the gates of our prep school) and stood for a picture and then collapsed several seconds later!

“Reflecting back it was one of the most rewarding moments I’ve ever had. Although I had countless blisters on my feet it was all worth it. Our original target was £500, and insanely so far we are at £4,100. This is a staggering total and far from what we were expecting to receive. Looking forward into the future we would definitely like to take on another challenge like this in the summer to keep raising money for the Parkinson’s cure as it’s soon to be rolled out.”

If you would like to support the boys, you can donate via their Just Giving page here.