Bedford School helped to make a little piece of history this week, in addition to making national and international headlines, when it transformed its Great Hall into a temporary sorting office and rallied its community for national hero, Captain Tom Moore.
Since raising a staggering £28 million for NHS Charities Together, Captain Tom has been flooded with tens of thousands of 100th birthday cards from all around the world, all of which descended upon the small village post office in Marston Mortaine where he lives with his family.
Captain Tom’s grandson, Benjie Ingram-Moore, who played a key role in promoting his Grandfather’s feat, turned to his school for help when he learned that the post office was being swamped with cards.
Hugh Maltby, Director of Bedford School Association who was approached by Benjie said, “Benjie has been such an inspiration in his Grandfather’s campaign that we wanted to offer a way of giving back. When the family told us about all the cards being received at their local post office, I didn’t hesitate to offer school’s support to help open and display the cards.”
And so, after conversations between Captain Moore’s family and the school, Captain Tom’s Sorting Office (aka our Great Hall) was declared open. However, little did we know how colossal this task would be and within just 24-hours of receiving the first batch of cards, we had national TV channels fighting over access to our Great Hall!
It has been wonderful to see the strength and widespread reach of the Bedford community. Over 100 volunteers from across the school community have come forward to help, including staff, boys, Old Bedfordians, current and former parents and many of their family members. A strict shift rota (to ensure that social distancing rules were adhered to) was put in place with card opening continuing over the weekend.
By strange coincidence, the Post Office Head of Corporate Responsibility, Mark Cazaly also an Old Bedfordian, has led the massive operation at the Post Office – the scale of which they have not seen for over thirty years. Even the local policeman, Inspector Nick Masters, offering us additional security advice is an Old Bedfordian!
Chris Jones, the master in charge of the school’s nature reserve, his wife and members of his local village are busy sorting through and collecting all of the stamps to donate to both national and local charities – quite a task on its own.
James Hodgson, Head Master, said, “We are so very proud to see how far Benjie has come with this – the story of his Grandfather, Captain Tom Moore, has captured the nation and is a real affirmation of people’s kindness. We are honoured to offer our Great Hall at Bedford School with our team of volunteers to act as both a makeshift sorting office and a place to display the incredible number of 100th birthday cards.”