The Secret Life of our Boarding Bears

I have just finished making our son’s bed and finished it off with the obligatory act of tucking his teddy bear into bed.  James’ bear is aptly known as ‘Bear Bear’ who was given to him by a friend of ours when James was born.  We can already see at the grand age of 2 years old, Bear Bear already plays an important role in James’ life; being a comfort is Bear Bear’s primary role and when James is upset, he cuddles his bear like any other child would.  Bear Bear naturally has his own personality and I feel it is a mischievous one.  James channels a little personality from within himself, down his arm and into Bear Bear- giving the teddy a voice, thoughts and actions- mostly which are being thrown up into the air and landing face down (I’m still referring to the bear here!).  Our teddy bears are so personal to us.  When looking into their little bear’s button, glass or embroidered eyes, through a child’s own eyes, they see unconditional love and forever friendship.  My mum still has her gorgeous bear which is so thread bare, it lives in a silk bag but those eyes still look out brightly, friendly and forever young.

Naturally with having 200 children boarding, we are surrounded by bears, each with their own little personality.  These many teddy bears have been thoughtfully placed into their own cosy little area somewhere on the bed.  Some are tucked up, some live under the duvet (the boys’ bears mostly), but most sit next to or on the pillow.  Nevertheless, they all wait for their human to return, to listen to their day and to continue sharing an eternal and unspoken love.   Anyone reading this will think of their own bear and most probably will be able to recall child hood imaginaries of their own toys being enchanted and coming to life once we left the room.  The charm and enthralling life of a toy without a human around has been brought to life thanks to Jims Henson’s ‘The Secret Life of Toys’ of the 90s or the very current Toy Story 3 (2010) and The Lego®Movie (2014).  These creations keep the child within us believe that even as adults, our toys really do come to life once we have left the room!

So this leads me to share with you a very sweet story that epitomises the magic that boarding can captivate.  Cece Worsley who is in the Fours has a beautiful bear called Roly.  He is officially 55 years old and every morning he rests his weary fluffy self on Cece’s bed.  This old yet young at heart bear has no ordinary life and certainly won’t be found under the duvet or staring up at the ceiling!  Roly first belonged to Cece’s dad’s cousin, James, who decided he was too old for bears, and so left him at their granny’s house and where Cece’s dad (Charles) took him on as a lifelong friend, (Roly still has a very faded name tag saying ‘Charles Worsley’).   Roly then went to Cottesmore school with Charles (Cece’s daddy), and then lived on his old bed at Cece’s grandparent’s house.  It was then when Cece, aged three, lost her special rabbit that Charles gave her Roly to cheer her up.  I must say Roly looks like an educated bear and one that needs the old ‘fluff’ matter going.   So that must be why every morning Cece puts a book out in front of him to read and there he will stay, sitting up and ‘reading’ his favourite fairy tales until the end of the day.

Roly sitting on Cece’s bed in Orange Dorm (Girls Boarding House)

Roly must have a lot of memories to fluff over and because he is an experienced boarder, life as a boarding bear naturally comes easy to him.   So that must be why he is ‘head bear’ of the orange dorm and keeps an eye on all the other young bears while the girls are out for the day.  That is how Roly Bear has found his way, aged 55, sitting on Cece’s bed, reading about heroes’ and heroines’ adventures.  Today you’ll find him wearing a rather fetching white dressing gown with pink pyjama bottoms and sleeping next to a picture of himself in a tux! If he or any of the other bears could talk, I wonder what they will say and what happens during the day for them?  We will never know but I know a little girl who could write up an adventure or two about ‘The Secret Life of the Boarding Bears’.

But in the meantime, this poem says it all-

My Teddy Bear


He sits upon his pillowed throne


A joyous smile upon his face.


And though his ears may seem outgrown


He carries them with pride and grace.


He’s never cross or quick to carp


A friend in need is he to me.


When human tongues are mean and sharp


My teddy gives me sympathy.


To him I always bare my soul


He lifts me when I’m feeling low.


And when I brag and miss my goal


He never says, ‘I told you so.’


My friends may titter gleefully


And some may tease, but I don’t care.


I hope that I will never be


Too old to love my Teddy Bear.


Jeffrey S Foreman


The New York Times


Lucy Hallam








After a very quiet half term it is lovely to have the school back in full swing. We go to the trouble of bringing back all our C.E. candidates for half a day to calm them down and offer subject clinics. I certainly felt that they started their all-important examinations in a good frame of mind.

My wife and I were well entertained by all our Fours (Year 5) camping in the woods. They return from half term and are immediately put through their paces on Survival Night. They certainly looked like they were having great fun and there was much excitement about sleeping the night in their own self-made shelters. I did go to bed hoping it did not rain during the night!

By having school exams well before half term these next four weeks should enable all subject teachers to maintain full academic rigour within their lessons. I know it sounds marvellous in theory, all the more reason why I have challenged them all to put it into practice.

My thoughts return to our C.E. candidates. I almost feel envious of them knowing what an amazing programme has been organised for their final month at Windlesham. It is such a special time in their young lives – hopefully they have all done themselves justice and will relish the euphoria of passing their first public exams. Then there are all the mixed emotions that make their futures so exciting. Such a lot to look forward to but also considerable sadness at leaving a school that they have really come to love, friendships that will stay with them forever. What a time they have in store; I really am excited for each and every one of them.

I must begin this blog by announcing the wonderful news that we have now surpassed our record for the number of scholarships won in a year. Our tally now is 25. This is a fantastic achievement and once again I congratulate all the individuals concerned. It is important for me to acknowledge the efforts and support of the staff. Whilst some children are born with natural intelligence and talent, it is inspirational teaching and dedication that makes all the difference in gaining scholarships.

The level of support the children receive at Windlesham is all part of the procedure to ensure each individual child reaches their potential and their success at scholarships is just a small measure of what we offer.  It is worth adding as well that all our academic candidates who were not given an award have been offered places at their first choices schools so they too have made us all very proud.

Rachel and I enjoyed a very good Boarding Schools Association conference in Glasgow. It was lovely to return home to find Windlesham bathed in sunshine with a sea of cricket and rounders matches being played. What a great sight and now that our magnificent grass tennis courts are up and running, the grounds look at their very best.

School exams have come and gone very smoothly and the all-important ‘learning from one’s mistakes’ is the name of the game. Common Entrance looms ever closer for our 62 candidates so this coming week is terribly important for them as we build up to half-term.   

We have enjoyed glorious weather over the last few days and there really is no better School environment to be in than Windlesham.  Another great sight was seeing all our Twos (Year 7) taking part in their outdoor team building activities before setting off on their long trek on the South Downs plus a night’s camping. 

We were also able to enjoy a blissful early summer evening yesterday which helped to make our Sunday service in the walled garden all the more special. Our reputation for singing so well in chapel was transported outdoors to create a truly amazing atmosphere.

We do of course hope the weather holds out for next week’s half term. This is never an easy time for all the young children everywhere in the country sitting their all-important publicexaminations.  I sincerely hope all our Common Entrance candidates are able to keep calm and collected and we wish them the best of luck.

A record 25 scholarships for Year 8

A third of our Year 8 pupils have been awarded a record 25 different scholarships (Academic, Art, All-Rounder, Drama, Music and Sport) to their respective senior schools.  We are all incredibly proud of them.


BRIGHTON COLLEGE                        3

CHELTENHAM COLLEGE                 2

ETON                                                     1

HURST                                                   1

KINGS CANTERBURY                       1

LANCING                                             2

MALVERN                                            2

MARLBOROUGH                               1

MILLFIELD                                            2

MILTON ABBEY                                  1

OUNDLE                                               3

ST EDWARD’S                                    1

ST PETER’S YORK                              1

STOWE                                                 3

WELLINGTON                                     1


Catches Win Matches!

Catches win matches is a mantra known by all cricketers and on the tip of the tongue of coaches worldwide. Windlesham’s batting and bowling performance put them in a good position to overcome Cottesmore. However, our visitors were able to punch the air in celebration of drawing this match after their 23 overs, as Windlesham put down seven chances.

The match was moved to the new astro strip as the main square was too sodden for senior cricketers. Myers and Law worked hard against a good opening attack, until Myers edged an away swinger to the ‘keeper. Scott was bowled by a good off-cutter, leaving Law and Moir to steady things at 22 for 2. These two put on 26 before Moir was bowled for 11, followed by Outhwaite for 1 and then Law for a solid 29, with Windlesham in a spot of trouble at 57 for 5. Milne and Line played intelligently, rotating the strike and keeping the score ticking over with singles. Once they got the measure of the excellent batting surface the pair started to play some fine attacking shots, with both clearing the boundary and taking the Cottesmore bowlers and fielders on. This was a super partnership of 78 runs, with Milne being run out in the last over for a well-played 27, as Line carried his bat for an entertaining 41 not out, for Cottesmore to chase 137 for victory.

Our visitors got off to a cracking start with their opener cracking six fours in his brief stay at the crease, before Law hung onto a very fierce shot off the bowling of Albertyn. Meanwhile, Moir had been bowling well and picked up two wickets, with Line stumping another off Albertyn’s bowling to reduce Cottesmore to 43 for 4. Windlesham then let things drift and lost concentration as a succession of catches went up and were dropped. Milne and Moir grabbed a wicket each in between the dropped chances and with three overs to go Cottesmore were 87 for 8. Their number six benefitted most from our lack of concentration giving four chances and it was he, who come the final over, was able to block out a maiden, much to the delight of his team-mates and the visiting parents on the boundary edge.

May 10th – Windlesham v Cottesmore (H) – Draw

Windlesham 136 for 6 in 27 overs (C Line 41*, t Law 29, C Milne 27) Cottesmore 92 in 23 overs (L Moir 3/19,
C Albertyn 2/30)

I think we know what will be happening at practice this week!

Chris Fletcher

Brighton Breezy Win For 1st XI

Windlesham lost early wickets, but rallied to nudge past 100 in this T20 match at Brighton College, before ripping out our hosts’ middle-order to seal a comfortable victory.

Law fell to a good catch, whilst Line and Moir were bowled in quick succession and Windlesham were in trouble at 9 for 3. Scott and Myers steadied things, before Scott fell to a rapid delivery from their fast bowler. Healy was then cruelly run out at the non-striker’s end, as the bowler deflected a straight drive on to the stumps as he was backing up. Milne and Outhwaite played sensibly, keeping out the good ball and crashing any loose deliveries to the boundary, as they put on 35 crucial runs. Haines-Moss and Hill continued to support Outhwaite as he went on to score 31, to help the team to 107 for 8 in their 20 overs.

A mix up with match tea saw Windlesham go without; but thankfully, Mrs Law had brought her larder to Brighton and the boys got stuck into some goodies!

Moir struck with his third ball; Hill, with one stump to aim at, then ran out the other opener, which raised the level of excitement in the team. Myers got an LBW with his second ball and then Moir yorked their number four to have our hosts reeling at 17 for 4. Milne’s first over was a maiden and his second saw him hit the stumps three times to reduce Brighton to 23 for 7! Myers’ picked up his second wicket with a caught and bowled and Haines-Moss, much to the delight of his American cousins on the boundary edge took a wicket to make it 38 for 9. Windlesham took their foot off the gas as they felt Brighton’s task was now mammoth and with three slips and gully to some of our bowlers, runs were leaked, until Outhwaite took a super catch off Law’s bowling to dismiss Brighton for 71 off the last ball.

May 7th – Windlesham v Brighton Prep (A) – Won by 36 runs

Windlesham 107 in 20 overs (T Outhwaite 31, C Milne 14, F Scott 13)
Brighton 71 in 19.5 overs  (C Milne 3/7, O Myers 2/9, L Moir 2/15)

This was a much stronger performance from Windlesham and one that will hopefully ignite the boys to take even greater pride in their performance for the team.

Chris Fletcher

The network in overdrive

There is no doubt that alumni of all ages continue down the years to cherish their connections with the school. Stephen Durnford from the 50s enjoys visiting the school periodically and was delighted to note another recent Windlesham scholarship to his ‘old’ senior school, King’s Canterbury. Likewise, during the Easter break, it was marvellous to be able to meet up again with Mary Bassett on Jersey – she sends greetings to all her contemporaries from the early 70s.

Recalling my own participation some years ago, I was able to celebrate my birthday this year by watching in person the London Marathon and striving to spot not only my niece, but all the alumni involved. I was able to use all the wonderful apps to keep track of things, but it needs knowledge of the running number and anyway there are always some I don’t hear about until a while after the event. I mentioned in my last Blog the great efforts of Jessica Harber, Emily Bull, Martha Lambert, Georgina Richards, Imogen (Minnie) Griffiths and Tom Malcolm-Green, but so too were Izzy Ohlson and Chris Wakeford and his father Mark pounding the streets of the capital for charitable causes. Well done to all concerned, for although the weather brought out the very supportive huge crowds, it may well have made it all a little too warm for the runners!

An alumna who has only recently left us after teaching here for a couple of years is Sophie Inglis and it was lovely to hear that she and Gabriel Piers-Mantell had announced their engagement on April 2nd. Then later in the month on April 26th there were wonderful events in Val d’Isere as Caz McKenzie-Hill married Freddie James. This happy occasion actually took place in a spectacular open air setting on the Cap d’Iseran,  with Susan Byam-Cook and Alice Hues (nee Glover) as bridesmaids. Not surprisingly this caught the attention of the local press and so Caz and Freddie enjoyed many column inches recording their special day.

Also on May 3rd Jean Richardson was married in a very happy ceremony to Alexander Goodman. There are some delighted new parents to congratulate too. Suzy (nee Hoodless) and Erskine Berry have a third child, a son Tarka William, brother for Misty and Myla, born on March 25th. Alex Gisbert and his wife Julie now have a son, Oliver Angus, born (quite neatly for those of a mathematical bent) on 14/04/14. Their twin daughters Becca and Maddie are delighted to have a new brother. Also Laura (nee Fergusson) and Max Kenworthy have a second child, Samuel George, born on April 17th, a brother for Grace.

We have recently heard of the deaths of two great friends of the school, the first of whom was Pen Kent, a former Director of the Bank of England and grandfather to Oliver. Pen died on December 30th and last Wednesday Rachel and I were privileged to represent the school and attend at the Bank a celebration of his life. Also former British Ambassador, Sir Richard Best, father of John, died on March 7th and both men had appropriately fulsome obituaries in the national press.

In the media recently another former British Ambassador, Sir Roderick Lyne, father of Jethro, Andrei and Sasha was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on April 17th in a discussion about the issue of Russia’s relationship with Ukraine. Abigail (nee Chisman) Murray, owner of Designer Jumble, a roving vintage fashion store currently at Westfield Stratford in east London, had an article about her company’s latest project in the Independent on Sunday on April 27th. Also a couple of days ago Harriet Torry, Berlin Correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, was interviewed on Al Jazeera America, talking about Chancellor Merkel’s visit to the States.

An extraordinary piece appeared in the Daily Mail ten days ago about Ben Jaconelli, founder of e-bike retailer, Fully Charged. It appears that his own e-bike was stolen and the thief then contacted the company enquiring about a charger for it. Needless to say in a Ben story matters then escalated (too long to tell here), until the eventual police involvement led to the bike’s return from the thief by taxi! This bit of publicity has been subsequently followed by an article in the Daily Telegraph about the e-bike revolution and the part that Ben’s company is playing in it.

Talking of playing parts, there are now two alumni acting on the ‘London stage.’ In addition to Pierro Niel-Mee, who is with the RSC which has now transferred its ‘Wolf Hall/Bring up the Bodies’ to the Aldwych, Rupert Baldwin is involved in the production of ‘Titus Andronicus’ at the Globe which has received many column inches recently about the bloodthirsty nature of the play.

There are two pieces of serendipity for this Blog – the first is provided by Patrick Douglas, who finds himself presently working with Athene Church establishing schools in north western Zambia. Secondly, Nick Geoghegan was delighted to attend a marketing conference the other day, at which a presentation was given by Georgia Malden, who proceeded to demonstrate her credentials with a lovely image in her power-point of her parents, his joint heads, Mr & Mrs Charles, at their graduation ceremony! What an amazing and much-to-be-cherished network this is.

Two weeks into the summer term and I am writing my first blog; I do apologise! No excuses other than a reflection of how full on things have been right from the start. Difficult to know where to begin, suffice to say it has been an excellent two weeks. As I said previously in my newsletter, my parents always used to say ‘time flies by when you are busy and/or happy’. I believe this is a good explanation of how I feel and my hope would be that this applies to everyone at Windlesham.

We were delighted to welcome 25 new children into the school this term and we will soon have a few more ‘short stays’ descending on us for the second half of the term. It does mean we are full to overflowing which is a lovely position to be in. I am amazed by how many prospective parents we are seeing which occupies a huge amount of my time. No wonder we have taken on a new person in our Marketing & Admissions Department. I am equally pleased about the appointment of an Estates Bursar and a Director of Development. Read into this what you will but it sends out a powerful message that we are definitely not standing still; quite the reverse. These are exciting times at Windlesham!

Talking of excitement, a very large contingent of the school will travel up to Dulwich College on Thursday for our Music Concert. I listened to the Chapel choir rehearse on Monday and was most impressed by their performance.

Not many children can get the opportunity to play a round of golf at Valderrama so you can imagine my delight in seeing 10 of our golfers lined up on the practice ground this last weekend. That in itself is quite an experience but to then actually play the course was like being in a dream. My two sons had joined me on this little trip and we shall hold on the memory years to come.

The school is in great heart even with Common Entrance and school exams looming ever closer.

Secret Boarder

We have announced that Secret Boarder is for this week!  We have chosen one girl and one boy boarder to represent the house.  If they have a full week with no crosses then the respective boarding house will get rewarded!  We think that chocolate bars are on the menu as a welcome addition to treat night on Friday!

Remember that no one knows who the secret boarders are….so that means EVERYONE is on best behaviour!

Looking forward to Friday!

Here comes the Sun, Cucumber Sandwiches and the Odd Shower of Rain




This May is proving to be true to form with the spring showers…. We don’t know if we’re coming or going amongst the rain and the glorious sunshine!  However, we have welcomed all of our boarders back with open arms and the usual bright smiles to start the term off.  We have a record 21 new permanent children starting this summer term, (when we say permanent this means children who are with us for their schooling at WHS).  We are still yet to welcome our international short short stay children in the latter part of the summer term and they will only be with us until July, but until then, we are thrilled to have 14 of the 21 new children as boarders (9 boys and 5 girls).

The Ones are in good spirit and there is a lovely atmosphere in dorms as they settle into their final term at school.  They are also in for a treat this term since we have introduced for the second time running, a ‘Ones’ Privilege Night’.  We have set the tone with pot noodles for the boys and chocolate brownies for the girls though it will change weekly with what they will have.  We have done privilege night in order to elevate the year group away from the rest of the boarding house and to acknowledge their final term and status within the school.  It doesn’t come free to them though-unfortunately they have to work at getting the treat and enjoying the comfy room with their peers.  The Ones simply have to have no more than two crosses over the week and to make sure they have done all of their ‘chores’ the evening of their treat (basically, showering, clothes into laundry and putting clothes out for the next day).  With this now happening for the Ones, they can enjoy a fantastic weekly routine of TV nights, privilege night, dorm of the week night and treat night!  Not bad and that doesn’t include their regular evening activities and weekend fun!

The Summer term is always full of nostalgia and I must write the obligatory sentence ‘There is nowhere better than life in an English prep boarding school in the summer: hearing the cricket bat knock the ball for six accompanied by light clapping and followed by the obligatory cucumber sandwich at tea, epitomises summer term bliss and the making of childhood memories’.  It is such a pleasure to be part of this world that can only exist at Windlesham House and we are forever reaching out and drawing new children and parents in.    Our marketing team are working incredibly hard but we all know that the school sells itself.  Turning onto the drive and being presented with the most beautifully manicured pitches, the Queen Ann style house sits deep amongst the most stunning and green setting, always giving the wow factor- whatever the weather. 

Mr and Mrs Foster are always busy showing prospective parents and their children around the school.  As for boarding, we are endlessly enjoying having children come and stay here overnight as part of their taster day.  In particular, we are proud to have our own children give the prospective parents a full tour of the school and answer questions they may have.  We always emphasise that new children have a host in the dorms to look after them and they show the overnight child the ropes during their time here.

It is interesting to hear parents’ observations about each boarding house.  And whilst I’m on the subject, I would like to emphasise the obvious differences between the girls’ boarding house and boys’ house that always comes up in conversation.  To all parents who have mixed gender off spring, I’m sure you have will have clearly noticed the differences between the children in their everyday behaviours, manners, routines, socialisation and their play.  I apologise before I go on but I am about to outline stereotypical gender differences.  Girls are mostly noted for talking excitedly and yet adore sitting quietly and colouring, dressing their dolls, playing dress up and making things pretty (whilst obsessing on what pair of shoes they are going to try on from their Mummy’s collection).  Boys on the other hand love action, watching it and being part of it.  They love things that move and taking things apart to see the mechanical insides.  They are far more into their physical being and research shows male babies prefer to look at a mobile with a collection of items and colours over a single face (team mates?).  It is common knowledge that girls are keen to communicate and enjoy one on one chat full of emotion and feeding their dreams but when they fall out, they fight silently:  Boys will fall in and out friendships and reconcile with a punch followed by a hand shake.

It is all of the above that makes serving their environments even more so appropriate and important.  It is these two different environments and the result of the gender differences that are what creates a talking point amongst visiting colleagues and prospective parents at WHS.  

So let me illustrate what you would classically see in any boarding house. Our girls’ boarding house is gloriously pink, purple and pastel green with polka dot curtains, colourful rugs, bunting and soft low level lamps.  Their bedside tables are cluttered or beautifully organised in some cases, with creams, lip balm, lotions and colourful hair ties.  The walls are certainly where it is all happening!  Girls put their ‘lives’ on show and use anything they can to represent their personalities.  Most dorms are buzzing with colour and things to look at.  The walls are completely adorned with posters of people and celebrities they admire, designer paper bags, trinkets from friends, and postcards from family holidays and friends living afar.  The girls ensure there are as many photos montaged together full of familiar faces and fond memories.  It is a constant matron’s headache asking the girls to bring in a capsule wardrobe for the term!  It can always be guaranteed the drawers fill up with new and favourite clothing until the drawers are fit to burst!  The dorms are just full to the brim with girly items of clashing colourful teddies and duvets…. Just like ‘An Englishman’s home is his castle’….when it comes to girls boarding- ‘Each bed is a little girl’s palace’.

Most of the time, when a prospective parent comes to view the school they will visit the boys’ boarding house after having seen and witnessed the girls dorms.  Mostly they look baffled as to why the boys’ dorms are so intrinsically different.  Naturally we talk about how we have parity as much as we can when it comes to meeting their needs- though the boys don’t need 15 more minutes to wash and dry their hair (but if they ask they can have it!).  The stark differences in the boys’ dorms are the minimal wall decorations and personal photos plus other home related items.  I need to stress that this is not without trying on our part.  We reduced the size of the notice boards to make them more appealing to put items up and also dorm poster competitions, but alas… to no avail.  It boils down to boys not wanting to put their lives on show but rather in their cupboards.  If one was to be invited to look inside each individual’s cupboard, they will see the boys most treasured items located in their own carefully selected place.  I politely asked to look inside a selection of cupboards and apart from being superbly tidy (yes… tidy!), there are neat piles of family photos, postcards, match attack cards, sticker books, torches, intricate Lego models, chess sets, drafts, top trumps, books for boys, magazines, grooming kits, ‘make your own model aeroplane’ kit and much more.  Saying this, there are always teddy bears and football related duvet covers to set the conversation and league table debates going! 

So therefore, these are things that clearly can’t be put up on the wall but these items mean just as much to boys as do the posters and trinkets for the girls.   So in reflection, we have painted the boys’ dormitories bold yet bright, light and airy colours.  They are like how a boy’s bedroom would be at home… just a bit bigger and a lot busier.  Nevertheless, we have encapsulated a boy’s bedroom and they are welcome to decorate them as much or as little as they want.

Lucy Hallam

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