Third Form Foundation Fortnight
Nine new boys joined the Rigg's community at the start of September (well, eight 3rd formers and one slightly older 'new boy' who was to be the new Housemaster), and the new term began with a very busy programme of activities and orientation known as the Foundation Fortnight. Despite the sheer size of the school campus, it wasn't long before the boys were able to tell you where the 'Main School B's' were, what "grot" is, and who was "schweffing", who was "booning", and who was simply a "beef". An introduction to all the major sports showed considerable promise in the new Riggite's, and I was delighted to hear from the head of J14 rowing that the Rigg's boys were the "standout" House in the introduction to rowing. The top spot in Bumpers may well be safe for a little while longer, even if the House is now being run by a 'dry bob'.
Speaking of 'dry bobs', special mention must go to Oscar Dickins in the 3rd form whose performance in the New Boys' Race was quite magnificent. Not only did Oscar take the win in the race, but he also smashed the record on the 2.3km course by a whopping 16 seconds! A first trophy of the year for Rigg's - albeit an individual one - and hopefully there will be many more to come for the House this year. Oscar went on the following week to win a further trophy, representing the Hunt for the first time at the Manchester Relays, where his performance was largely instrumental in the team winning the trophy for the first time. It didn't take long for young Master Dickins to get his name and face in print, and the Dickins scrapbook is filling up already, with mentions in both the US Running Times and - far more impressively - the Shropshire Star.
Whilst individual achievements have already been made by the 3rd formers (and I have enjoyed their contributions tremendously, whether it be Lawrence Hartley's violin performances or Charlie Cooke's goal-scoring exploits for the Rigg's B Leagues football team), I am delighted that the boys have settled into the House and feel a part of the community that is Rigg's. I am grateful in particular to the Upper Sixth (and my Head of House and deputies in particular), and also to the 4th form who (on the whole!) have helped the 3rd form settle in well.
A New Regime
The first month has been an adaptive process - both for the boys and for myself - but certainly for us as a family we feel settled and welcomed and are very much enjoying life in Rigg's. Eleven Housemasters have steered the House through its 150 year history - I feel a real privilege and honour in becoming the twelfth Housemaster, and certainly feel a responsibility not only for the welfare and development of the 50-odd boys in house (note the hyphen...) but also a responsibility for maintaining the heritage and history of a house that has always prided itself on being a little bit different, a 'cut above the rest' if you like! Certainly I have tried to stress to the boys the importance of standing out for the right reasons, and for gaining a positive reputation around the school community for being upstanding gentlemen and future citizens of the world.
One feature of the last month that I can confidently say will not have occurred in any other house was in fact not an initiative coming from the new Housemaster, but rather one of the Upper Sixth (who shall remain nameless for fear of revenge attacks). I had mentioned in passing to a few of our Upper Sixth that matron and I were finding it a little tedious getting the same small handful of lower sixth boys out of their beds in the morning. Solution? Well, this quick-thinking innovator suggested that it might be a good idea to use one of the House's prize assets - namely, the resident bagpiper Tom Fitzpatrick. And so a plan was born. Sworn to secrecy, the Upper Sixth remained tight-lipped about the new initiative, which was unveiled in a surprise noise-bombardment at approximately 7am on Tuesday 27th September. Standing outside the doorways of Messrs Adeyefa, Kemp and Afanasiev, Tom's pipes played as sweetly as they had ever before, though perhaps their melliflous melodies were not quite appreciated by said trio. No doubt these ambush tactics will be employed on future occasions, possibly with reinforcements...
The Sponsored Walk
Once every five years a strange thing happens in Shrewsbury - we abandon our books, head for the hills, and embark on an epic pilgrimage of 20 miles in the Shropshire valleys, the idea being that every single pupil at the school is given the opportunity to experience the walk in their time here. We were blessed with quite magnificent weather for the day, and given that we were walking in late September (when in previous years one might have quite reasonably expected cold weather, driving rain and even snow showers), it was an absolute pleasure to be walking in such glorious sunshine and heat. Freddie Perkins and Alex Norman found time to play their trumpets at the half-lunch stop, whilst many of our sixth form decided to run significant chunks of the course. Fred Day - having unadvisedly squeezed into a pair of ill-fitting fell shoes - managed to come home as the 8th fastest in the whole school, a tremendous achievement. Fellow Sixth Former James Aston was particularly proud to announce that he was almost certainly the only current Salopian to have completed the Sponsored Walk twice (the first time being when his father David was Housemaster here in Rigg's, though whether James at five years old actually walked the entirety of the 20 miles remains a little doubtful!) Sam Lapage not only ran much of the route, but also did so in a pair of flip-flops, rarely seen footwear in such endurance events, and certainly not something I have ever considered in a marathon event. Any Kenyans or Ethiopians who might have been out in the Shropshire hills that day (and why not?) would have been more acquainted with Paddy Lynch-Staunton's podalic selection (good word of the day there): indeed, Paddy completed the entire 20 mile course wearing no shoes. Of any description. Even if you haven't walked over 'The Stiperstones', the very name gives one a sense of their jagged jurassic inhospitality to man, let alone a toga-wearing Salopian with no shoes on. Needless to say, the barefoot warrior returned largely unscathed, and a good long foot soak in the Rigg's quad afterwards soon restored young Lynch-Staunton's feet to their previous cherubic smoothness.
The sponsorship money is now trickling in, and I am encouraging the boys to do some fundraising over the half-term break if they have not already done so (the deadline for collecting sponsorship is the start of November). The Shewsy is a great cause, and the school has (solely) supported this Everton-based youthclub for over 100 years: without our support the tremendous good work they do there would almost certainly fall away. Whilst the sponsored walk was undoubtedly tremendous fun and a great day for whole-school morale, there was a very good reason behind embarking on such an enterprise, and I am pleased that each of the boys has sensed that their efforts in fundraising will really make a difference.
Special individual mention must go to the three Riggite's who contributed to the spectacular 1st XI win in the National HMC T20 championships, where Shrewsbury were crowned national champions at Arundel on 7th September. Toby Harvey-Scholes was selected to travel with the squad as the team's scorer, and his contributions were certainly valued. However, it was James Aston and Jack Bailey's contributions on the field that require particular commendation. Jack's solid innings with the bat in particular was instrumental in the victory, and he should be rightly proud of his achievement, as indeed should all three. James is hopeful that the Rigg's 1st House cricket team could challenge for the trophy this year, so watch this space!
Also on a cricketing note, as I'm sure many of you will be aware, Old Salopian and Riggite James Taylor (2003-2008) made cricketing headlines by captaining the England Lions against Sri Lanka A in a three-match series over the summer (and contributing two centuries in the process). His successes with the Lions was recognised, and we were delighted to hear that James received his first full England cap when he was selected for the one-day-international against Ireland. No doubt there will be many more caps to come, and hopefully a few more runs!
Captions for the vertical photos:
1) Oscar Dickins wins the New Boys' Race in style, smashing the course record by 16 seconds!
2) Oscar Dickins represents the Hunt and plays key role in winning the Manchester Relays trophy for the first time
3) Tom Fitzpatrick wakens the house at 7am with the dulcet tones of his bagpipes
4) Lunchtime on the recent Sponsored Walk sees Freddie Perkins provide musical respite for all the tired bodies out on the Shropshire Hills!
6) Merlin Dickins and Ollie Kemp with smiles on their faces during the Sponsored Walk- lunch was in sight!
7) Paddy Lynch-Staunton soothes his weary feet after walking the entirety of the 20 mile Sponsored Walk barefoot (note the book in hand - Rigg's boys are a studious lot!)