What makes Ampleforth so special? Why do people keep coming back to the valley throughout their lives?
Is it the tranquillity and beauty of the place? The grandeur of the buildings? The kindness and wisdom of the monks? The memory of happy times, learning and growing? Or is it something that runs deeper, something more difficult to explain?
It has been said that people who leave Ampleforth for the wider world take with them a ‘compass for life’ – a personal direction finder that will always allow them to hold onto their moral bearings; to seek their own true north, even when life is treating them roughly. This is not the arrogance or overweening self-confidence of youth but a quiet, steady sense of one’s place in the world.
Of course, the first-class teaching and outstanding, all-round education, the broad social experience, the magnificent setting and facilities have something to do with this. Where Ampleforth is truly different, however, is in the Benedictine ethos that forms the bedrock of everything that happens in the College and St Martin’s Ampleforth. Compassion, inclusion and generosity, not always easy to find in the modern world, are just three of St Benedict’s principles.
This idea of a compass means different things to different people. Rather than try to explain it ourselves, we’ve invited a number of Old Amplefordians to tell their own stories. We hope you enjoy reading them.