Half-term is upon us, and everyone has departed for a well-earned rest. Years 11, 12 and 13 have recently had their mock exams in preparation for forthcoming public exams, and the other students have had their Flagged Assessments, helping to ensure that everyone is focused on achieving their best results.  Year 11 finished the half term with their retreat to Whitby, led by members of our Manquehue community here at Ampleforth.

While most of our students will be relaxing, members of our Riding Team will be busy this half term. Three of them are taking part in a Tori Peters Dressage Clinic. Tori rides to national and international level Dressage, produces horses and runs training clinics for up and coming dressage stars. Eight members of the team are also taking part in a Show Jumping Clinic with Tom Whittaker. Mrs Cook, who is in charge of the Equestrian team here at Ampleforth, is hoping that the riders will be inspired and ready for their next competition on 25th February. We have further Dressage and Show Jumping clinics at Easter, this time with Old Amplefordian Christopher Bartle, who is the British Eventing Team’s High Performance Coach.

We’ve recently welcomed several of our feeder Prep School head teachers to Ampleforth. Mr Mulryne from nearby Terrington Hall has visited, as has Mr Bailey from Mowden Hall, who was greeted enthusiastically by several of his former students when he arrived. We were also very pleased to meet Mr Knight, the new headmaster at Belhaven School in Scotland.  One of our current students from Belhaven, Joe Mitchell in Year 9, is very hopeful that the Ampleforth Pipe Band will be able to stop off at Belhaven on their way back from a forthcoming piping competition in Edinburgh, to play for the pupils at his former school. Just after half-term we’ll be welcoming children from many of our Prep Schools for the Academic and Basil Hume scholarships, so we wish them well as they prepare for this important culmination to their time at their current schools.

Two of our students, Chris Too in Year 12 and Cecilia Hornyold-Strickland in Year 9, went to Ripon Cathedral this week.  It gave Chris the opportunity to play some of his pieces in preparation for his organ diploma to the cathedral organist Tim Harper, an ex- organ scholar of Clare College, Cambridge. It was also an opportunity for Cecilia to have her first go on a cathedral organ. Cecilia has recently been accepted on to the same scholarship as Chris, the YOST (York Organ Scholars Trust), to learn organ under the tutelage of William Dore, our own organist here at Ampleforth.

Year 9 took part in a careers workshop this week led by Dominic Carter (D85), during which they had the opportunity to explore their own strengths and those of others. The workshop was lively and interactive and many of the students gave insightful answers to Dominic’s questions.  Mrs Toone, our Head of Careers, is very grateful to him for giving generously of his time to run the workshop.

Finally, we bid farewell to two students from Rosebank College, Sydney, who were with us for half a term as part of the International Benedictine Student Exchange. We hope that Georgia and Tali return to Australia with wonderful memories of their time here in the Ampleforth valley.

Many thanks to Mrs Moses who took the beautiful photograph of the sunrise over the Millennium Cross last week.