I really enjoyed attending the Instow Cross Country event with all the Junior School pupils yesterday at Bideford College playing fields.  Part of that was being able to chat to the children as we walked them across and back, but it was also seeing them all taking part in such a public event and how they managed themselves in those circumstances.

I was especially proud of our Year 3 pupils and April in Year 4. There is a lovely side to an event such as this where there can be multiple levels of achievement; the race to win, where there can be only one winner, the race to improve one’s performance from the last time; for some it may be about completing the course without pausing to have a rest or walking, and then for some it will be about starting and completing the event. I remember listening to a hugely inspirational talk given by Chris Akabusi some time ago, where he talked about winning a bronze medal at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. At the time he was asked whether he was disappointed about not winning gold. His response was how could he be disappointed? He achieved his best personal time ever, broke the British record at the same time, but on the day there were two other athletes competing who happened to be better. He did his best, gave it all he had – who could ask for more? His point was you should always strive to do your best, and if you do that, no one can ask for more and no one should be disappointed about being beaten by the best in the world.

All of the Year 3 pupils did their best and completed the course, with some achieving high places in a very large contingent of runners. I was particularly proud of April in Year 4 and Erin in Year6 who ran on their own in their races, both competing strongly all the way to the end.

This week we have had a visiting pupil in Year 5 – despite never having run a cross country race, and finding the walk to the playing fields something of a challenge, I was thrilled when, having seen the girls race and how well they competed, he decided he was going to take part in the Year 5 boys race. It was clearly a huge challenge for him, but he was supported all the way around by the Year 5 pupils, and when he completed the course he was thrilled at what he had so unexpectedly achieved – and so were we! The credit for that goes to his classmates who both inspired him and then encouraged him as he took part. This level of care and consideration amongst the pupils for each other is excellent and so reflective of the school’s Methodist ethos. So well done to all the pupils for their participation yesterday, to Lulu Goaman for an outstanding first place in the Year 5 girls race, and to our Year 6 boys, who collectively performed strongly as a team.

On a similar note, a final well done to Year 6 for organising such a successful cake sale today to enable us to sponsor a child through their education in Uganda through the excellent local charity Edukid. This is a big commitment and I am proud that the pupils have risen to the task with such enthusiasm. My thanks also to all the bakers who prepared the wonderful array of cakes that were sold.

And finally a personal thanks to everyone for all the messages of good will and treats I received yesterday as I crossed a significant personal threshold. You are as young as you feel, I believe, which means I should be entering Y11 in September! Have a great weekend!

Matthew Lovett, 17.03.2017