Great Results International Canoe Race
Eleven members of the Canoe Racing Team took part in the gruelling 2017 Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race, racing 125 miles over four days and negotiating 77 portages. The three months of hard training and racing during the Spring Term truly paid off as the team achieved phenomenal results. The race is a severe test of skill, physical and mental stamina and planning which produces a memorable sense of achievement for those successfully completing it.
Joe White and Charlie Morris (Down's School) finished an outstanding 16th out of 90 junior crews. Sam Taylor and Gus Gresswell showed tremendous leadership and team spirit, coming 9th in the U17 race, and providing a lead for Mantha Unsworth-White and Bobby Burnand who went on to win the School's Mixed race. Jess Gardner and Julia Huntingford won the Schools Ladies Race. Alastair Johnson-Ferguson and Will Hones proved their determination to complete the race alongside Alice Channon and Sophie Donne, with both crews performing superbly in the largest field in the history of the race.
Meanwhile, the winners of last year's Junior Doubles, Dougal Glaisher and Francis Huntingford, have continued to progress to the highest levels in the country; both competed in GB selection races in the U18 and U23 categories respectively this holiday. Dougal has been selected to join the U18 GB Development Team and will represent his country in Germany in May. Dougal also competed in the final Waterside race, winning both the race and the Series. Our thanks go to Kirton Kayaks and Taylor-Ross Kayaks for sponsoring the Canoe Squad boats.
Spring Term 2017
A first for the girls at Rosslyn Park
The Blundell's Under 18 girls' rugby team were runner-ups at the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens – a major achievement as many of them only took up the sport this term so the team have gone from beginners to prize winners in less than ten weeks. It is also the first time that a girls' team from the school has entered the competition.
The Blundell's girls' team were one of forty competing in the Under 18 National Sevens Girls' competition. In the first round, they came top of their group, which took them into the quarter final where they won against Neath Port Talbot College 31-21. In the semi-final, they beat Haileybury Girls 28-24, setting them up for the final against Amman Valley, winners for the last two years. It was a tough game against the more seasoned players, although Blundell's led for the first part of the match, with the final score 12-10 to the Welsh team. The Blundell's girls were thrilled to have reached the final after only coming together to play rugby so recently.
As always, Blundell's also fielded Under 18, Under 16 and Under 14 boys' teams at Rosslyn Park. The U18s, one of 226 teams competing in that age group, got off to a cracking start in the first round, with some phenomenal wins against schools such as Bristol Grammar and Taunton, scoring a total of 150 points with only seven against, and then through the elimination round against Bloxham School 42-12 but lost out in their next two group matches. The U16s made it through to the quarter finals with some comfortable wins against Ivybridge Community College and Eton, amongst other schools, on the way, but narrowly lost to the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, 7-10. The U14s were third in the first round, so didn't progress further.
Around 7000 boys and girls aged 13 to 18 compete every year in the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens, with more schools applying to play every year. A significant number of current and recent England internationals tasted competitive rugby for the first time playing for their schools at the tournament. The tournament started in 1939 and has been held every year since, becoming one of the oldest continuous tournaments; the first girls (U18) competition was inaugurated in 1998.
Schools Make Music Together
The Spring Concert was an incredible experience for Blundell's musicians as they played alongside and learned from some of the country's leading instrumentalists in the London Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of Christopher Warren-Green. They were joined by pupils from Blundell's Prep, Exeter Cathedral and Uffculme Schools for the concert and for a series of workshops running up to the event.
The main body of the music for the concert was generated during three visits from the London Chamber Orchestra earlier this year. The LCO worked with twelve Blundell's musician 'mentors' to encourage their creativity in composing ideas for the fourth movement of Simple Gifts, by Paul Edlin, which they then worked on with pupils from the other three schools. The mentors also came up with the lyrics for the first movement which are now being learned by hundreds of students around the country for a concert at Cadogan Hall, London, in May. At the same time, the Blundell's Chamber Orchestra were also rehearsing for another piece that featured in the concert, the deceptively simple yet fiendishly difficult Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland, which they played with the LCO. The concert also featured Shaker Loops by John Adams, played by the LCO, and The Deer's Cry, by Arvo Pärt, performed unaccompanied by Blundell's Chamber Choir.
The project began in November when eight LCO musicians visited to spend the morning giving flash mobs at Blundell's Senior and Prep Schools and at Uffculme School. In the afternoon, the three schools took part chamber music masterclasses as well as brass ensembles and jazz groups, culminating in an informal concert. The work with the LCO has been 18 months in the planning, with the initial starting point that the project should unite the community and involve other local schools.
The Referee's View
The senior footballers welcomed referee observer Craig Cox who gave an insightful and thought-provoking presentation on the role of both referees and assistant referees at the highest level. Craig began with emphasising the pressure involved in getting every decision correct in front of thousands of supporters baying for blood! He showed us a few examples of some recent 1950's style tackles which the referee missed and why. The boys were challenged to 'spot the offside', with five high-speed examples being shown; the highest score was 2 out of 5! The evening concluded with a question and answer session, which inevitably ended with Arsenal supporters moaning! Many thanks to Craig and indeed Sarah Cox for helping to organise the evening.
Great Play by U13 Hockey Team
After taking the Devon County Champions title, the U13As went through to the West finals, where their confidence grew during the course of the games. They played six group matches and halfway through these the scores between them and the other teams were very close; Blundell's had to fight hard to gain the runner-up place in the group to progress to the semi-finals. Fortunately, having won four of the matches, the team made it through on points. They then played Millfield in the semi-finals in a very close match with end-to-end play. However, Blundell's looked dangerous in attack and eventually got a well worked goal. The Millfield side fought hard to score an equaliser in a tense match but great saves were made by the Blundell's keeper and there were crucial tackles from the defenders and midfield. With time up, Millfield were awarded a penalty corner that Blundell's dealt with extremely well but were unfortunately penalised for dangerous play, meaning yet another penalty corner. The four defenders and keeper gave it everything to eventually get the ball out of the circle – Blundell's had won and secured a place in the nationals!
The final was against Dean Close – both teams created scoring opportunities and Blundell's just missed out on the win with the final result being 1-2.
The girls worked extremely hard and should be extremely proud of their achievement; they were a real credit to the school. They'll be travelling to Nottingham for the national finals which take place on 12th May.
Congratulations to the 1st VII rugby sevens team who won the Marches Sevens trophy, widely regarded as one of the most prestigious sevens tournaments in the country and hosted by Hereford Cathedral School. It is also a key marker for potential contenders for the Rosslyn Park National Schools Sevens. This is the first time that the School has won this tournament and they came through unbeaten against Llandovery College, Hartpury College and Adams Grammar, overcoming a tough Barnard Castle School in the semi-final 19-0, and beating a skilful Millfield side in a tense final, by 22-14. Team member Oscar Kolowski was awarded player of the tournament.
There have also been successes in the West of England rugby sevens tournaments, with both the U18 and U16 teams winning and the U14s runners-up in their respective tournaments.
For the first time, Blundell's has fielded an U18 girls' team and they, together with the U18, U16 and U14 boys' teams, will be playing at Rosslyn Park.
Harsh Times for School House Actors
Actors in Years 7 and 8 rose magnificently to the challenge of taking on the roles of orphans, mill owners and other characters from Victorian times in a production of 'Far From Home'. The play is based on the companion novel to 'Street Child', which was last year's school play and told the story of how the orphaned Jim Jarvis inspired Dr Barnardo to found his children's homes. 'Far from Home' follows the fortunes of his sisters, Lizzie and Emily, who are sent north to work in the harsh conditions of the cotton mills. There were some superb performances from the young actors who showed real talent in performing this gritty tale.
Pictures of Success
The sale of photographs featured in an exhibition of work by Old Blundellians who have had successful careers as photographers or in related fields raised £630 for Cancer Research UK. The exhibition was organised by former teacher of photography Mr Steve Goodwin and marked his forty years of teaching the subject at Blundell's. Mr Goodwin returned to the School to hand over a cheque to Annabel Coakley, the charity's Local Fundraising Manager for South Devon, watched by Mrs Armstrong Williams, Director of Art, and pupils.
A group of sixth form students had a great evening learning from and chatting to a wide range of representatives from the Marketing and Communications industry. Local companies Oxygen and Optix Solutions were joined by Jo Plummer from Tropic Breeze and Claire Richardson (parent) who has a wealth of experience, much with Nestle but with some exciting developments in the near future. We hope to follow this up with an interactive brand marketing event for the students led by Claire.
Sugar Roses and Cookies
Year 12 girls of North Close once again organised a Valentine's fundraiser, but this year they were selling red roses with a difference. Instead of real flowers (difficult to source and in competition with shops), the girls attached red sugar roses to delicious cookies, generously supplied by Teoni's Cookies, and packaged them up in cellophane tied with pink ribbon. Messages to the lucky recipients were then attached and the cookies – 720 of them – were distributed during the lunch break, raising £560 for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust.
Fire Crackers, Food and Fun
Pupils at Blundell's have been celebrating the Chinese New year over the last few days in a number of ways. The International Committee organised workshops where pupils could learn to write Mao Bi (a unique Chinese calligraphy font) and the art of paper cutting, make fire crackers and sample Chinese tea. The culmination was a special lunch put on by the Catering Department with authentic food including aromatic duck pancakes, Shiitake mushroom foo yung, Sichuan prawns, custard bao bun, an exotic fruit platter, fortune cookies and prawn crackers. Everyone was encouraged to eat with chopsticks and international students were on hand to demonstrate how to use them and also give out jasmine, green and fruit teas. Lunch was accompanied by Chinese music and the Dining Hall was colourful with Chinese decorations. Congratulations to everyone involved in these fantastic events.
The Oxbridge Six
Congratulations to the six pupils who have been offered places at Oxford and Cambridge universities. Both Bertie Frankpitt and Toby Whitehead have offers for St Edmund Hall, Oxford – Bertie to read Earth Sciences and Toby for Biochemistry and he also has a choral scholarship. Harriet Nash has had an offer to read Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge, where she will be following her brother Edward to Gonville and Caius College. Three post A level students have secured places: Euan Friend to University College, Oxford to read Earth Sciences and Cameron Seymour also to Oxford to study History and Economics at Somerville College. Christopher Hamilton, last year's Head Boy, will be going to Downing College, Cambridge to read Engineering; he has also been awarded an organ scholarship.
Blundell's Head, Nicola Huggett, said 'Our six Oxbridge candidates have worked very hard to receive these much-deserved offers, not just in the academic sphere but in the life of the school as a whole; they are very busy people who have also contributed hugely to the music, sport, drama and activities such as debating at Blundell's. Eleven pupils were interviewed for Oxford or Cambridge and all deserve congratulations. The school has now had 18 successful applications to Oxbridge in the last four years, which is a tribute to the pupils' families, teachers, tutors and mentors who have supported them during their studies here.'
Other Year 13 students at Blundell's have received offers from all of their five university choices and offers are coming in for a wide range of subjects including Aeronautical Engineering, Architecture, Geophysics, Law, Broadcast Journalism and Radiotherapy and Oncology. Head girl Imogen Sanders-Dutton will be heading to the USA at the end of the month, where she has been invited for an interview at the highly prestigious Juilliard School of Drama, having received a call-back following the success of her audition tape.
Autumn Term 2016
A Musical Triumph
The musical 'Into the Woods' was the ambitious choice for Blundell's annual senior school production and the pupils rose to the challenge brilliantly. Written by the American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim, 'Into the Woods' interweaves the plots of several fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm, including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel. It explores the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests, mixing pathos, comedy and horror with fast-paced action. It was recently made into a film starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick and Johnny Depp amongst others.
All three evening performances at Blundell's were sold out and the cast received standing ovations from the audience, with several commenting that the singing was as professional as that in the film. The school's artistic director James Rochfort said 'I knew we had a particularly talented bunch of singers so it made sense to choose a musical this year for the senior production. Taking risks and challenging the students is the most important thing and anything by Sondheim is certainly a challenge, but the mix of genres and fantastic music made 'Into the Woods' an irresistible choice.'
Pupils also played in the orchestra which was in action for most of the production and others worked as stage managers, wardrobe assistants and as the lighting designer.
Off to the South West Final
Blundell's English Speaking Union team are through to the South West final after winning the district final. This was a great achievement by the team of Orlagh Noone, Anna Sides and Erica Park, not least because they were competing against teams entirely comprised of Year 11s from four other schools (whereas they are a mixed team from Year 9, 10 and 11) and Erica had to step in as questioner at the last moment. In addition, Anna who was the final speaker of the night, won best speaker of the competition for her speech on language as violence, which was delivered with conviction, knowledge and a resounding call to action.
At the South West finals, which will be held at Blundell's in March, they will compete against teams from Bath, Bristol, Taunton and Cornwall. The team have so far earned £160 and four books in ESU prizes.
U12A and U12B girls' Hockey Teams on Top
The U12A and U12B hockey teams have both finished off fantastic seasons in style. In their final match, the U12As won 8-1 against Bristol Grammar School, bringing their tally of goals to 104 in the 17 matches they played this season, all of which they won. The U12Bs won their last match 4-0, again versus Bristol Grammar School, and are also unbeaten this season, having played 11 matches, won 9 and drawn 2. Both are listed as the top teams for their age groups in the country on the all-comers league of the national schools hockey website, and the U12As are also top of the performance league on the same website.
Congratulations to the pupils who achieved great results in the National Schools Kayak Championships, which took place on the River Thames near Reading. Both the novice championships were won by Blundell's crews, with Julia Huntingford and Mantha Unsworth-White taking the girls' trophy and Sam Taylor and Gus Gresswell the boys' trophy, with the runners-up also a Blundell's crew of Will Hones and Alastair Johnson-Ferguson. These three crews together with Alice Channon and Sophie Donne won the novice team event overall.
In the Senior competition, Francis Huntingford and Dougal Glaisher were just beaten into second place, in both sprints and marathon, by a crew from Langley School (who are part of GB junior Olympic talent ID squad). The mixed team runners-up were Joe White and Bethan Wesley, the senior girls runners-up were Tabi Pring and Jess Gardner and Blundell's came third overall in the team event.
Chartered Accountants Competition
The Blundell's team who took part in the regional BASE competition is through to the next round, after coming in as runners-up. BASE is the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) competition in which students aged 16 to 19 take part in a business challenge that enables them to develop employability skills and find out what it is like to be a Chartered Accountant. The Blundell's team of Will Vickery, Nathan Green, Rosalie Sanders, Minsung Jean, Justin Hung and Hugh Hamilton-Green did impressively well and are looking forward to the next round.
'An excellent showcase with a good cross section of career opportunities'. This was one of many positive comments from the thirty-seven companies exhibiting at the first Blundell's Careers Fair. Students from Years 9 to 13 visited, many putting their networking skills to good use. The employers were also extremely impressed with the 'level of engagement of the intelligent students who asked relevant and considered questions'.
Lars Fricke was instrumental in producing a video of the event which can be seen on YouTube.
Christmas Jumpers Raise Cash for CHAT
There were some fantastic Christmas jumpers on display at Blundell's on 1 December – all being worn for a good cause. Pupils and staff paid for the privilege of putting on their best festive knitwear and the money raised will go to the Churches Housing Action Team (CHAT), which gives free, impartial and confidential housing advice to those experiencing housing difficulty in Mid Devon.
Pupils at Blundell's regularly raise more than £10,000 a year for local, national and international charities through a variety of events and activities.
Fantastic Fundraising Recognised at Award Ceremony
Huge congratulations to Josh Withey (Year 7) who was nominated for the Outstanding Young Person Award as part of the Association of Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence. While he was in Year 6 at the Prep School, Josh raised £1193.81 for Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT) as well as donating toys and clothes to the DAAT shop (and raising money for other charities too) as part of his Blundell's Adventure, Leadership and Service Award (BALSA). He held a rugby tournament and cake sales, a Lads v Dads football match, took part in a triathlon and collected donations at a local supermarket.
The award ceremony was held in London and celebrated awe-inspiring events of heroism and bravery. It was hosted by BBC News presenter Sophie Long and Helicopter Heroes presenter Rav Wilding who read out a summary of all the fundraising events Josh had organised. He was presented with a prize by the judges in recognition of his efforts and a card praising him for all he had achieved. Josh was nominated for the award by DAAT.
Congratulations to the two teams from Blundell's that competed in the first Exeter heat of the ESU public speaking competition.
The senior team of Anna Sides (speaker), Victor Mills (questioner) and Orlagh Noone (chair) are through to the branch final in Exeter next month. Anna gave an intelligent, articulate and passionate speech based on the Toni Morrison quote, "Oppressive language doesn't just represent violence, it is violence." She provoked and inspired the audience by turns, delivering a challenging speech in support of this difficult topic and handling the probing questions with confidence and flair.
For the junior team, Tom Yeadon spoke engagingly, humorously and knowledgeably on whether we should be nervous of human DNA being modified, and was supported by the calm elegance of chair Honor Jones, and the supportive, tactful and insightful questioning of Erica Park. Erica did so well, in fact, that she won best questioner of the night, out-classing all her year 11 competitors: a fantastic achievement! All of our winners received £25 Amazon vouchers.
A Classical Treat
The Blundell's Classics Department were delighted to welcome the classicist and stand-up comedian, Natalie Haynes, to the school. As a renowned comedian, journalist, author, and classicist, Natalie is living proof that studying classics does indeed lead to employability.
During the afternoon, Natalie spoke to all the Blundell's Classics, Ancient Greek and Latin students about the importance of classical study. She also talked about her own varied and impressive career and emphasised how her knowledge of the ancient world has underpinned every part of this. The Classics department and 6th Form Latin and Classics students then joined Natalie for dinner, which was a great opportunity for some of the students to ask her about a career in comedy.
In the evening, Natalie gave a Classics comedy gig to an audience of students, parents, teachers, locals and pupils of other schools when she spoke on topics as wide-ranging as law, politics, money, women and culture.
Natalie's appearance at Blundell's was thanks to the hard work and persistence of Hatty Nash (Year 13) who had read Natalie's book 'The Ancient Guide to Modern Life' and had watched one of her Classics comedy gigs on YouTube. Hatty decided it would be the perfect way to promote the study of Classics, but then spent about a month talking to various agencies and publishers before she finally managed to contact Natalie herself.
Off to Hickstead
Congratulations to the Blundell's riders who took part in the NSEA Hickstead qualifier at Pontispool. This was Arena Eventing at its most challenging with water complexes, banks and ditches in the arena itself, all proving to be a significant influence on the competition outcome.
In the 80cm, Blundell's youngest team put on a brave performance and learned a lot, while the more experienced team took 4th place, with Lara Clarkson achieving 2nd and Flic Charlesworth 5th individually in qualifying for Hickstead. In the 90cm, the Blundell's team achieved a very creditable 5th place, while in the highest class, Georgia Wood produced a lovely round, just missing qualification and Bird Wood produced a near perfect score to gain equal 1st place and will represent Blundell's at Hickstead next year.
U16 Devon Hockey Champions
More good news from Blundell's hockey teams: the U16s are Devon County champions for the second year running. It was a truly dominant performance by this team; the fact that the girls did not concede a goal in the entire tournament pays testament to how well they defended.
The group stages were straightforward, with the team beating Exmouth (3-0), Mount Kelly (4-0), West Buckland (4-0) and Kingsbridge (3-0). This put them in good stead for the semi-finals against Shebbear. The girls calmly put 5-0 past their opposition and conserved energy for the final. Here they saw West Buckland again; it can always be a tricky affair playing a team twice in a tournament but the girls proved why they were yet again the best U16 team in the county winning 3-0.
A big well done to the girls, particularly Trixie Nicholson and Tabby Vause who were outstanding in defence. There was excellent leadership from captain Millie Attwell and special mention should be made of goal scorers Sparkle Menzies, Becky Hamilton, Millie Attwell, Hannah Kidner, Grace Francis, Savannah Regan and Betty Stone.
U14 Devon Hockey Champions
The Under 14 hockey team are once again Devon champions, having retained the trophy for Blundell's in decisive style for the 5th year in a row.
Undefeated in the group, the girls racked up wins against Torquay Girls' Grammar (6-0), Sidmouth College (5-0), Plymouth College (2-0) and St Peter's Prep (4-0), to progress to the semi-finals without conceding a single goal.
Tight control at the back and open, flowing play up front ensured victory over Mount Kelly in the semi-final (4-0), and although Maynard pushed the team hard in the final, Blundell's dominated from the beginning and were rewarded with a second half goal by Katie Finchett to seal the win (1-0).
Forwards Kitty Dart and Katie Finchett were top scorers (with 6 and 5 goals respectively), but Ellie Sproul (3), Maddy Cotton (3), Mia Butterfield (2), Ylva von Blanquet (2) and Zoe Dare (1) also added to the tally, and victory was very much the result of an impressive team performance.
The squad now progress to the West regional finals at Clifton College on the 8th November.
Ancient History, Trips and Tasks
On Field Day, the School welcomed pupils from four Prep Schools (The Downs, Perrott Hill, Exeter Cathedral and St Peter's) to an Ancient History and Archaeology Discovery Day, run by the Classics Department. Working with Upper Sixth pupils studying the classics, the visiting pupils took part in an archaeological dig, did some code breaking by finding hidden messages in ancient Greek and hieroglyphics and acted in The Frogs by Aristophanes.
Meanwhile, Blundellians not involved with the event were undertaking adventures in Cheddar Gorge, Knightshayes and Oxford, attending the opera in London, mountain biking and a range of challenging tasks in school.
Masterclass with Exeter Chiefs Player
Rugby playing pupils were lucky enough to have a masterclass from Jack Yeandle, the Exeter Chiefs Hooker. Members of teams from the U14s up to the 1st XV learned about scrummage techniques from the expert. The event was one of a series of masterclasses sponsored by Mercedes-Benz South West bringing sports professionals to Blundell's to work with pupils. Cricket and equestrian will be the subjects of future masterclasses.
An Exmoor Adventure
The Year 9s spent a weekend on Exmoor team building and getting to know their tutors. They took part in a number of creative projects and in the Williams Cup, a historic Blundell's competition recently revived by Mr Olive. Despite having to contend with some terrible weather (as well as autumnal sun), the pupils had a great time, building survival camps and giant catapults, turning trees into art, sailing, canoeing and wind surfing, amongst other activities.
Each tutor group worked brilliantly as a team and proudly represented their Houses in the competition, with the winners being Gorton House with 523 points and the runners-up Francis House with 513 points.
Careers Specialist Visits to Discuss Studying in the USA and Canada
David Hawkins from Nemecek Bonas MacFarlane presented on 'Studying in the USA and Canada' to an interested group of students. Some important messages included early preparation (from Year 11), particularly if interested in gaining a sports scholarship, and how to choose the 'best fit' university for you. With over 4000 institutions to choose from this is not an easy task!
David also explained the differences between the USA and Canada regarding entrance requirements, application process, experience and prospects.
Anyone interested in finding out more should speak with Miss Lewis who is our resident specialist.