I have made friends that will last me a lifetime
“It is a privilege to have this opportunity to tell you about the change that a boarding school education has given me. My childhood was spent in a home where there was serious domestic violence, resulting in the near loss of my mother’s life. Even today, she is unable to work because of her spinal injuries following many beatings at the hands of my father. He got involved in the gangs which roamed our run-down estate and eventually ended up in prison. As a result of his lifestyle there was victimisation of our family, with gangs of people walking past our house, front and back, staring in and climbing on our fences and the drug culture. I started to wear my hair in dreadlocks, but tried to distance myself from what was going on around me.
“In my last year of primary school when it came to choosing my secondary schools, it looked likely that I would be going to one of two local comprehensive schools where my friends would be going to. However one day as I was coming to the end of year 7 I was in my local shopping precinct and passed a small exhibition for schools. Although initially I was drawn to the stands because of the free pens they were handing out, I was approached by a lady (who I now know to be a teacher at Reed’s School) who talked to me and soon persuaded me to take a prospectus advertising the School, to accompany the freebies I’d already collected.
“So I took this home to my mum and after a few talks and finding out about the financial support which might be available from the Reed’s Foundation and the Royal National Children’s Foundation we decided to visit Reed’s School, and as you might expect both me and my mum were astounded by it. One thing led to the other and, to my surprise, I passed the entrance test, and in a matter of months what was a coincidence while out shopping led me to joining Reed’s
“I am now in my fifth year at the school.
“For the first two years I was a day boy as my mother still wanted me at home with her. As you can imagine it took me a few weeks to settle into the very different academic routine and the gruelling 6 o’clock wake up call each morning to travel in from Wandsworth was hard. However, I immersed myself in school life and took up rugby as well as other extra curricular activities. I have also made friendships which have lasted throughout my time at Reed’s
“However the biggest change to my life came in my third year when I started boarding so that I could benefit from the pastoral care that Reed’s provides, and it allowed me to focus on my studies far more as I wasn’t making the three hour round trip. It also relieved the stresses of home life and kept me away from the negative influences I’d started to encounter.
“Without wanting it to sound like a cliché it provided me with a second family from the very supportive housemaster, the 40 other boys in the boarding house (who I’ve been put in charge of in my final year in middle school) and the teachers who live in the boarding house with us. In this past year, I’ve started to play basketball and, with the help of my coaches, I’ve managed to reach both county and regional squads in Surrey and South East England and if things go well I might hopefully represent England in the future.”
“So a massive thank you has to be said to Reed’s School, to my Headmaster who saw something in me during my first interview and decided to take me on. Also, to all my subject teachers at the school who have had faith in me, and to my Mum for working tirelessly to secure me my place at the school. And finally a big thank you to the Royal National Children’s Foundation who have, for five years, given me financial support and the opportunity to excel at Reed’s.”