The Head, Nicola Huggett

Friendship

Last week I attended a dinner in memory of on Old Blundellian and former Governor James Bullock, who, as some will remember, died very sadly at the age of 47 a year last September. James was a top tax lawyer for the firm Pinsent Masons and last week about 60 of James’ good friends, family and those associated with Blundell’s gathered together in one of James’ favourite places, The Travellers Club in London, to remember him. It was quite a different evening to some of the gatherings I had attended just over a year ago, when we were all shocked and deeply saddened by his loss.

This time however, we met to remember him in a more positive way and I was reminded just how much he had achieved and how much he gained from his education here at Blundell’s – something he often reminded me.

Gathered around the tables were his friends from School, with whom he had kept in contact. He had gone on to win a scholarship to Sidney Sussex College in Cambridge where Blundell’s still has a scholarship in its name after many historic links of the past, and there were also lots of people from his Cambridge days there too. James had been a regular contributor to the Law faculty at Oxford University and his legal career had seen him become a renowned partner in International tax law, flying all around the world. He was at the top of his game when his life was cut tragically short.

However, it was a salutary lesson to me that you never know what is going to happen in life, no matter how well we plan it all out, and we just need to make the most of every day, just as James did.

The people sitting beside you now can and should be some of your friends for life. When you look back at your school life, it will seem a very small part of who you are, but the number of people who gathered together to once again celebrate James’ life really showed me what an impact one person can have. We should all remember that as we go about our busy days here.

In the summer last year, James Bullock’s friends from school, university and from his working life got together to form a scholarship fund in his name, for Blundellians. This distributes a sum of money each year to deserving Blundellians to help with their first year of university expenses. We were delighted to suggest to the trustees several Upper 6 pupils who had worked so hard behind the scenes, people who had always contributed positively to all that they did. I shall look forward to having the opportunity to put forward one or two people from this year’s Upper 6 when the time comes.

So my point this morning is one that I have made many times before. Just remember to value your friends and companions during the time you are at school. You will take their friendship with you all of your life, and if you are unpleasant or uncaring of other’s feelings at school, they will take that memory of you through all of their lives too.

Take those opportunities to push yourself out of your comfort zone and remember that every experience makes you a more interesting person who can add to the lives of others in so many ways.

As Mae West, quite a controversial Hollywood film star of the 1930s, said “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”