West Buckland pupil James Tyson has just returned from South Africa where he has been on tour with Devon County U15 cricket team for 16 days. The team played 6 matches including two 2 day matches and a day/night match. Here James tells us about his once-in-a-lifetime trip.
The Kruger National Park, Cape Town and the whole South Africa experience was even better than I could have imagined. In fact it was simply awesome.
We left Devon with temperatures around two degrees and 18 hours and 6,000 miles later we arrived in Skukuza capital of Kruger National Park to temperatures of 35 degrees and humid! Our hard work during winter training sessions proved essential to ensure we were fit to play competitively in these sweltering conditions.
After winning our first game against the JRA Academy XI we enjoyed a fantastic game drive in one of the largest game reserves in Africa. To see the cheetahs, lions, elephants and other wild animals up so close was amazing.
After winning all of our fixtures in Kruger and, most pleasingly, the 'Battle of the Kruger', we headed off on the next leg of our tour, flying to Cape Town and I had my first experience of a day/night game played with a white ball under floodlights. The white ball was very different to the red ball and it was hard to pick out of the floodlights. We were all a bit bemused when this game had to be abandoned due to a thunderstorm because there had been a three-year drought in Cape Town up until this point – we roll up and it rains! But we realised it was very important for the locals. However we still managed a win under the Duckworth-Lewis method.
For our next match we played Newlands Cricket School in the shadows of the Football World Cup Stadium. After this game we went up to the top of Table Mountain and watched the sun go down over Cape Town.
We visited Newlands Cricket Ground early the next morning for a team photo and it was easy to see why it is described as one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world, being overlooked by Table Mountain and Devil's Peak but surprisingly the playing field was not as big as I had expected. There have been 55 Test matches played here and it is home the National South African team whose nickname is The Proteas.
We played our match this day at Western Province Cricket Club and here the groundsman proudly told us how India had played on this wicket two weeks previously. We were expecting it to be an absolute belter so were a little disappointed when we found it to be pretty average. However it was the most stunning ground I've ever played on with the backdrop of the iconic Table Mountain, and we performed well and came close to winning but they held on for a draw.
We were then taken on a tour of Langa Township, a suburb of Cape Town and it was noticeable how everything was all very clean and well organised in the homes and how happy everyone seemed. Langa has produce some prominent South African sportsmen including wicket-keeper Thami Tsolekile.
For our final game we received our biggest cricketing lesson! In a 50-over match we bowled WP out for a respectable 243 but lost by 181 runs as we were demolished by an amazing spell of fast bowling from South African Salmaan Ajam who took 7 for 9 in 5 overs! Afterwards our hosts provide us with a delicious braai (BBQ) which we all enjoyed together.
We donated and brought from home four bags full of kit which we gave to young cricketers who needed kit.
I would like to say a huge thank Mark Ansell, Tour Manager, all my coaches and everyone who has generously supported me and made it possible for me to be part of this amazing cricket tour; I will remember it forever.
As Britain’s Kyle Edmund continues his fantastic run at the Australian Open tennis, the boys at West Buckland School are looking ahead to the Summer Term fixture card. Winter training is very much underway and recent competitions for several of our boys have certainly been a fantastic stage for gaining valuable experience.
Rodrigo Anzules-Martinez (Prep 6) has been very busy taking part in tournaments across the South West. His success and experience on the courts has earned him Devon selection against Cornwall in Plymouth later this month. Freddie Lloyd (Prep 3) won a Grade 4 tournament in Cardiff and Lincoln Boden (Prep 3) won Grade 4 in Taunton and a Grade 3 competition in Gloucestershire, all between Christmas and New Year.
In the senior school, Toby Watts (Year 8) has taken part in competitions in Taunton and Cardiff as well as achieving success at U14 and U16 level in Sherbourne. Toby and his partner Eddy Pope (Year 8) were also the U13 Winter series winners at the North Devon Schools' competition in December.
Meanwhile, the senior boys are preparing to warm up after half term. Using the floodlit courts for team building and training time, boys’ tennis captain, Brad Phillips, will be looking to lead his team to a consecutive unbeaten season.
Next local competitions: Tarka Tennis Centre
U12 Boys and Girls - Grade 4 - Sunday 4th February
All age groups - Girls and Boys - Half Term Grade 3 - 11th-16th February
I have just auditioned for the National Children’s Orchestra (NCO) for the fifth time. The first time sadly I was not accepted but I was determined and I auditioned again the following year and was delighted to be accepted.
The NCO was founded in 1978 to provide younger musicians with an opportunity to develop their talent in a national symphonic orchestra. In NCO there is an orchestra for each year group (from 7 to 14). We each have three residential courses during the year. These last for just over a week and at the end of the week we perform a concert for parents and paying public. I have played at Leeds Town Hall and at Birmingham Town Hall as well as the Symphony Hall around the corner. Playing in such wonderful venues, with phenomenally talented peers, has been such an inspiration to me. It has certainly changed my attitude to practising!
We also have the option to join a Regional orchestra which meets every month in term time. I love NCO so much because I have many friends I have met through the Regional and National orchestras. It is a kind yet challenging environment where you play lots of classical and modern music in a full orchestra setting. I have learnt how to listen to each part of the orchestra and how important counting bars is and most of all that you must to watch the conductor!
In my most recent concert we played excerpt from the last movement of Beethoven’s 5th symphony as well as more modern pieces for example a medley from the musical “Oliver!”.
If you love playing in bands or want to try playing in the orchestra, I would thoroughly recommend that you audition for NCO!
At this summer’s Speech Day, we are delighted to be welcoming, as our guest speaker, James Shone, founder of the charity ‘I Can and I Am’. James was a school teacher and house master before being forced to quit teaching in 2013 following a brain tumour that left him without sight and his body partially disabled.
James is passionate about the issue of mental ill health, which he believes is the new cancer of young people today and is driven by his desire to reduce low self-worth in children and to inspire confidence in every individual.
James has spent four years visiting hundreds of schools to speak about his journey and the importance of ‘inflating the balloon of self-belief’. The feedback from pupils, parents and staff of the schools he visits is exceptional across the board.
James has a mission, “I want to help break the negative cycle so prevalent among young people today,” he says. “I’m passionate about inspiring confidence in these young people and I’m hoping to extend my reach in to all sectors of society.”
As part of his fund raising activities, James recently completed a 128 mile row down the Thames from Lechlade to Teddington, quite a feat given James's lack of sight and reduced physical capabilities.
Two different rowers joined James each day to provide support, including his eldest son on day 5 and his wife, Olivia, for the final leg on day 6.
“I’m incredibly proud of what we all achieved on this great adventure and want to ensure that we continue to help as many young people in the UK as we can. The money raised will help the charity to visit an even wider number of schools and to launch a one-to-one mentoring scheme for teachers to use with their students.”
We look forward to welcoming James on Saturday 1st July at our Speech Day.