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.
In March a group of eight students from West Buckland CCF travelled up to South Wales to take part in the annual Cambrian Patrol challenge - an event spanning two days and 35km designed to test Cadets to their limits. Year 11, Corporal Kian Hayles-Cotton, Second in Command of the West Buckland CCF team, describes how the team got on and the benefits of joining the WBS CCF.
The Cambrian Patrol challenge is made up of ‘stands’ to which we had to walk, carrying everything needed to survive two days in the field, as well as weapons. When we got to a stand we received instructions to complete a task such as observe the enemy or administer first aid to wounded soldiers. The route on day one comprised of steep climbs, treacherous bogs and the odd river crossing to contend with and covered around 30km. On the first night Staff Sergeant Hancock and I prepared orders for the next day’s section attack in the next valley. It was a late night with only three hours sleep and when combined with the previous night`s two hours, it caused a sluggish start to the next morning!
The day began crisp and sunny improving on yesterday’s constant threat of rain and making for easier going. We launched the attack and all went to plan. We were ordered off the battlefield to prepare for prize giving and the long trip home when we were greeted by Mr Flynn and Ms Harding with food and drinks. The team did really well overall achieving a bronze medallion for our efforts and when compared with teams from Manchester ACF and Carmarthenshire ACF, the small North Devon hamlet did quite well!
Although the competition was tough, especially with wet boots from a last minute river crossing, we all enjoyed it thoroughly and would love do the whole thing again next year. If anybody is interested in joining a CCF or ACF I can only recommend it. Not only does it look good on your CV, it provides you with important life skills in leadership and teamwork. There are also opportunity to attend camps in different parts of the UK and even abroad, to do everything from developing military skills to white water rafting.
I would just like to thank everybody at the CCF who helped get us here and especially Mr Flynn and Ms Harding who organised training walks, camps and the actual event itself.
The summer tennis is approaching and our ever-strengthening tennis teams of all ages will be taking inspiration from Year 13s Emma Cobby, who has been representing Devon in a recent inter-County tournament at the famous Nottingham Tennis Centre, and has been helping to bring on some of the younger players in the schools’ Tennis Programme. Here she explains where her passion for tennis started and offers some advice for up and coming tennis players.
I was originally introduced to tennis at my primary school through an outreach programme, run by the Tarka Tennis in Barnstaple. Having been identified as being someone with potential, I was asked to come along for lessons, and that is where it all began.
Tennis development has been a long progress. I attended a great deal of tennis sessions and was entered into competitions with some of the boys to represent Tarka. Since then I have been competing regularly, which is a really important part of my development.
The Tennis Programme at school has been a great success and is really important in introducing the game to young players and bringing on those who are keen to improve. It has also recently given me the opportunity to practice my coaching skills and allows the teams to practice together for the benefit of the school.
For young players who wish to develop further, practice is vital but what will make them better is to play competitions against other players and Mrs Thompson organises a number of fun and competitive competitions both within school and against other schools and clubs.
My advice to young players is that tennis is as much a mental game as it is physical. It is you against one other person. When it is not going well you have to be able to change things and not give up. In one of my recent matches at the Nottingham Tennis Centre, against Leicestershire, I was down 6-1 down in the tiebreak and won it 8-6. It is not over until the final point.
I hope that all my experience can help the school team to success. I hope I add some calmness and confidence that allows all of the other teams to play their best.
Head of tennis, Mrs Thompson, adds a footnote update on the Tennis Programme: