Lambs, piglets, jazz, charity and the school photos!

Thursday early at the Black Barn and, on a brilliant early summer day, a clutch of shepherding Bedalians are up well before 7 to let the sheep out and to admire two new lambs, bringing our total close to 30 out of 13 ewes. My two mystified dogs, taught to studiously ignore sheep, are more interested later in noting Tabasco the pig who is having an early  morning snuffle with her two piglets in the wood behind the theatre. This good start to the day is soon added to greatly by a wonderful Dunhurst assembly: Jazz, being Dunhurst’s musical focus at the moment and being a genre that even had Philip Larkin feeling chipper (“..an enormous yes” For Sidney Bechet), starts us off, with Ben Harlan and Kathy Misson‘s joyful rendition of Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man. The assembly’s main highlight comes from Martina Gruppo, whose company Coffee Fairy has been working with Dunhurst over the past few years to help build a school (Esquela Vincente Talavera) in the village of Miraflor in  mountainous Northern Nicaragua. The latest stage of this project has been a competition to design a mural for the outer walls of the new school room and Martina is here to show the pupils what has been done. She takes us through the stages of the selection and we see slides – of the villagers deciding on the design, of letters in Spanish exchanged between our children and theirs – and then of the construction of the murals: one which shows children holding hands across one wall and then the emblematic mural itself, a cunning fusion of various different ideas that the Dunhurstians had suggested, it has a Bedales bee at its centre, symbols of music, the countryside and drama around the outside and all framed by the outer reaches of the Union flag – a really striking bit of Dunhurst in the mountains of Nicaragua. The assembly closes with Louise Banks, whose vision this project has been, talking about why it is worth spending money on Art and reminding us of Daisaku Ikeda’s dictum that “The power of art can break the shackles that bind and divide human beings.”

It is a different kind of art (and a big chunk of luck with the weather) that allows Bedales’ two yearly photos to take place on the lawn in front of the Wing – one “formal” one (for the record) and one which allows for wit, ingenuity and the plain daft. A relatively light-hearted occasion it all seems to pass off well; however, the proof is in the can and we will see in due course how well it really has all come off.  The omens are propitious.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.