Is it still the same as when we were here? This is the question I hear most often from Fyling Hall alumni. Pre lockdown, a friend who boarded at Fyling Hall with me made the pilgrimage to school with a view to reminiscing about the old days. Beyond social media, we had not had any communication for a long time but, within seconds of greeting each other we were talking as if we were catching up after one of the school holidays.
The Fyling Hall bond is a strong one. I believe it is even stronger for those of us who were boarders. The bond is difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t been a boarder at Fyling Hall but if you have, it is a very real thing. After recounting many stories of days gone by, that we will not go into, we came to, ‘Is it still the same as when we were here?’
The things that have changed
My answer to this is to highlight all the things that have changed since our time: Heating that is turned on, no jeans & blues, no queuing at the phone box in the village for two hours on a Saturday to speak to your parents for two minutes, no slop squad, a sports hall, no Weetabix as an alternative to bread, a significant increase on the one pound pocket money, no logging squad, the excitement of getting a letter from friends or family and the hope it might have some money inside, no need to huddle around a tiny portable television to watch the football highlights and no bunk beds. These are a just a few of the things we remembered fondly and laughed about.
Boarders of today
As I travelled home I reflected on the question. I wondered if the boarders of today would have the same feeling of ease and friendship if they met up with a peer in twenty years. Having thought about this and observed the interactions of the pupils in the following days, I took comfort in the knowledge that the essence and spirit of boarding remains the same at Fyling Hall today. The familiarity of the pupils who enjoy spending time together out of the classroom, their constant quest for adventure, and the positive relationship with the boarding staff are still at the core of the boarding experience. There is no greater example of this than how quickly new pupils and visitors become part of our community. Part of this is by design through a planned induction but the most important element is the camaraderie, support and empathy of the boarding pupils and staff.
My list of differences contains the memories that define an era and highlight how things have moved on. Everyone including the pupils today will have their own list twenty years from now, that they will look back on fondly. Would I change any of mine? No; well maybe the heating.
To answer the question, the small things change but the bond, resilience and independence our boarders develop remains as strong today as it was when I was boarding.
Mr Steven Allen, Headmaster