“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, …. it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

Over the last few months, it seems that globally and nationally we have seen both the best and the worst of times, with some people sadly bearing a greater burden than others. And yet, the groundswell of hope generated by ordinary persistent acts of kindness has also shown humanity at its most positive. It seems that even when locked away from each other, we find ways to re-connected in a different way.

This has certainly been true for ‘assemblies at Warminster School. Before Lockdown, every Monday and Friday, I would trot down to the Minster at 8.30 am to find that Alfie, Chaplaincy prefect, had unlocked the vestry and set out the space, with microphones installed  and the register book open and ready to be signed. The whole school would arrive and ably run by the Prefect body the assembly would commence; with congratulations, messages of encouragement, song, music, and the thought for the day. Beginning and ending the week with a prayer where all members of the school of all faiths and of none can gather and respectfully offer their own reflections, is a key part of the Warminster foundation. It’s a key focus for the community feeling we hold so dear. But, of course, in March it looked as though this would be lost to us, just when we might need it most.

The Headmaster, however, was determined that this would not happen, and through the wonderful work of Yellow Balloon Films, we have been able to continue this tradition, albeit virtually.  And that has changed it. It had to – the medium creates new and different opportunities – but essentially what we are doing remains the same. We meet together every Monday and Friday, to reflect, to offer respect, to hear or say a prayer; to set the week up and to bring it to a close thoughtfully. What’s new and exciting though, is that our assemblies are reaching many more members of the wider Warminster family!

This term, we have had 20 virtual assemblies! Tutor groups have sent in films on a theme. Staff have stepped up to the new normal and sent in their contributions; Mrs Shanks’ film collection, Mrs Rogers’ gallery of pupils work, Mr L.A’s memories of Japan and the Headmaster’s seriously fun thoughts for Star Wars Day (and who could forget Mrs Parrack’s vocal rendition of the 23rd Psalm, whilst in a field of sheep, filmed by the shepherd, her husband!). Assemblies at Warminster continue to ably assist us to Practise the Pause.

Lately, many people have had to rope in their family to run their businesses or to get their jobs done, so I too, turned to my right-hand man (dog) Professor Moriarty. Luckily, he has a lot of experience in working in Warminster School. (Actually, I think he knows more people in school than I do; he misses the hustle and bustle of life in the Foundry). Together we have worked out how to film on my phone in the shed at the bottom of the garden, in the window seat and as our confidence increased, outside. For ‘Feel Good Friday’ the Prof. had a morning off and Sid (horse) joined us for an assembly on looking at life as a journey.

And that journey continues.

What we have learned over the last term of assemblies, is; that marking the journey is important.

That the Spiritual heart of the school, the foundational Christian values, (however you might interpret them,) are a rock on which all else sits.

That faith at its best is inclusive, widely varied in its expression and accepting of all.

To put it in the language of the Church; it’s here that we experience grace, God’s unconditional love and forgiveness for all humanity in whatever state it finds itself in.

May the strength of the wind and the light of the sun

The softness of the rain and the mystery of the moon

Reach you and fill you.

May beauty delight you and happiness uplift you,

May wonder fulfil you and love surround you.

May your step be steady, and your arm be strong.

May your heart be peaceful and your word true.

May you learn to live,

May you live to love, and

May you love – always.


Celtic blessing.

Rebecca Ayers‑Harris​, Chaplain/HOD RS