SPOTLIGHT – JONATHAN BONNELL
The final spotlight of the year falls on our bow-tie and hat loving, entertaining Head of Boarding, Housemaster & Biology Teacher, Jono Bonnell.
Jonathan, affectionately known to all as Jono, studied Biology and Geology at the University of Staffordshire. He joined the armed forces in the mid-eighties, passing out of RMAS in April 1987. Princess Diana took the parade when this dashing army officer passed out. Jono served in the Royal Artillery for 8 years, including completing the All Arms Commando Course at Lympstone, then working as part of 3 Commando Brigade. He left the army in 1994 and started work at Brockenhurst College, principally on BTEC courses to prepare students for the Public Services. He joined Warminster School as a Housemaster in 1997, during that time he has taught Biology and has filled the roles of Head of Lower School and Head of Boarding.
How long have you worked at Warminster?
20 years at the end of this academic year.
What’s the best thing about your role?
Getting lethargic Year 11 boys out of bed in the morning, confiscating phones at midnight, separating warring factions within the boarding community, pacifying irate matrons, calming parents… actually all of the above and at the end of the day seeing the young people in our care grow up to become effective adults able to fully contribute meaningfully to society.
Describe a typical day?
Very difficult, I am still waiting to have one!
What do you think makes Warminster a special place to live and learn?
It is a very beautiful campus, but what is really important are the relationships between the people who work here and the pupils.
What would surprise us about you?
I am really a kind, caring and sympathetic person.
What other Warminster role would you like to try for a day and why?
Groundsman on a sunny day, because I like being outside (but only when the weather is nice).
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Not a teacher! A soldier, which I was.
What did your school reports say about you?
Nice boy, who should try harder and not use his sense of humour inappropriately.
Your note/advice to teenage self?
Acquire as many good qualifications as you can and take every opportunity that is available.
Your mantra/motto or favourite quote?
Nietsche – “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”
But some may prefer…
J Bonnell – “Wakey, Wakey”
You are well known for that infamous catchphrase and television moment which trended on Twitter. How did you cope with fame after School Swap?
Well Darling, such challenges one just has to live with, but when the people love you, you just can’t deny them! I still cannot understand why I have not been nominated for an Olivier yet. I think the funniest moment was whilst shopping when the check-out assistant recognised me and thought it hilariously funny to say ‘wakey-wakey’ as he took my card, my family were dying with laughter and I was less than amused!
You were obviously destined for a life on the stage! Tell us about your favourite Christmas staff panto moment as we know you like to play the villain?
So many roles, so little time and each played out with such skill and talent. I am almost too modest to discuss such things….but as you are interested where would you like me to start! Actually I do feel my reprise of the ‘Maleficent’ was one of my greatest triumphs, surely putting Angelina Jolie in her place?
Hidden ambitions still to achieve?
Learn to jump/bunny hop my mountain bike properly.
To complete The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race. A race that finishes downstream of Westminster Bridge in central London, opposite the Houses of Parliament. The race is a test of skill, physical and mental stamina and planning.
A favourite possession you would you save from a fire?
The cat, Nelson.
Undone top buttons.
Led Zeppelin are my all-time favourite band of all time! This does change from time to time so sometimes it is Paul Weller. It is Paul Weller at the moment as he has just released a new album which is great!
Dark chocolate with ginger.
Signature dish if you were on MasterChef?
Lamb and apricot tagine with spiced couscous.
Favourite TV programme?
Currently ‘Line of Duty’, but generally any programme by David Attenborough.
Last book you read?
The Gut – a book about the digestive system, with some of the latest research.
Last movie watched?
Star Wars the Force Awakens – on DVD, the last film I saw at the cinema was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Which actor would play you in a movie about your life?
Is there anyone that good looking and funny?
Favorite place/city in the world and why?
Middle of Dartmoor, properly dark at night so you can see the stars – beautiful and inspiring.
Twitter or Facebook?
Neither, I do not like having an internet presence.
What is next for J Bonnell, Housemaster – is there life after boarding?
So it is on to the Man cave/shed, to include all mod cons, i.e. fridge and television, something has to save me from being subjected to the ‘Kardashians’ and ‘Cake Boss’. Why do we have so many channels and so much trash? It will also have wall space to hang those works of art – my bikes and kayaks! Seriously I intend to get back into kayaking and I hope that will lead to something significant.
Thank you Mr Bonnell. It's now time for lights out and goodnight!