An Attitude of Gratitude

On a ‘learning walk’ around the School on the first day of term (is that really only 4 days ago…?) I spotted a new display that had gone up. It’s outside the Chantry Library and is a board which encourages us all to have ‘An Attitude of Gratitude’. It had a central title sheet (‘I am grateful for’) and one or two sticky labels where someone had written down a couple of things they were thankful for. At the bottom of the board was a plastic wallet full of blank sticky labels.

I walked back past that display board again this morning. It is now plastered with sticky labels. Pupils and staff have been flocking to the Library corridor to take a sticky note, jot down something or someone they are grateful for, and pin it to the board. It turns out that the ‘attitude of gratitude’ board had been masterminded by the Year 4 powerhouse that is Miss Hinds and Miss Gilchrist, and that their anonymous and quietly-introduced display has attracted the attention and reflection of a sizeable chunk of the ECS community.

Encouraging each other to have an attitude of gratitude – to pause each day to treasure a moment, a person, a thing, a feeling for which we’re grateful – is a simply-brilliant and brilliantly-simple idea. It’s good for our mental health, for our emotional and spiritual wellbeing, for our balance and perspective, for our sense of community and belonging, and it offers us a dedicated moment to step away from the busyness of ‘getting stuff done’, and to come up for air and take a lungful of something that is very good for us indeed.

It’s certainly made me think about the things I’m grateful for. There’s lots – some of which I’ll post on the gratitude board and some of which I’ll keep to myself (because sometimes private gratitude’s fine, too). Given that we have just returned from our Christmas holiday, I do want to publicly express my gratitude for all those who kept on going over the festive period to make sure our School kept on thriving and doing its thing.

Many of our non-teaching staff were hard at work for much of the holiday. Our maintenance teams, our cleaning team, our caterers, our administration teams, the finance office, our communications and admissions crew – they absolutely deserve our collective thanks. Their work is often behind the scenes: it is fundamental to the success of the School.

Looking back at the Christmas hols, Mr Baurance (Head of Boarding) and Miss Bullocke (Chorister Tutor) definitely also deserve a spot on the gratitude board. Between them they made sure that our Choristers were looked after day and night during Choir Term. It is their kindness and dedication during their own holiday – including on Christmas day – that enables the Choristers to be on the Cathedral doorstep to fulfil their choral commitments.

Finally, as we pack away the decorations and see 2021 disappear into the distance, I have an attitude of gratitude for our Choristers and their families. Despite the best efforts of Covid they had a busy singing schedule in the Cathedral in the run up to Christmas day. They are masters of their craft – and it’s a craft that they love (every departing chorister at 13 will tell you that their most treasured memories are of Christmas in the cathedral) – and the work and dedication that they – and their parents/guardians and siblings – show is remarkable.

With a week of 2022 now safely under our belt, and the prospect – perhaps – of a brighter year ahead, let’s make a collective New Year’s Resolution to adopt an ‘attitude of gratitude’. Grab a sticky label – metaphorical or otherwise – and get scribbling every day. In 12 months’ time take a look back at what you’ve written. We’re a lucky lot, aren’t we?


Mr James Featherstone



7 January 2022
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