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Headmaster’s Blog

I once worked with a colleague – now a Deputy Head at a Prep School just one county away – who was legendary for delivering his thank-you letters before anyone else. I remember on one occasion we had been invited to supper at the Head’s house (at which, incidentally, I inadvertently set fire to the kitchen table by dropping my serviette onto a candle) and that, on arriving into the front hall of school at 7.30 the next morning, I spotted that there was already a smartly-written envelope addressed to the Head – said-colleague’s thank-you letter. At the end of the year I asked him how he always, without fail, managed to write and deliver his thank-you letters before the rest of us had even made it out of bed. His answer? He wrote them in advance. That’s right: his gushing praise for the fine food, scintillating company and generous hospitality that he had enjoyed had all been written before he’d even got his glad rags on. Genius.
Almost exactly 20 years later, I thought I would take a leaf out of his (pre-written) book and write some of my ECS Christmas thank-you notes in advance.

Dear Choristers
I wanted to write to thank you sincerely for the monumental effort that went into such a fine set of concerts and services over the Christmas period. The standard of musicianship you demonstrated was (as ever) out of this world, and you enhanced considerably the festive and worship experiences of the many thousands of people in front of whom you sang. You have given up a good chunk of your own family Christmases in order to do that, and I want you to know that we are all very proud of and grateful for your enormous contributions over Christmas.
I hope that you were able to enjoy a good rest over New Year.
Yours sincerely
Mr Featherstone

Dear Chorister Families
Thank you most sincerely for all that you did to enable Exeter Cathedral’s Christmas concerts and services to be such a triumph. I am not unaware of the considerable contributions and sacrifices you will have made in order for this to happen, and want you to know how much your involvement in the choral worship over the Christmas period was appreciated by the School and the Cathedral.
I hope that you enjoyed some family time and a well-deserved break over New Year.
Yours sincerely
JM Featherstone

Dear Mr Baurance and Mr Fitzpatrick
A massive thank you for being here to look after (and entertain) our boarding choristers over the Christmas holidays – up to and including Christmas Day itself. I understand that Father Christmas visited the Boarding House on Christmas Eve and that you took them to sing carols outside the Dean’s window on Christmas morning (for which they were paid in chocolate coins) – what a lucky bunch our boarders are!
I hope that you were able to get some relaxing of your own done over New Year.
Best wishes
James

Dear Colleagues
You are amazing – thank you. What you deliver for our pupils and their families is extraordinary, and I am so very grateful for your camaraderie, professionalism, dedication and good humour. I hope the Christmas break was a good one and that you enjoyed a Happy New Year.
Yours ever
James

Dear ECS families
Thank you for your support during what has been a terrific 2019 for the School. We have achieved some wonderful things together – graded ‘Excellent’ in all areas by the Inspectors, notched up our best-ever academic results, broken (again) our own 13+ scholarship record, increased our pupil numbers, and enjoyed a whole host of music concerts, drama productions, sports fixtures/festivals, trips and visiting speakers – and I wanted to thank you for your support of all things ECS over the course of 2019.
I hope that 2020 has got off to a great start!
Yours with warm wishes
James Featherstone

I have another batch of thank-you letters to write between now and the end of term – chiefly to Mr and Mrs Fitzpatrick who leave us for the dreaming spires of Oxford; to Mrs Helen Grantham who retires after 20+ years of outstanding service in the Finance Office; to Mrs Vicky Stancombe who moves to Ivybridge Community College; and to Miss Bec Wurst who flies home to Adelaide after her year as a brilliant Gap Tutor. Between now and then, have a wonderful week, and I look forward to seeing you at Wednesday’s Carol Service.

James Featherstone

13 December 2019
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