The power and importance of memories – Katharine Pearce

They say that our school days are the best days of our life. 

When we are living them that can be hard to believe. As children, we tend to, joyfully and rightly-so, live for the moment. Looking forward and worrying about real-life responsibilities don’t even factor in our thoughts.  

I’m not quite sure when we lose that beautiful childhood innocence – it is, of course, necessary but at the same time, a shame that concerns about ironing shirts and paying bills take over from the excitement of what’s for lunch or the joy of an ice cream on the beach. As we grow up, we become accepting rather than curious, concerned about consequences rather than enjoying the moment and think about the details rather than the fun.   

Our memories are a fantastic tool – even though our lives wander, our memories remain in one place. In an instant, they can provide comfort, laughter, help us to develop and bring us together. The memories we make at school are the foundation of our adult life.  

I was recently lucky enough to return to my old school and it genuinely felt like going home! The nostalgia and happy memories that popped up as I walked around the school site, remembering the people, places and events that took place during the 11 years I spent there were both comforting and, honestly, a little emotional.  

It prompted me to get in touch with my friends, some I see and speak to regularly and others that I perhaps should be better at contacting. Whenever we get together – and it’s usually only an annual event – we slot back into our friendship group as if we’ve never been apart. We can spend hours talking about life at school, things that happened, places we went and the many, many fun times we had.  

As we’ve just entered the annual ‘exam season’ for schools, it might be difficult for some pupils to balance their importance with the wider perspective of what else they have gained from school. Pupils are likely to spend more time here at Exeter Cathedral School than at any other educational setting and perhaps even in their professional life: some starting in Nursery at the age of 2 ½ and leaving 10 years later!  

It’s beginning to dawn on the Year 8 pupils that, after Speech Day, in July they will be leaving Exeter Cathedral School for the last time. They won’t be coming back in September as the younger year groups will and that is difficult to come to terms with; it’s upsetting. However, they are also full of happy and fun stories about the lessons, games sessions and school trips.

The memories and friendships that they form here will last a lifetime. The most treasured gifts are the wonderful moments we create with people – they become priceless memories that decorate our lives.  

Four years ago I had the opportunity to come back to school. Although a different experience behind-the-scenes as a member of staff rather than as a pupil, the happy and positive memories that I have from my time at Exeter Cathedral School will definitely stay with me.  

Exeter Cathedral School is a very special place. That is because of the people: it really is a place where people matter: the pupils, the parents and the staff. It is a community, a family, a team. It is a happy place, full of laughter and learning – for all! 

As difficult as leaving can be – and personally, I will find it incredibly hard to drag myself from Exeter Cathedral School! – it can be made just that little bit easier with the knowledge and the power that all the good memories give me.

Whilst I know that this might (hopefully!) be read by adults, it is perhaps worth reminding children that life is made up of special moments, which make it worth living. There may be cherished moments that are missed due to the stress and fast pace of daily life, so we must remember and encourage children to slow down; to take time to remember how precious it is to make the most of each of those moments.


Katharine Pearce
PA to the Headmaster
Communications & Admissions Manager

27 May 2022
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