Community

Alumnus visit to st ed’s

Recently, we welcomed alumnus, Andrew Barnes, for a visit on the St Edmund’s school site, here he talks about his experiences both in school and since leaving:

“Really great to revisit St Ed’s last week in 30’C sunshine. Thank you to Marie for taking the time, and for being an excellent tour guide to myself and girlfriend Hayley, and allowing me to indulge in a little nostalgia.

As ever, in 2020 the school still looks amazing – cleverly moving with the times with the newer truly excellent facilities, yet retaining its old charm, mystique, perfect size, and with this its pastoral strengths which still make the school unique, and distinctive today. True, it’s no longer possible to sprint, pillow in hand, down the long corridor between the old Big Dorm and West Dorm for ‘illegal but fun’ pillow fights, nor in these Health and Safety obsessed days seek out ways to position interesting objects atop the school clock, yet the wonderful memories of 9 years remain since joining with my brother as ‘Fresher Foundationers’ and finally leaving Baker as Head of House in 1981.

Those mostly wonderful years helped lay the ground for a thoroughly enjoyable analytical focused career in IT and Business Change in London after graduating from Sheffield Uni with a lowly BSc Honours in Maths, and a few ‘exploratory roles’ with the Church Commissioners and accounting companies early on.

Frankly, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do initially, so settled for a £5,000 salary with very low rent of only £60 per month for a 1 room studio in a large house in Highgate, North London prior to marrying Jackie in 1988. We still meet regularly as friends though in different circumstances now after 30 years together.

Having moved to Harrogate in North Yorkshire in 1998, primarily for family secondary schooling and to be nearer to relatives in 1998, I set up a small Limited Company in 2003 which remains today to contract out Project Management and Business Analysis services. I was involved in setting up a faith-based Harrogate Lifeline charity in 2013 which provides homes, and a coaching service to help men falling on difficult times back on their feet. I am still a member of the local church scene in Harrogate.

These days, my family (Luke 30 married to Katie is an Engineer with Costain, Danielle 28 married to Pete is an Assistant Psychologist, Tim 23 with girlfriend Becky is in IT Services) each benefit from racket sports and values largely passed on from St Edmund’s. I’m extremely grateful to still manage competitive tennis and squash games with my youngest alongside regular running, traveling, church interests, and latterly property renovation ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ style. This has currently taken over as my main occupation because consultancy project work is significantly stifled with Brexit, and recent events.

No plans to retire. For me it’s more about reshaping, or rejigging things over the next few years (God willing), supporting family, and enjoying a more appropriate balance, and pace to living.

Life has not always been easy, and I’ve had my own share of redundancy, grief, family challenges, and made plenty of mistakes, or taken wrong turns along the way. However, it’s hard to overstate the importance, value and blessing my St Edmund’s journey was then, and still remains as a special place in building resilience, independence of thought, innovation, creativity, encouragement, developing a positive outward looking perspective, a sense of humour, lifelong learning, and in so many other respects.

A huge and enduring ‘Thank you ‘ to the staff, friends, colleagues and others past and present linked to the school, and of course to my mother who had to make the hugely difficult but I believe correct decision to entrust myself and brother Steve at a very young age to St Edmund’s as boarders.

Great to share stories at the St Edmund’s Northern Gatherings in recent years, to take a grateful trip down memory lane last week, and to be reminded of the St Edmund’s motto – ‘Fungar Vice Cotis’ – especially relevant I feel in these challenging days.”

Andrew D Barnes (‘Barnsey’)