27/11/2016

Chairman of the Board…

I was so excited to find this in the Oxfam Bookshop in Reading over Half Term. And for £1.49 to boot!

Ovett Biography

Steve Ovett was my childhood athletic hero. Enigmatic; a bit alternative. Edgy.

Steve Ovett

And probably the most naturally gifted runner I have ever seen.

In 1977, the previous year's Olympic 1500 Champion John Walker from New Zealand simply walked off the track in disbelief at his speed in the closing stages of this race, the first ever World Cup Athletics Championships in Düsseldorf...

Seb Coe is of course best known as Steve's most famous rival from this golden age of middle distance running. When a picture says it all...

Steve Ovett

But there was another great athlete around at that time who got rather overlooked because of the British duo's brilliance. Had it not been for Ovett and Coe, he might have been a double Olympic Champion himself. His name was Eamon Coghlan, from Ireland...

Eamon Coghlan

Where Coghlan was a champion in his own right was running indoors, and he still holds the record for the longest streak of winning races ever... 52 in total! His mastery of indoor races, on steeply banked, wooden tracks gained him the nick-name 'The Chairman of the Boards'. Indeed, now a Senator in the Irish Parliament that’s the title of his autobiography, for which I'm still relentlessly searching other second-hand bookshops and eBay...

Eamon Coghlan Chairman of the Board

Ok, so here comes this week's tenuous link...

At last week's Prize Giving we paid tribute to our very own Chairman of the Board, outgoing Chair of the Board of Governors David Marson after eight years of outstanding service to the school in this key - and completely voluntary - strategic role, and twenty years as a member of the Governing Body. Thank you, David.

David Marson with Zinzan Brooke
David Marson with Zinzan Brooke

Great governance is at the heart of any great school. Governors support and challenge senior leadership in equal measure, holding to account and acting as a 'critical friend'. And within this the relationship between the Head and Chair is a crucial one. It has to be based on mutual trust and confidence.

With Vice-Chair Mark Larby taking on the mantle from last September, I can now reflect on how fortunate I’ve been to have worked with four outstanding Chairs of Governors over my two Headships; I've learned a great deal from all of them. They've brought wisdom, experience, insight and gravitas.

All qualities which were also in abundance when, together with Sixth Form and Year 11 students last Friday, I was privileged to meet one of the most remarkable - and I have to say nicest - people I've encountered in my life.

John Simpson
John Simpson at Park House

John Simpson. World Affairs Editor at the BBC, celebrating fifty brilliant and often grounding breaking years of political journalism with the corporation this year.

John honoured a commitment to be with us, even though the originally planned, filmed Panorama piece showing him talking to a group of young people potentially looking forward to future careers in journalism was pulled in the context of coverage of the recent US Election.

What a man. What a life. What an inspiration. Completely candidly, he shared with us his first hand reflections on many of the events which have shaped the last half century: Northern Ireland, the release of Nelson Mandela, Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the rise and impending fall of ISIS...

As with my Chairs of Governors, you realise just how much you have have to learn and gain from those of such breadth and depth of knowledge of experience. I am grateful to all...


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