Wednesday, 15 July 2009


Yesterday was graduation in full grandeur at Westminster Cathedral. The highlight of the academic year and the final act for this year's finalists. I started at St Mary's three years ago, on the same day as the graduates, and feel very close to them as a group. The whole ceremony from the rather silly Hogwarts type processional to the blubbing parents was very, very moving indeed.

It's a long process as the each name is read out and the student climbs the platform for a handshake and brief conversation from the principal, but as each member of the Drama department went up it sparked a memory of a moment, a conversation, a story from our time together. Lines from the poet Andrew Young kept coming into my mind.

These acaademic gowns flap like the wings
Of half-fledged blackbirds that attempt to fly.

The ceremony also helped me remember some of the hardships, tragedies and struggles that many of the students have been through to get here - not just over the past three years - but over a lifetime. There were graduates there who've had all kinds of circumstances and demons to fight to get this far, but their tenacity and faith in working towards something bigger than themselves is incredibly inspiring. I hope they were proud, I certainly was.

Hands red with clapping and a tear in my eye I came back to Strawberry Hill for a less formal end to the day.

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