We know it is important to get a balanced view when choosing the right school for your child. Here are some real life stories from Old Moles, to help you imagine where a Moulsford education could lead your son.
I left Moulsford in 1993 and have fantastic memories of my time there. The setting alone is an absolute privilege with the River Thames running past the school and so much space for outdoor activities. As a result I was a keen sportsman and there was a perfect balance of competitiveness (which didn’t need encouraging in me!!) and general enjoyment. In particular I have vivid memories of a Bering vs. Amundsen football match where Bering beat us 1-0 on a blustery day and many of my Amundsen team-mates learnt humility the hard way that day as we were sure we would win with most of the First XI in our team!
Other fond memories involve prize-giving at the end of the school year and music lessons and activities with the wonderful Eira Hoare. I am sure all of my peers today can appreciate classical music far more than most of our generation thanks to her contagious enthusiasm and energy although few people can believe I was a head chorister!
From Moulsford I went to The Oratory School and subsequently to The University of Leeds where I studied French & Spanish. Today, I remain in touch with several Old Moles although being based in Chile sadly our reunions are somewhat rare these days - I am the managing director of a winery called Bodega Volcanes de Chile which exports wines to over twenty countries worldwide.
I have been living in Chile for 13 years now and am happily married to my wife Natalia and we have three children – Marcus, 10; Thomas, 7 & Isabella, 4 – who keep us both fairly busy! Besides keeping my energetic kids entertained and my regular traveling or the occasional glass of wine (!), I still enjoy sports and am a regular runner having completed my first marathon (Santiago) in 2017 breaking the personal goal of sub-4 hours!
Moulsford provided some of the most important principles at a crucial time in any child’s life –good manners, honesty, a strong sense of togetherness and in the last years the added responsibilities that were given to us to help us mature before heading off to our respective secondary schools. I’m always sorry to miss the wonderfully organized events for Old Moles but hope a trip back to UK will coincide one of these days – Summer 2018 perhaps!?
I left Moulsford in 1993, to go on to The Oratory School and, from there, to Cardiff University and Sandhurst. It doesn’t seem all that long ago, but each time I’ve visited over the years, I’ve been astounded by the pace change. It still has the same feel to it, but long gone are the Colditz style dormitories, unheated outdoor pool and Computer Club where, if you were any good at programming on the BBC Acorn computers, you might just get the tortoise to walk in a circle of an evening (maybe that was just me). And more’s the pity in some ways, many of my fondest memories were made ‘dorm raiding’ or braving the pool for a pre-breakfast swim (an optional, so entirely self-inflicted test of manhood).
When it came to nocturnal tomfoolery, you didn’t want to get caught. If your ‘dorm head’ discovered you out of bed, they would likely utter the dreaded words, “go to the Chaise Longue”, a finely upholstered sin-bin which sat on the landing at the top of the main staircase, directly outside the Headmaster’s study. The time you spent there (ranging from about ten to thirty minutes I recall) depended on the seriousness of your misdemeanour. It was a game of pure chance as to whether you were there when one of the teachers passed by on their evening rounds! I was such a frequent visitor, I used to take my duvet with me.
There was always a sense of fun at Moulsford, and so many opportunities, be it Ski trips to Switzerland, rugby tours around the country or walking expeditions to North Wales. But there wasn’t too much; you had to be resourceful enough to find things to do with your evenings, which is where so many firm friendships, as well as a sense of self-reliance, were forged (and injuries sustained skateboarding down the front drive!). I can’t think of anything I wasn’t well-equipped for when I moved on to public school, or indeed in the Army. My Moulsford memories are very happy ones.
I have only very happy memories of Moulsford. I played endless sport, I did lots of drama, I went on tours and trips all over the UK. I even fitted in a bit of academic work.
Most important of all, I made a life-long friend. I guess you all know him as Mr Hamilton-Smith (now Deputy Head, Pastoral). He was Hammy to us.
We went on rugby tours together to the north of England and to Wales. Places I would return to many times. I was coached by legends like JPR. We went and watched the Varsity Match, and I knew immediately that I wanted to play in that very special game.
After going to St Edwards, I represented England Colts and England Students Under 21s. I then captained Durham University First XV and in 1993 I got my rugby Blue. In a crowd of 80,000 people a party of red capped Moulsford boys cheered us on to victory.
My passion for rugby, and for doing things with 110 percent commitment, was definitely nurtured at Moulsford. We were encouraged to have a go. To play hard and fair. To be academic and sporty, competitive and sporting.
I hope that your children have as magical a time as I had in that very special school by the river.
Ben is now the CEO of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, the advertising agency.
When I left Moulsford in 1992, I went on to Grammar School and then immediately joined the Army, my life long ambition. Just two days into training the Twin Towers were destroyed by terrorists and in 2005 I was deployed on my first Iraq tour. A further two tours of Iraq followed and then in 2009 at the height of the bloody conflict in Afghanistan I was deployed to Helmand Province as a Captain. Following a prolonged firefight in the desert my vehicle was struck by an IED (bomb) and I sustained major injuries to my feet and my left arm.
My recovery was slow due to infection and after 10 months my left leg was amputated below the knee, for me this was a welcome relief from the pain and a huge boost to my morale and mobility. Together with some other injured soldiers we set up Race2Recovery, a team established to conquer the hardest rally in the world… the 9,000km Dakar Rally in South America. The race had never been attempted by anyone with disabilities and so when our team conquered it using our motto of “Beyond Injury, Achieving the Extraordinary” we had proved to ourselves, our families and the world that although our bodies had been broken our spirit had not.
Since then I have represented the British Armed Forces at Prince Harry’s Invictus Games winning a gold medal as part of the Sitting Volleyball team, I have climbed 4,000m mountains and pushed myself to the extreme. In order to spend more time supporting my family, I am now a partner at an award winning Leadership and Development company where we bring the practical lessons we have learnt leading teams in arduous environments to the corporate world.
To me, Moulsford gave me the most important aspect of my personality and character, my values. This school taught me to have courage even when the situation was dire, it taught me to have integrity and to selflessly commit to whatever I am doing to ensure the result is the best possible outcome. There are no “what if’s” in life and Moulsford was a fantastic start to a turbulent but enjoyable life.
Former Infantry Officer, Invictus Games Gold Medallist and Dakar Rally Driver
James Anderson is the younger son of the late Gerry Anderson - the man behind cult TV shows like Fireball XL5, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Space: 1999, and, of course, Thunderbirds.
After Abingdon and Oxford where he studied Physiological Sciences, he initially worked in Equestrian Reproduction for five years and then returned home to help look after his father as his Alzheimer's disease progressed. Jamie was able to work on some writing with him in his last year in 2012.
Jamie had always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and now, as managing director of Anderson Entertainment, he is the man tasked with keeping the Gerry Anderson legacy alive as well as developing Gerry's unfinished works.
He writes, produces and directs for television, film, and radio including Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish productions.
My Moulsford days were great! My talents and interests were carefully nurtured by the wonderful teaching staff - from art and design to sporting endeavours, and from creative writing to the sciences. I'm very grateful for my time there, and will always look back with great fondness and happy memories!