How long have you been at Lambrook and what do you do?

Neil – I am the Bursar at Lambrook and I’ve been here since May 2020, so almost a year. It has been a good year, but hard work. Everyone has worked jolly hard to get us through this rather unusual period – both parents at home and staff throughout the school.

Claire – I joined on 27th March 2020, so an interesting time! I am the Director of Finance and I look after the means to pay for all of the things that go on at Lambrook.

 

What do you like about working at Lambrook?

Claire – The thing I like most about working at Lambrook is the energy around absolutely everything that anyone does. Colleagues are enthusiastic and the Headmaster exceptionally energetic. This means I work in an enabling environment where all ideas are given due consideration. It is incredibly refreshing to be part of such a dynamic team.

Neil – There is a lovely, all-encompassing atmosphere here and it is very collaborative. It has been a joy to work with new people who all have a fantastic can-do attitude. People have been very welcoming and very accommodating throughout the school – everyone made me feel very welcome from day one, which really helped me settle in.

 

Have you had much interaction with the children?

Neil – I see the children on a daily basis as I wander around the school, but most recently, I helped the Year 7 and Year 8 pupils with their Covid testing. The children were delightful and such a good representation of Lambrook – a very happy and bright bunch of children, who are incredibly polite and respectful.

Claire – I see the children in the Dining Room each day and whenever I speak to them, they are always very polite and exceptionally charming. All the children always look so happy when I see them either in the grounds or moving around the School. – I haven’t ever seen a child who looks miserable!

 

Claire – you are a former parent, how has Lambrook changed since you were here as a parent?

The grounds were a big factor in choosing the School for my children and looking at them now, I am sure this is still the case for our prospective parents – they haven’t really changed. However, the pool definitely has, the original one where the Queen’s building is now, dripped green algae! What is very noticeable is the injection of energy and living the mission of providing the feathers to fly that has come with Mr Perry’s arrival. He joined in my daughter’s last year at the School.

 

Where is your favourite place to be on the school site?

Neil – I think having experienced it in its prime during the last summer, probably Elisabeth’s Orchard. It is absolutely beautiful – calm, quiet and surrounded by wild flowers, sitting there in the sunshine, is really is a super spot.

Claire – I would probably be more traditional and go with the Cedar tree at the front of the school. I feel a massive draw to the tree because it represents the school and has clearly been here for a very long time. I also don’t think you can beat that view out of the BG Room window, looking out over the fabulous grounds.

 

Claire – what does your role look like?

My job has several prongs to it – one is to collect money, one to pay it out, and then attend meetings and to look at the finance side of any new projects. Covid itself has added a lot of extra layers onto my job, which has been quite time consuming and detailed. However, I have been incredibly well supported by my dedicated and talented team in the Bursary.  What is exciting, is to be able to look forwards at innovations and projects at the School. It is so satisfying to be able to budget and prepare projections so that we can begin to think about the future.

Neil – what does your average day look like? 

My day involves liaising with people, managing teams and dealing with day to day issues on the School estate. I look after the catering team, the domestic team, the grounds and maintenance team and the support team. As well as communicating with all of these people, and managing both current and future projects at the school, there are also lots of unknowns that spring up day to day, such as washing machines breaking, showers needing new showerheads, or drains needing to be cleared, to give a few examples!

 

Neil – you are in charge of looking after some of our future building projects – tell us more about these

Where do we start?! This summer we are extending the Dining Room, which will be a fabulous glazed extension, which will be used on a daily basis for meal times, but also for larger events and match teas. This was delayed last summer, but we are looking forward to putting this into action as soon as possible. We are then going to make some upgrades to some classrooms and to our staffroom.

We have submitted planning application for our new Astroturf, which is very much needed and then we have plans for some exciting improvements to the boarding side of things. There are also plans to improve some facilities for our Year 7 and 8 pupils too – so many pupils will benefit!

We would also like to upgrade our Cricket Pavilion in the future, and to improve the drainage on our sports pitches too.

 

Claire – How do we have the finance to do these projects?

As a charity, we re-invest any surplus that we make from our normal, business as usual, straight back into The School, that ranges from new educational provision, the opportunities we provide for our children, repairs to the buildings, and the projects that Neil mentioned. The work of our Lambrook Foundation is so very important in support of these projects but also in enabling our bursary provision for those children for whom, it would make a transformation difference.

 

On the subject of Dining Rooms, what is your favourite Lambrook lunch?

Claire – Oh, the haddock gratin was pretty unbelievable today. I reckon that is now my all-time favourite. The curries are good too.

Neil – Yes, the curries are superb! And the salmon.

 

What do you do when you are not at Lambrook?

Claire – My passion is Eventing. I spend a lot of time with my daughter and friends, with our horses, in the Eventing world. Otherwise, I am very keen on taking photos of anything and everything – urban, or flowers or animals. I am a big fan of the Lambrook Farm – animals are great! We are going to be ‘rescuing’ eight battery hens next week, and giving them a new and very happy home and I am very keen to watch their progress.

Neil – My favourite place is on the sea. I love being on a boat, splashing about on the water. I go to Anglesey when I can in the holiday time. I have three children in Year 9, Year 8 and Year 6 and we have a very busy family life – we cannot wait for fixtures and match days to come back!

 

During a rather unusual year, you haven’t been in post long enough to see some of our famous Lambrook events. Are there any that you are looking forward to being involved in?

Neil – I am looking forward to seeing our marquee for Speech Day. It seems like the day is really a highlight of the year – having the whole Lambrook community together on site. There are lots of events I haven’t seen because of Covid, but this is the one I would like to see the most.

Claire – Speech Day is great, I remember it fondly as a parent but I feel it is even more celebratory now. The Eton Carol Service is rather special and a magical way to end the Michaelmas Term. The other thing I really enjoy is watching the plays performed by the children – actually, the younger the better, as they are always great fun! I am also looking forward to new opportunities that I am sure we will come up with for some different and new events. I feel really privileged to be a part of the team as the school puts these in place.

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