|17 Dec 2020|
Friday 11th December 2020
It was an emotional end of term as Walhampton bid farewell to Titus and Jemima Mills. As handskakes and hugs were not permitted due to Covid restrictions, the parents and pupils formed a long procession in their cars to wish them well, one by one.
We reflect on Titus and Jemima's eight years at Walhampton:
During Titus and Jemima Mills tenure, the reputation of the school has soared locally and nationally. Their enormous energy, their pursuit and promotion of the school’s ethos, the achievement of ‘Excellent in all categories’ in the last ISI Inspection Report, as well as a touch of the quirky, fun and unexpected, along with many other initiatives, have all played their part.
One such initiative, which has been particularly successful in marketing terms, was the return to the name 'Walhampton School'. This was done with the blessing of the Whately-Smith family (founders of Hordle House).
Building on the community spirit at Walhampton, Mr Mills forged links with other groups that have inspired and made a lasting impact on the children at our school. Some of these are summed up in our community spirit film and below:
Cambodian School – in 2017 Mr Mills led the campaign to raise the £30k needed to build a school in the town of Khe Nang in Cambodia through the charity United World Schools. The generosity of the Walhampton parents was overwhelming and we reached the target in two weeks. The school was built and is flourishing with our ongoing support with annual costs. In 2018 Mr Mills and a group of Walhampton teachers and parents went to visit the school, taking music and stationery supplies and bringing home tales of the warm welcome they received from the local community.
Arnhem School Trip – a personal interest of Mr Mills is the Battle of Arnhem and the stories of the men who took part in that famous operation at the end of World War II. Mr Mills had strong personal links with many of the veterans and during his annual trips to Holland with pupils and parents he would get the veterans to tell their stories first hand. This was deeply moving for all who experienced them and will be a lasting memory. As the veterans became too elderly to travel to Arnhem, Mr Mills invited them to Walhampton for an annual remembrance service.
Garden of Remembrance – linked to Mr Mills’s understanding and appreciation of the men who fought in WW2, is the creation of the Garden of Remembrance. This is situated in the sunken garden by the Italian terrace (the opposite section to where the first swimming pool/the terrapin pond was). It was established in remembrance of the men on our school memorial board (once pupils at Hordle House) and those who fought at Arnhem, and as well as being a place to reflect on personal losses or sit quietly with ones thoughts.
Lambeth School visits – Having previously taught in St Marks Primary school in Lambeth, London, Mr Mills set up a regular school exchange between the two schools. Walhamptonians in Year 6 would visit St Marks with Mr Mills in the Spring term, staying in London for two days and in return the pupils from St Marks would visit Walhampton in the summer term – often exclaiming at seeing real cows and ponies for the first time on their way through the New Forest. Both schools’ pupils have benefitted greatly from the exchange, finding much more in common than there were differences.
Establishment of the Alumni Community – the once dormant alumni community has been revived thanks to Mr Mills encouraging the introduction of an Alumni Manager to represent the Hordle House, Hordle Walhampton and Walhampton alumni. The Mills have taken part in all of our alumni events and helped to forge new links with our former pupils.
One thing the staff and pupils won’t forget in a hurry is Mr Mills enormous sense of fun when dressing up! We hope that his next school is braced for his many different guises!
Mrs Mills has also made a significant contribution to Walhampton in her own right. Her innate creative style has left its mark on the school including new dormitories, soft furnishings and blue colour palettes, as well as the poetry trail in the grounds and the trees, butterfly and bird self-guided trails.
Mrs Mills has also used her creative talents to put together magical and wonderful events such as the annual Year 8 outdoor nativity (why use props when you can have live horses, sheep and pigs in your productions? Not to mention boats, segways, trucks - see this years' film); the bi-annual Arts Festivals which have showcased the children’s acting, musical and creative talents (watch the film of the most recent one 'Animalia'); Father Christmas visits; and the annual Pre-Prep fete with may pole dancing, real animals, hat parades and games.
She has also been a supportive, driving force behind the many fundraising activities of Walhampton Parents’ Association and she’s been a charming and welcoming host at every event.
Together with their three sons, they have been an inspiring, happy and positive family at the school. A wonderful inspiration to those they work with and the children in their care. Nothing is impossible, be it a nativity play with real animals, bringing together the last survivors of a distant battle, or building a school in a remote part of the world… whatever your imagination can conjure up, it can be done. They’ve proved it.
We thank them enormously for bringing their special kind of positivity to Walhampton for the last eight years and wish them all the very best at Port Regis. To mark their lasting contribution to the school, a Sunburst tree was planted by the Mills and the Governors at the top of the Glade.