It was Aneurin Bevan who said that the worst poverty is poverty of ambition. Anyone doubting the truth of this assertion should try comparing the aspirations of pupils of similar natural abilities at Eton and a Comprehensive School.
But how do we learn to aspire? Perhaps the most accessible way is by following the examples of our predecessors, and one of the particular richnesses of NTS is in the examples set by some of its former pupils. Royal Academician? Fellow of the Royal Society? TV journalist? Head of MI5? World Champion? International Businessman? Judge? Successful novelist? Peer of the realm? Olympic athlete? Pupils of this school have achieved all these things and more – and none of them started from a privileged background.
Our school’s history is not only an important source of inspiration to its pupils; it is no less important to its teachers. For close on 300 years, Nelson Thomlinson (in its various guises) has given good service to the young people of this community. We, today, honour and draw strength from these achievements in the best possible way – by building on them and ensuring that standards today are higher than they have ever been in the past, and that standards tomorrow are higher still.
And there’s a final way in which our history enriches us. To join NTS is to become an inheritor of, and a participant in, a developing tradition, and, for many of us, that gives our lives here an extra significance. Through our Founders’ Day and Remembrance Day ceremonies, through the names on our prizes at Prize Day, through the names and photos and pictures on our walls, through the academic achievements book in our library, one easily comes to see oneself as part of an on-going story. And it’s an honourable story too.