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Why I support RGS Bursaries

Having read Alastair Leithead's (80-90) and Nigel Paton's (66-76) articles in support of the RGS Bursary scheme, I find myself compelled to offer my own thoughts on the value of the scheme that I too enthusiastically support.

By Major Stephen H E Richardson (81-88)

I was one of the many boys who benefited from the state Assisted Places Scheme that is very sadly now defunct. The son of a Maths Teacher and a Vicar we were never hugely welloff, and when my father died his wish to send me and my brothers to RGS seemed unlikely at best. However, the Assisted Places Scheme stepped in with full bursaries and we were all lucky enough to be educated in the way my father would have wished.

Now a fairly vintage Army Officer I have had numerous reasons to be grateful to RGS and the education that has quite literally saved my life on numerous occasions. I was not (am not) a massively academic sort, as M R Barlow (53-64) and others can testify from bitter experience. But RGS was and is much more than raw exam results. It provided me with: a practical education in intelligent and analytical argument; my best mate Mark Korolkiewicz (78-88); and reinforced my enthusiasm for public service in the Armed Forces through the CCF. Incidentally, I can still hear Lt Col Griffiths crying "bash on" at difficult moments.

Most importantly, Sue Rogers gave me the finest instruction in land navigation known to man through NRGS Orienteering and O-level Geography. In my 25 years of varied military life I have never been completely lost (yes – really!) and literally hundreds of soldiers in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Kenya, Canada and Afghanistan owe their lives to Sue's exhortations to "look into the map" in the rain in Chopwell Wood.

I have already mentioned the demise of the excellent Assisted Places Scheme, which in my view is a tragedy for the principles of social mobility and progression on merit championed by our school for the last 500 years. But I am not the Education Secretary, and until we have an Old Novo in the post the best we can do is to fund our own scheme. In the best traditions of our school it is up to us Old Novos to 'tread where our fathers trod' and make our country a better place. I cannot think of a finer cause for Old Novos' charitable cash – the education of future generations of intelligent, fit, compassionate and conscientious 'movers and shakers' to make our fine country a great place to live. And, who knows, maybe the odd Army Officer or two!

Major Stephen H E Richardson (81-88)

If you would like to join Stephen in donating to the RGS Bursary Campaign then please call Jane Medcalf, Campaign Manager on 0191 212 8909. Alternatively, you can make a secure online donation at www.rgs.newcastle.sch.uk/rgs-bursaries/how-to-donate where all donations are gratefully received.