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Top tips to be a diplomat! – Headmaster’s Blog – Wednesday 13th July 2016

July 13, 2016
Ballard School Speech Day Heads and Deputies

Top tips to be a diplomat!

I am writing this on a lovely summer’s evening (yes, we do occasionally have these) as the school lies quietly at peace around me. The school year is over and it is past the time for our regular administrative staff to be in the building. It’s a good time for reflection.

My mind turns back to Speech Day last Thursday when we were privileged to have as our guest speaker Mr Martin Harris, OBE, Minister and Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Moscow. Mr Harris joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1991 and has served in Austria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Ukraine, Romania (where he was Ambassador) and in Russia (on several occasions). He is very well placed to give advice on diplomacy!

Ballard School Speech Day Martin Harris

Our guest speaker, Mr Martin Harris, with our Head Boy and Head Girl, Senior Leadership Team and Chair of Governors – Thursday 7th July 2016

Mr Harris’ two top tips for diplomats (and by this he included us all, at home, in school, in work and abroad) were as follows. Firstly, we need to be true to our family, school and national cultural values. He commended the Queen’s tremendous service for our Nation but also the Ballard pupils he had met, and read about, for maintaining their high values and standards. The Head Boy and Head Girl in their speeches also reflected on the School’s emphasis on ‘the Ballard Family’ – ‘once a Ballardian, always a Ballardian’ (with thanks to CS Lewis and Narnia).


The second ‘top tip’ was to be curious and to be humble in appreciating, being tolerant and understanding of the cultural values of others. Mr Harris referred to the story of the centurion in Luke’s Gospel (chapter 7) – a foreigner who nonetheless ‘loves our nation and has built our synagogue’ (as reported by some Jewish elders). Jesus approved of the Roman centurion’s cultural understanding (the centurion knew it would be difficult for Jesus as a Jew to enter his house) and yet cared for a ‘mere’ Jewish slave and showed tremendous faith in Jesus’ healing powers. This example was commended to us, no matter our faith position, as a way of working in today’s turbulent world where breaking boundaries and building bridges is a better approach than barriers and bombs.

Luke 7 – New International Version (NIV)

The Faith of the Centurion

When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this,because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

Ballard School Speech Day house winning Holmsley

Our winning school house this year was Holmsley and we celebrated by sharing the news at our Speech Day 2016

There is plenty here, therefore, for us to consider as we look out during our present time on a very troubled scene both within our country and outside of it. There is, nonetheless, much cause for optimism as we on Speech Day congratulated our prize winners and their peers as they move on successfully and positively from our relatively cloistered school into their ‘brave, new, world’ beyond the school gates.

We tweet from @BallardSchool

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

Ballard School is an independent, private co-educational school in New Milton, Hampshire, providing an outstanding level of education for nursery to GCSE. With small class sizes and proven academic excellence, we strive to nurture the academic potential of all students. Learn more about our academic programmes, pastoral care, facilities and school ethos by visiting our website or by requesting a prospectus here




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