The final Head’s Assembly of the Lent Term was a little different from usual as it was held outside and included the planting of a new 12-foot oak tree by our Head, Mr Hobbs.

The planting was part of the Queen’s Green Canopy tree-planting scheme (and happened during Downside Tree Week), which celebrates this year’s Platinum Jubilee and aims to enhance the environment for generations to come. This new planting, along with our Tree Week hedgerow planting, also reflect two of the UN’s Goals for Sustainable Development – ‘Climate Action’ and ‘Live on Land’.

Fr Michael and Mr Hobbs poured holy water on the tree and once planted, the School came together in prayer for the world and reflected on the Benedictine value of ‘Stewardship of Gifts’.

Mr Hobbs spoke about his morning dog walk past the Great Sycamore in the monastery gardens. It is the largest verified sycamore tree in Somerset, with a girth of nearly seven metres it is estimated to be about 240 years old. It is a grand specimen and the Woodland Trust have registered it as a veteran tree. It is an example of a natural pollard as the central growth has been damaged at some point and this has caused branches to grow strongly sideways leading to the wonderful shape. Mr Hobbs spoke, in particular, about how the tree is gnarled and bent, and not conventionally beautiful. His message to the pupils was that it is okay not to be perfect, and that imperfections can actually turn out to be blessings. He also told the story of a water carrier who has two cracked pots, and how the imperfections of the cracked pot which leaked all over the path actually lead to great beauty in the form of a trail of flowers.

The Assembly also included a summary of the term from the Heads of School which, as it was Tree Week, included some well-placed tree puns – good habits taking root, branching out and trying new things and ‘leafing’ behind old habits…

Our thanks go to all the staff involved in making this planting possible.