Mother’s Day: a Day in the Life of a Housemistress
by Victoria Anglim
Being a Houseparent to the 70 girls who live in St Bede’s, one of Ampleforth’s longest standing houses, is a huge privilege – particularly on Mother’s Day.
Ampleforth is a co-educational school and first admitted girls in 2001. For the sixteen years that I have been at Ampleforth, I’ve been a Housemistress to girls for nearly eleven years, having previously lived in a boys house.
Our Benedictine ethos at Ampleforth means creating a sense of community and providing individual care for the children we look after, which is why many parents choose to send their children here. This strong focus on pastoral care is particularly prevalent in our boarding houses and at certain times of the year when children inevitably think of their families.
As a Houseparent you are often the central link for a child between school and home. As a parent myself to Oscar (16) and Erin (14), I know that teenagers need a sense of balance and stability as they develop as a person and strive academically and on the sports field, theatre or music room. One of our former pupils talked about their experience of school and said ‘everyone gets the chance to do what they do best,’ which pretty much sums up our approach to the children in our care.
Design as a subject is very strong here at Ampleforth and ahead of Mother’s Day, we organise a craft club where the children can make gifts and cards for their mothers, which Matron then posts.
Any Sunday at Ampleforth involves Mass, Sunday lunch, calls home and a chance to enjoy some of the 70 extra-curricular activities we have on offer in the 2,200 acres of North Yorkshire countryside we live in. It’s also a long-standing tradition that, on Mother’s Day weekend, myself and another Housemistress join our houses for a large celebratory Sunday lunch, creating a positive family-like atmosphere, which the girls tend to love as it means they can get together with their friends. We also try and keep Aoife our much loved house pet (she is an Irish wolfhound) well away from the table!
We are always vigilant about helping pupils settle in and watch out for homesickness, which can sometimes strike at the weekend. We put on a range of social activities at weekends which get everyone involved and keep the children busy. On Mother’s Day this year, we are holding a charity colour run and have encouraged those who celebrate Mother’s Day to invite their parents to come down and watch them take part – and parents can take children out before or after the event.
So, Mother’s Day will be a day where we come together as a large family – however near or far our own might be.