One Community, Many Voices
The voices of the Close Community are so important to us and we love to hear your stories all about your experience of the Dean Close Foundation.
Here are just a few voices from within the Close Community. If you would like to share yours with us too then just click on the link below. We would be delighted to hear from you.
I came to Dean Close from Malaysia, joining Court House, followed two years later by my sister, Lydia, who went into Shelburne. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dean Close, which I firmly know helped make me the person I now am, and especially to the then Headmaster, Christopher Bacon, who offered me the position of Head of School in my final year. I was so happy to return in April last year (2019) with my father, Lydia, and our older sister, Cecilia, to meet up again in Cheltenham with Mrs Gill Bacon, Mrs Sue Padfield, Mr and Mrs Tony Forbes and contemporary OD Charlie Montgomery. It was also my pleasure to host David Evans DCF’s Director of External Relations) during his visit to Malaysia last September (2019) and show him some of the KL sights. Since my son Andrew is applying later this year for entry into UK universities, I am looking forward to spending more of my time in the UK and engaging more closely with the Dean Close Foundation. Datuk Chris Thiagarajah, OD
September 1972 was when I first became a member of the Dean Close Community, and I still feel that I am considered to be a member today. Dean Close was my husband's first teaching post. We moved straight from being Post graduates at Warwick University to a new town and with a 6 month old daughter. It was all very different. From the very beginning it was very clear that this was a community. Keith was clearly very involved in School, however I was not ignored. The then Headmaster, and Keith's Head of Department and their wives, ensured that I was very much included. It was a very good beginning, although I remember being quite nervous about taking the baby to Dean Close house for Sunday lunch; she behaved though. In the intervening years I have had several roles within the School from Prep School Science Teacher, Senior School biology teacher, Head of Careers, Head of PSHE, Housemistress, and supporting my husband as Head of Social Services and organiser of the charity Midsummer Fayre. Parent of two children educated at the School I still teach some Dean Close pupils on a 1:1 basis. All this means that I have seen many changes, and could argue that Dean Close is a very different place now; however, with all this change there are two constants which make it the special community it is. The first is its Christian Foundation, the core values of which are at the heart of everything, and the second is the educational philosophy that everyone has special talents and it is our role to enable them to develop them. Dean Close, therefore, to me is a vibrant forward-thinking Community whose success owes much to it maintaining its core values. Mrs Vanessa Aris MBE MSc (former member of staff)
Cherissa is a bright student, who took French GCSE early last summer, as one of the candidates awarded her grade on her teacher’s recommendation without being able to sit public examinations. She was awarded the top grade of ‘9’. Alongside the core subjects of English, Maths and Science, her GCSE options are Spanish, History, Art and Music.
Last year Cherissa won the Junior Critical Essay Prize, for which pupils answered the question ‘Who is the most influential person in your opinion?’ She wrote a compelling essay about Malala Yousafzai and her inspirational advocacy for the rights of girls and women across the world.
In the Summer Term, during lockdown with its need for Dean Close to conduct lessons and activities remotely, Cherissa also won the annual Remove Poetry Competition, with pupils submitting their recitals on-line rather than declaiming in the Tuckwell Theatre or the Prince Michael Hall.
Musically, Cherissa is in Chapel Choir, Orchestra and the new Rupieno Group for violinists; she plays both the violin and piano at Grade 6 level.
Last year, her family moved to Ouessa in northern Congo and over the summer holiday she helped her parents give out medical supplies to nurses in an orphanage, which had been fundraised by them. She herself made and sold ‘scrunchies’ (hairbands) to her friends to raise some money, and also helped her local community under lockdown restrictions by creating radio plays in English and French that were then broadcast nationally.
As if that were not impressive enough, she also recorded a series of radio bible stories for school children. She was asked by our Head of School recently to talk about her voluntary activities in the Congo at a Fourth Form Assembly.
Will is a boarder in Gate House, now renamed Yew for all Upper Sixth boarding boys not just Gate boys. He is studying Maths, Chemistry and Biology A Levels and is applying for Veterinary Science to Cambridge, Edinburgh, Nottingham and Glasgow universities. He has undertaken several Work Experience placements in two local practices in preparation for becoming a vet but has also spent several holidays working on local farms, and at the moment he sees himself being a vet for farm animals.
Will came to DCS as part of Gloucester Rugby Club Academy and, although he has not continued in it, Rugby is a passion, which is a bit frustrating this term with no competitive matches able to be played. He is Grade 6 on the Drums and played for some bands in the annual Rock Soc (contemporary music bands) last year, as well as to accompany his housemates in Gate in the House Singing Competition.
During lockdown, he was lived back at home with his three siblings and parents, and supported his parents in delivering Foodbank supplies in the local community of a town in the Cotswolds, where his father is a Church of England Minister. Will was a delivery driver!
Overall, Will is really enjoying Dean Close, the boarding experience and making new friends.
We have had the great opportunity to educate all three children in schools in the Dean Close Foundation and that’s the best decision we have made in our lives. Our son, Kameel, is at Dean Close and our two daughters, Mariam and Hannah, are at St John’s on-the-Hill. They are thriving throughout their school lives academically and in sport, not to mention the best pastoral care they receive. both schools have guided all my children, responding to their needs and enabling them to achieve great things in life. All of our children represent at a higher level in sports at county and national level. We are pleased with the schools’ approach, tailor made to our children’s capabilities, and encouraging them to perform at their very best. Thank you for all your effort and dedication towards our children. Mr Rikaz and Mrs Agnieszka Sahabdeen (Current Parents)
Our children were at Dean Close for a span of 9 years. They were all happy to board from the outset and keen to fully immerse themselves in everything the school had to offer. Penny and I seemed to be visiting every few days, especially for matches. Ollie soon had the job of the drummer in the jazz band and Greg enjoyed singing in the choir when rugby permitted. The boys (Tower) loved rugby but Philli (Shelburne) was an all-rounder; chapel choir, drama, netball, tennis, and hockey. The choir tours to Venice, barcelona and New York, which we joined, as well as the many outstanding drama productions, provided many cherished moments for us as parents. Even though the children have now transitioned through university and into the world of work, Penny and I still visit Dean Close regularly for the wonderful music events, drama productions, sports matches, the Christmas carol service, and many others. Now assisting the school as Member of Council feels like very natural step. In a sense we feel we haven’t really ‘left’ Dean Close, and are proud of our long association. John & Penny Hall (Former Parents and Member of Council)
As parents of three children that went to St John’s-on-the-Hill we can honestly say that the inclusion of the school as part of the Dean Close Foundation has been fantastic. between the schools within the Foundation there is a clear and shared thread of friendliness, compassion and community spirit that marks the education out as exemplary. Our two daughters, who have now moved to Dean Close Senior School are truly enjoying and thriving in the environment created by the Head and staff. The journey began with St John’s and the roots cultivated are now clearly blossoming at Dean Close. Brian Davies and Tracey Skirton Davies (Current Parents)
When I heard about the Quad Project at DCS, I thought it was a brilliant idea. Investing in new education facilities and resizing the spaces for the appropriate subjects made it an easy project to support as an OD, Parent and DCS Council Member. The initial development of the Maths and Business classes for will create a solid foundation for the ongoing development and progression of DCS and the Quad Project. Donor
I was delighted to support the Quad Redevelopment project, being impressed by the School’s vision for this part of the campus. Dean Close’s Senior Leaders clearly see the need to produce high quality teaching facilities yet at the same time to equip current and future pupils for their lives beyond school. Creating collaboration spaces to enable young people to engage with local business leaders and entrepreneurs particularly struck a chord with me and is exactly what I believe education should be about. Donor