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Welcome to the Bryanston blog

United by the language of science

This week we welcome Bryanston's Edrys Barkham as a guest blogger.

Last November, together with our Chair of Governors, Robin Pegna, I represented Bryanston at the memorial service for our double Nobel prize-winning OB Frederick Sanger. It was a wonderful celebration of a life of scientific endeavour that set the global standard for genetic research. I enjoyed hearing about his creativity, dogged determination and perseverance, and also admired anecdotes about his confidence to keep going when experiments didn’t work. We heard of one colleague who, on running into difficulties with his research, decided to ask Fred for advice; expecting insight and guidance, he was surprised to receive the following words of wisdom, ‘Try harder!’ 

One of the readings at the service was from Oppenheimer’s War and the Nations on how the language of science brings together scientists from around the world. For me, it reinforced the importance of ensuring that the Bryanston community is a diverse one, with pupils from all over the world, and I know how much our pupils from all walks of life contribute to the school’s unique atmosphere and buzz. At a time when the country appears to be becoming more euro-phobic and fears of outside threats loom large in the media, it is good to know that our pupils can celebrate their individuality and learn from their differences. I hope that children growing up at Bryanston learn that there are more similarities than differences between cultures, and that living and working together, whether in science or some other field, increases international understanding of humanity and reduces the fear factor. 

All the readings and eulogies at Fred’s memorial service were quietly inspirational. I couldn’t help but recognise in what was said about Fred Sanger that he was a Bryanstonian: he had confidence but without arrogance, he was kind, he had a mischievous sense of fun, an ability to listen and a quiet determination to succeed, and, above all, he was modest about his outstanding achievements. 

There are many parts of Bryanston that Fred Sanger wouldn’t recognise today, including the science building named after him, but I think he would recognise the Bryanston ethos that has changed little from his time here, and we will continue to follow his advice to ‘try harder’ to ensure that our principles and spirit of community survive well into the 21st century and, we hope, beyond.