The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said ‘Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished.’  The benefits of connecting with nature are well known and positively impact both our mental and physical health.  Levels of anxiety and depression are reduced and calmness, joy and creativity are restored.

In a busy world it’s all too easy to overlook the simple yet profound pleasure of connecting with nature.  From lambs frolicking in fields, to waves crashing on rocks; from the feel of grass underfoot or sand between our toes to the might of a cascading waterfall; from the panoramic view of an exhilarating hill climb to the feel of sunshine on the face; or the pleasure of a bowl of spring bulbs or a bunch of daffodils – being in nature restores and strengthens our mental capacities and reconnects us with the environment around us.

As we head towards the Easter break and look forward to lighter evenings once the clocks change, here at the Junior School excitement is building as we anticipate our inaugural Jubilate Choir tour to Cornwall.  This follows on from a number of recent successes for the Junior School choirs, including taking first place in all four of the classes we entered at Woodley Festival and subsequently being awarded the ‘Choir of the Festival’ trophy.  The Chamber Choir also recently got through to the GSA Choir of the Year Grand Final and travelled to Warwick to perform alongside the other finalists.  

For the tour students from Upper II and Lower III will be heading to St Ives and exploring the local coastline and beaches, witnessing the power of nature with a trip to Boscastle, seeing how rescued seal pups are rehabilitated and exploring the biomes of the Eden Project. As with so many of our residential trips our students will connect with nature, spend time in green space, exercise and reap the benefits of increased focus and attention that such activities bring.  

A particular highlight of the Jubilate tour will be our concert in Truro Cathedral, performing in the sacred space that is shared as a place of common ground for all.  The magnificence of the building and sense of the cathedral community running through the centuries will surely remind us, in the words of one of our favourite songs, that ‘I am a small part of the world’ yet connect us with those who have gone before and those who will follow on behind us.

Returning to nature, for those students approaching public examinations it is important to build in time and space to get outside, exercise and enable bodies and brains to recharge.  To quote Khalil Gibran: ‘Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.’

Sacha Heard, Head of Staff Development, The Abbey Junior School