Garden of Hope

­Hope is such a powerful thing that we are lucky to experience, as is reflection and being able to say thanks.  The School Chaplain, Mrs Nelle Dalton says: “Hope helps us look ahead to the future, to our ultimate goal, and overcome difficult moments in our life. Reflection is key to processing and gaining insight into our experiences. The greatest prayer of all is to say ‘thank you.’”

On Thursday 5 May 2022, we came together as a whole School for a wonderful Service of Hope, Reflection and Thanksgiving.  The idea of this Service came about during the challenging days of COVID-19 lockdowns when our community decided that we would congregate to reflect on this historic period and honour all of those whose efforts have helped us emerge from the pandemic.  Though the effects of COVID-19 linger on, here at Farnborough Hill and in the UK, we have resumed many of the activities from pre-pandemic life. Most would agree that no one has gone untouched by this pandemic.  The Service involved pupils from every year, as well as staff. We were honoured and grateful to have been joined by Sr Elizabeth McCormack, RCE, Sr Rosemary O’Looney, RCE, Mrs Julie Micklethwaite who is a governor and former parent, Ms Stephanie Dobbin, Head of the Old Girls’ Association, and Mrs Tanya Cinelli, Chair of the Friends of Farnborough Hill and current parent. 

Following the Service and lunch, there was a gathering to unveil our new Garden of Hope.  It has been established as a beautiful memorial at Farnborough Hill to mark the challenging times we all faced during the pandemic.  In the courtyard between the Chapel Corridor and the Modern Foreign Languages offices, we have planted six rose bushes representing pupils, staff, parents, sisters, governors, and Old Girls.  In addition to having the roses there, we buried two time capsules with items relevant to the last two years; our Farnborough Hill Book of Hope, letters to parents and staff from the School, a face mask with bees on it, sheets of music of songs that we have played on virtual recordings, a cross, a COVID testing kit, a school badge, and a letter from Mrs Alexandra Neil, as custodian of our school now, writing to a future custodian of Farnborough Hill. When these capsules are opened some time in the future, these items might give a glimpse of our experience of the pandemic. It is our wish that the Garden of Hope will continue to serve as a symbol of light and beauty throughout the years, especially when pupils or staff are in need. 

Mrs Neil described the day as “a moving yet incredibly happy one; it felt so light, so positive as we look to the future and see those dark clouds, that are still just a little bit on the horizon, are moving away.”