Jan Black

Jan van der Velde appointed as Director of Alumni Relations and Fundraising

by Jan van der Velde

Evolution is a good thing. Charles Darwin, when championing his theory of evolution, felt it led to the advancement of all organic beings. While not trying to outdo this genius of a previous age, I believe it leads to the advancement of all things, not just organic. 

I say this with particular reference to the School. Those of you who know me, and there are many that I have met over the years, will know that I have a perspective that includes 40 years’ service to the OS Club. For the last 12 years, this service has been in the capacity of Chairperson.  

During this time, I have seen how the School, the Foundation, and the OS Club have all had to adapt in response to the changes in societal views and aspirations. Likewise, commercial pressures, parental expectations, and an expanding educational vision have brought about changes in how the School community operates. 

As part of this continuous reassessment, the Headmaster, Dan Harrison, has sought to enhance the School’s relationship with the alumni and other friends and stakeholders. It was felt that a realignment of the OS Club and Foundation would provide a more coherent and cohesive experience. This is the Headmaster’s vision, to unite all those in our community as we approach 500 years of Sedbergh history. It is for this reason that I have been appointed as Director of Alumni Relations and Fundraising. 

It comes at a time when we say goodbye to the Foundation Director, Isabella Bennett. We are sorry to see her leave but thank her for her diligence and professionalism over the last five years. We wish her every success as she starts her new role. 

On a separate point, but continuing with the theme of evolution, after my first week at Sedbergh, I already realise how different it is to the school I attended in the 70’s. This point is emphasized by the letter from the Headmaster, Dan Harrison, included in this Newsletter. Please read the letter, absorb what it says, and do take Dan up on his offer if you would like to discuss this further. 

As I say, evolution is a good thing. My appointment now allows more time to meet with many of you, in the UK and around the world. I will be in touch! However, in the meantime, if you are coming to Sedbergh please let me know. Tea and buns await you in our humble offices! 

Jan van der Velde 

Director of Alumni Relations and Fundraising