Sometimes we at Sedbergh are blessed with visits from those whom we haven’t seen for quite a while. This month we welcomed Nigel Rich (L58-62), and his wife Cynthia.
Nigel has had a stellar business career, being at one point Managing Director of Jardine Matheson Holdings in Hong Kong, amongst many other senior positions throughout his working life. He returned to Sedbergh to spend his first night in the town since 1963.
The visit was not purely social. He had offered to speak to the pupils as part of our drive to inspire the next generation when making their career choice. In this he was brilliant. None of us had met him before, and of course one always assumes that a distinguished person of business would have certain ways. But Nigel was the most charming individual and was able to talk to the panel of pupils at their level, encouraging them to ask questions and studiously talking his time to answer concisely but in full.
Afterwards he was interviewed on camera by the Head of School, Olivia (Livy) R. Here was an interaction of youth talking to experience, of one generation seeking guidance from another, of advice sought, and knowledge given. Both did well, and Livy held her nerve and remained undaunted while Nigel demonstrated his consummate charm which no doubt made him so successful in commercial life.
There were many points to note but one thing that stuck in the mind was that Nigel felt he hadn’t performed well at Sedbergh. He regretted not being on the 1st XV. This feeling of failure had spurred him on. It had made him want to succeed. This was an interesting and honest reflection and in itself quite inspiring, the message being just because you’re not a ‘big shot’ at school, doesn’t mean you can’t aim for the stars – and get there.
Thank you, Nigel, for coming to visit. We hope you will come back soon. There are many more questions that the pupils want to ask.
Jan van der Velde
Director of Alumni Development