Motto Ps


Without wanting to dramatise my credentials I have been associated with Sedbergh for 47 years, nearly 10% of its existence. I have found the journey fascinating, not least because of the profound affection that my fellow travelers have shown for Sedbergh School. Yes, in my day, and for those of my vintage, it was a hard place. Yet still, for many, the experience was an uplifting one, although perhaps we didn’t realise it at the time. The motto, Dura Virum Nutrix,  was apposite. We wore it’s meaning with pride.

Times have moved on and unless you have been ‘off-grid’ for months you will know that the Headmaster has undergone a consultation process to review the motto. This review was done for a variety of reasons. These have been explained in his excellent letters on the subject AN UPATE FROM THE HEADMASTER DAN HARRISON REGARDING THE SCHOOL MOTTO – OS Club ( and which have culminated in a new School motto ‘Never shall you strive in vain’ to be adopted as from January 2025.

There has been much debate. Personal friends of mine, people for whom I have great respect, have argued most eloquently both for and against. Passions have, at times, run high. I can understand that, and I empathise. In the end the Headmaster had to make a difficult decision, in part to make sure the School was relevant to today’s pupils and parents.

There are some important points to make about all this. Firstly, while ultimately the motto is changing, Dan Harrison has worked at Sedbergh for 30 years. He understands the emotion that has brought forth such a vigour of correspondence. While he cannot please everyone, such is the lot of a CEO, he holds those who have given such a magnificent defence of the Stern Nurse in high regard. Debate is good, debate is healthy; if only we had more of it in society.

I would also add that Dura Virum Nutrix isn’t banished. It will always be a part of our history, it will always be on the face of the Cloisters, it will always be part of who I am, and of those who grew up under its banner.

But that was then. A new generation of Sedberghians will grow up under a different motto. It is a line taken from the Wilson Run song. I have to say it has found much favour, partly because it still reminds us of our past, and the rich heritage of the School that we have been fortunate enough to inherit. 

Jan van der Velde

Development Director

Jan van der Velde