Lord Patten of Barnes, alumnus and Patron of St Benedict’s School in Ealing, presented the Patten Scholarships on November 12th.
Lord Patten attends the Sixth Form Scholars’ Evening each year. Chancellor of Oxford University and a Crossbench member of the House of Lords, Chris Patten was the last British Governor of Hong Kong and a Conservative politician until 2011.
In his address, Lord Patten said: “It is a pleasure and privilege to come to St Benedict’s. St Benedict’s made me. It taught me to read widely, to write a sentence which is free from cliché, and it gave me the wonderful Benedictine ideal of ‘moderation in all things.’ It provided an academic impetus which pushed me out into the world. And it is obviously encouraging these scholars to go out and take the world by the scruff of the neck.”
The evening was attended by parents and St Benedict’s scholars aged 11 upwards. It began with four Patten Scholars in their final year talking about how they had used their awards to develop their academic interests, by attending various university courses. They described how St Benedict’s had encouraged them to read widely, be intellectually curious and open to learning about all manner of things – from marine biology, and astrophysics to music and ancient Greek. The new Lower 6th academic scholars were then presented with their awards by Lord Patten, Abbot Martin Shipperlee and the Headmaster, Mr Johnson.
Finally, Lord Patten gave the scholars a high ideal to live up to: the Hellenic virtue of arete, which in the Homeric world meant achieving excellence in all things, and fulfilling one’s full potential. Sir Roger Bannister, he said, had exemplified arete; not only in running the first sub four-minute mile at the age of 25, while practising as a junior doctor, but in making an important contribution to academic medicine over the next forty years in the field of neurology. He urged St Benedict’s scholars to make the most of the wide experience that life has to offer: “University is not the end of the road. Go out and repay your parents, your genes, and St Benedict’s.”