Principal's assembly 21st April 2020


George “Bud” Day flew planes. Well, Major George Day flew planes over Vietnam during that conflict in the 1960s. Until, that is, August 26th 1967 when he was shot down, breaking his arm in three places and badly straining his knee.

He was captured by locals, had his arm put in a makeshift cast and his ankles bound together, before being thrown into a hole in the ground, waiting to be transported further north.

On his first night in captivity, Day managed to escape and found himself 20 miles from the nearest US air force base. He climbed hills, crossed rivers and even floated down one river on pieces of bamboo. For two weeks, he survived by drinking dew and rainwater and by eating berries and frogs. He navigated the dense jungle by night, and slept and hid during daylight, evading capture.

On the thirteenth night, he found himself one mile short of the base and with a major problem: the perimeter was likely to be heavily mined, plus, in the darkness, he could easily be mistaken for an opponent and shot by the guards.

So, should he wait until light but risk capture or should he go for it in the dark and risk getting shot?

It’s easy to say that we don’t face many difficult choices like that in our lives.

It’s easy to say that we don’t face the difficult days like those people currently working in the NHS or for the emergency services.

It’s easy to say that all we need to do is stay at home and get on with our on-line learning.

But life isn’t actually that easy at the moment, is it?

This certainly came home to me on Saturday when we were Facetiming my parents over in York. It suddenly struck me that it has been some time since we saw them and, in all likelihood, it will be a long time before we do again.

We are also surrounded by bad news. Any time we switch on the tele, all we’ll find is the latest sad data on cases and deaths across the UK. It would be very easy to let our mood drop.

There is so much help and advice available from great organisations like Mind, YoungMinds and LeedsMind. They all have excellent blogs as well as on-line and telephone contacts.

We are all different, with different needs, but there are several useful general ideas:

  • Get some fresh air every day if you can and get some exercise. Do Joe Wicks or, better still, Mr Walker’s challenges. Save Kelly Holmes for when you’ve got a bit fitter!
  • Build that exercise into a relatively normal routine around your work.
  • If you get stuck, ask your teachers; they are waiting to interact with you.
  • Stay hydrated and eat well.
  • Stay in touch with your friends and family, support and check on them, on-line of course.

Bud Day, by the way, chose to wait for light.

It didn’t work out; he was re-captured and spent the next six years of his life imprisoned. But, it didn’t change the man, just as the current situation won’t change you if you don’t let it.


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