On Tuesday evening the seniors were treated to what must have been one the most fascinating lectures we have had in recent years. 160 entranced pupils listened for an hour as Bertie Portal retold the highs and lows of his epic rowing journey across the Atlantic.
Setting off from La Gomera and aiming for Barbados, he and his rowing partner, James Cash, managed the 3000 mile crossing in 59 days. Along the way they had to deal with crisis moments such as the soul-destroying decision to turn back as their electrics failed only to set off again six days behind the rest of the field. They were guided by whales, broke six oars, were stranded 1000 miles from anywhere for a week with no way of moving, stuck in their coffin-like cabin and were flipped over by one of the many fifty foot-plus waves that battered them on their way.
Arriving in the West Indies having lost three stone each, the magnitude of their achievement can be measured by the fact that only ten of the original seventeen boats completed the crossing.
The fact that they raised over £426,000 for the fantastic Facing the World charity is a just reward for their titanic efforts. The school sat rapt and then bombarded Bertie with question after question, determined to lap up as much of this heroic feat that they could.
A great evening!