St Benedict's School Ealing, west London welcomed The Baroness Cox of Queensbury as Guest of Honour at Prize Giving this year. Baroness Cox founded the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust or (HART), which provides aid and advocacy for people suffering oppression and persecution around the world. Known as 'the feisty baroness', she narrowly escaped an ambush by Islamist gunmen during a humanitarian visit to Nigeria last November.
Describing herself as "a nurse and social scientist by intention, and a baroness by astonishment," Caroline Cox gave an inspiring address about her humanitarian work, which takes her to conflict and post-conflict zones. She spoke of the people of Sudan, who are forced to live in snake-infested mountain caves in order to protect themselves from militia attacks. Through all the chaos and danger they face, she said, their priority is always education.
Baroness Cox described how children routinely take a large rock with them to lessons, which take place outside, to keep their exercise books safe in the event of a militia attack. She also read from a poem by a young Polish boy, written under martial law in the 1980s: "I believe in the sun even though I cannot see it, and I believe in love even though I cannot feel it."
Love, she said, is not about sentimentality and mere words but about actions. Addressing St Benedict's students, Baroness Cox said: "Always believe that love is there. Be the love. Give the love. Be filled with enthusiasm, which means 'God within us', throughout your lives."
In his opening address, the Headmaster, Andrew Johnson, said: "We emphasise the importance of academic success and are celebrating impressive academic achievement at Prize Giving. What distinguishes us as a Benedictine school, however, is how we help pupils to build self-confidence, resilience, discipline, generosity, compassion, faith, eloquence, and wisdom. In short, it's how we develop character, and how we equip them to face the pressure and pace of modern life."
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