In a change to the usual format this term, the Tom Avery lecture was held during the day and targeted specifically at the Upper Fifth as they finished their rehearsal exams.

Alex Staniforth, in his brilliantly illustrated talk “Mountains of the Mind”, told us about some of his personal challenges. How he suffered from bullying at school, how he discovered mountaineering and endurance sports, how injury resulted in setbacks, mental health problems and eating disorders and then how he overcame these to challenge himself on the world’s tallest mountains – only to be met with defeat yet again. Each time he found the motivation to pick himself up and move on to other challenges.

In the end Alex realised he gained true satisfaction from challenges purely against himself and that if he was able to raise money for others, such as the Young Minds charity, then so much the better. His most recent challenge was to run/cycle/walk the 5000km to the highest points in all 100 of Britain’s counties, which he achieved in an incredible 72 days.

Everything that Alex had to say fitted with the cornerstones of mental health that we try to promote at Cranleigh: self-worth, service to others, exercise, diet, and personal challenge.

Many thanks for a refreshing, honest and hugely motivational talk which had so much to say to our pupils as exam stress and the ephemeral approbation of social media become increasingly dominant.