A former student of King William’s College and a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, David Bellamy has flown aircraft operationally all over the world. He is now based in the US alongside the US Air Force, but on returning home informed students leaving the College in Castletown, that the Isle of Man ‘is not just the centre of the Irish Sea, but the centre of the entire world!’
David, who joined The Buchan School in 1995 and completed the International Baccalaureate at King William’s College in 2005, was the Guest of Honour at Founders’ Day on May 28th, a prize day for students and a leaving ceremony for the School’s Upper Sixth.
A former Head of School and Under Officer in the CCF, David, who attended RAF Cranwell, and has approximately 1,000 flying hours to his name on eight different aircraft, said: “I am especially honoured to be here today. College is very important to me and holds a special place in my memory.
“I learnt some very valuable lessons here including, that there is nothing uncool about working hard and that this reaps rewards. I learnt the importance of respect, friendship and of trust. I also learnt that everyone is different, and that being different is a good thing. Most important of all I learnt about empathy, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and more important than anything I learnt in the classroom, these values and beliefs that King William’s College instilled in me, follow me everywhere I go.
“From a start of watching planes by Junior House, since I have left College I have become a leader and learnt to fly, I’ve had a dice or two with death, and I have flown on operations. I have lost several friends along the way and have seen pretty grisly things. I have been all over the world and used awesome technology. I have saved lives. King William’s College helped me to prepare for all of these things by providing a broad and rounded education in what is an amazing setting. Wherever I have found myself around the world, be it at sea, in the air, in the desert, or the cold and wet, I often find myself thinking back to the time I spent here, and the many fond memories that I have of this institution and its people.
“Turning to the Upper Sixth leavers, you enter today into a new chapter in your life and I hope you will seek and find many of the adventures I have been fortunate enough to have found. Rest assured that with an international education from this small Island on the Atlantic edge, you could not be better placed to face the challenges and adventures that lie ahead. Tomorrow, you take on increasing independence and a duty to do your family and former teachers proud in whatever it is you decide to devote yourself to. Be the change you want to see in the world. Take chances, have fun, push the boundaries and be yourself. Accept that you love the Isle of Man and that wherever you end up, you’ll keep on coming back here, time and time again. After all, this is not just the centre of the Irish Sea but the centre of the entire world!”
Chairman of the Governors Nigel Wood extended a warm College welcome to His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, Sir Richard Gozney and Lady Gozney and addressed the marquee. He said: “I love Founder’s Day because it is always such a rich tapestry of history and celebration, interwoven into a brief moment in time to mark your success, boys and girls, young men and women.
“Life is not always a bowl of cherries, in fact it can be pretty bloody at times, but if you have that true grit, the grit that comes from determination, kindness, empowerment, respect, with integrity, love for your fellow man or woman, you may not have all the answers or even know exactly what to do, but I am willing to bet, you will have an inkling, an ingrained sense of right and wrong as to how to deal with it. That is what this School will give you; it has given it to so many in the past and will give to so many in the future.”
Acting Principal Joss Buchanan began his address by highlighting to the audience of parents, staff, alumni and students that David was the first OKW Guest of Honour from the International Baccalaureate generation and was in the second cohort of students to do the Diploma, after the College introduced the IB in 2002.
Mr Buchanan said: “I think in two key ways the IB has changed the character of the School. Firstly, it has given the Sixth Form and the School as a whole a much clearer academic focus. It has also developed our international dimension. We are a Manx school and we are very proud to be. We’re very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place and to be part of such a strong community but, much like the Island as a whole, we have to be outward looking and prepare our students for the global world in which they will study and work. We have had international students at the College for over 100 years now, but the IB has enabled us to widen our reach significantly. This current Upper Sixth is one of the most diverse groups of nationalities we have ever had. Ben, our Head of School, is a proud Manxman, and our Head Girl in contrast, is Fatima and she comes from Khartoum in the Sudan.”
As the ceremony drew to a close Head of School Ben Collins offered his peers some advice. He said: “Flight Lieutenant Bellamy has reinforced for me, and I hope others here today, what is possible when we leave this place, when we venture into the big wide world as OKWs and the opportunities we have, grounded as we have been with our Isle of Man KWC education.
“Finally, if I were to travel back in time seven years, and imagine this was my first Founders’ Day, what could the Head of School have said to me then that would have been useful in the next six years? I would say, realise that you are part of one big family. There will be ups and downs, fallings out and making up, new friends and long-lived friends, but seize every opportunity that pleases you and make the most of this unique chance to be part of the KWC family. Even though I’ve only just left, whenever I think of school, I smile. I hope you’ll do the same.”