This weekend we held our first Biennial Service for members of the Guild (alumnae of Bedford High School) at the Bedford Girls’ School site on Cardington Road. I was invited to speak at the Service and as I spoke I was struck once again by the importance and value that intelligent all girls’ education serves in the lives of women.
The alumnae who attended represented many generations of women, the oldest graduating in 1942. They all felt very passionately about their education. It had shaped them into who they were, what they believed in, what they valued and what they aspired to.
These generations of women had faced dilemmas, challenges and obstacles which they had battled and overcome in their own individual ways. They recognised, too, that the next generation of women faced even more pressures and demands and needed the support of older generations to coach and mentor them through. I was struck by the number of women who attended who wanted to help the next generation of women. To pass on what they had learned to enable the girls to succeed. They wanted to help them to be aspirational without falling to the pressures of trying to be perfect, to encourage them to have their own independent views and not to be afraid to voice them. They had recognised that in today’s world with the growing dominance of the celebrity culture, gender stereotyping and the demands to look good in a particular way, that daring to be different, trying to be an individual had becoming even more challenging.
Our heritage schools, Bedford High School and the Dame Alice Harpur School served well the young women of Bedford, creating impressive, dignified intelligent role models, and Bedford Girls’ School will continue to do the same. The future for intelligent, thinking young women in Bedford is secure, the alumnae’s legacy will live on in the women today and our own girls’ legacy will continue to live on in the women tomorrow. The girls are fortunate indeed to have so many impressive role models as their alumnae.