Bellis: from the Latin for Daisy, the flower of the CLC coat of arms, and the Guild emblem.
The Bellis Society was established in 2004 to recognise the generosity and support of those who have chosen to leave a gift to College in their will.
Whether you choose to support the means-tested bursary programme, capital developments, or are content to allow us to allocate your gift to the area of greatest need, each gift we receive makes a valuable contribution to the education provided for future generations.
Joining Bellis signals your commitment to College and requires no immediate financial outlay from you. It allows us to keep you closely in touch with College life today and you choose your preferred level of involvement. For our part, we will invite you to at least one event each year, which we host in Cheltenham or, as we have more recently, in a city in the UK. In addition we will also invite you to special events in the College calendar as they arise each year.
Our membership comprises Guild members of all ages, former staff and parents. Irrespective of your interests, you are sure to enjoy the company of like-minded individuals, all with a shared passion for College and its community.
Rest assured we will respect your wishes whether you are keen for involvement or prefer to observe from a distance.
For an informal conversation and to find out more, please contact us or telephone +44(0)1242 520691.
I imagine all other old girls from Coll feel as I do, that they were hugely privileged to be given the opportunity to study and grow in the wonderful environment fostered by the school. As a consequence, I joined Bellis as I saw it as an opportunity to give something back. This was initially in the form of a pledged donation through my Will and later as a member of the Bellis Committee, which means I can also give my time.
Next year I will have spent thirty years sitting as a Magistrate on, what is now, The West and Central Hertfordshire Bench. Time passes and you do not even realise it has gone! I have a particular passion and commitment to The Youth Panel, and it can be challenging at times trying to understand what pulls young adults into crime. I have served as Deputy Chair of that Panel which can entail becoming involved in new procedures and initiatives before they are implemented. That too can be a challenge! However, through it all, there can be no doubt that it has been a rewarding experience and perhaps through that time I, along with colleagues who all give their time freely, have managed to do some good.
Away from this I have a love of gardening although it may be moot to say I have “green fingers”. That said, when the Spring comes there is a huge joy in seeing what you have sown come to fruition. I also love my horse racing and often wonder whether that can be blamed on Coll! Fortunately, I am no gambler; the love simply stems from the beauty of the animals themselves and the skills of the jockeys that ride them. As with many areas of life these days, it is so good (and way too late) to see women coming to the fore in the sport, even if the road has been rocky at times. There is no doubting their skill and commitment to succeed, something that again was instilled at school. If you drive hard enough, you can succeed in anything.
On this last point, succeeding, I have met some truly inspirational women through Bellis, some (I hope they do not mind me saying) much older than I. What is clear is that they were the people who opened the door for me to walk through. I think that says it all about Coll and what it stands for, and the commitment it has to produce well educated young women who are rounded and grounded at the same time. Bellis is a small part of that, and I am proud to be a part of it and hope many others can be encouraged to join those of us who are presently members.
1966–1973, St Clare/Bayshill
When I was asked to write this piece, I asked myself what was it that first prompted me to decide to make a contribution to College through my Will?
I realised that I had to go back further in time to ask how it came about that I reconnected with College as an institution, having largely drifted out of touch for a number of years after leaving in the 1980s, despite College’s best efforts trying to keep in contact with me as a Guild member.
After I had left College, I joined a multinational oil and gas company, and spent 25 years living and working in various locations around the world. Whilst it was very stimulating and challenging, it was also a bit of a nomadic existence, where most social contacts tended to arise through work one way or another.
I came to a point about 10 years into my career after I had completed a particularly isolated assignment, when I realised that I wanted to build a wider and more diverse social circle independent of work in my new location. So, I emailed the Guild Office at College and asked for a list of Guild contacts nearby, which was promptly sent to me. And that is how I came to get in touch with a small group of local College Guild members for social events.
I continued to do the same whenever I moved to subsequent assignments in other locations. My postings to the Middle East stand out in particular, as I was able to connect with an especially fun and fabulous group of “girls”. We had not all been contemporaries at College, we had a variety of backgrounds and had followed diverse career paths, and yet we spoke the same “language” and shared a mutual connection from having grown up in the same community.
Since then, I have returned to and settled in the UK. I was lucky to be able to join the Guild Reunion in May 2019, where I reconnected with girls whom I hadn’t seen since the 1980s. Even so, it was like picking up from a short break – memories of other girls, boarding houses, teachers, and escapades came flooding back. And it is incredible how strong and widespread the links are.
It has been so exciting to hear the great achievements of College girls, and to see the improvements made since my time at College: world-class new facilities such as the Parabola Arts Centre, the Health and Fitness Centre, as well as in other areas such as pastoral care. And 2020 brought new challenges with COVID-19, and yet I find it impressive and uplifting to read about the measures taken at College, and the general resilience and positivity displayed by the girls, staff and leadership, in the face of such challenges.
And that is the reason why I decided to make a contribution to College through my Will.
To me it is not merely a network of people, but it is much more about being part of a close community, a global family, with shared experiences and unspoken common bonds, which can be picked up fairly seamlessly any time.
I realised how lucky and grateful I was to be part of this family with a fantastic heritage to be hugely proud of. I had personally thrived in the College environment: it gave me a great foundation not only academically, but also a more well-rounded approach in terms of independence and independent thinking, self-belief, willingness to try new things, tenacity, resilience, tolerance, and supportiveness, all of which afforded me many opportunities after leaving College for living in a changing and challenging world.
A legacy can help other girls to experience the same inspiring education in a supportive community, to pursue their dreams. I cannot even begin to imagine all the potential challenges and career options in the future, but I can be sure that College will provide an outstanding environment to nurture the broad range of skills and traits required to navigate a myriad of uncertain paths.
So, for me, this is a simple but practical way to not only express my gratitude, but also to give a helping hand to enable the success of future generations of the College family.
The Bellis Committee was formed in 2015 and is a group of volunteers, its primary purpose being to encourage membership of Bellis and to support the work of the Development Office and its legacy programme.
We are delighted and grateful for the support of the following Committee members, all of whom are also members of the Bellis Society:
Chairman: Carolyn Dodwell (Roberson), 1977, St Hilda’s and Fauconberg
Sol Green, 1984, Bunwell and Elizabeth
Fenella Haddock, 1973, St Clare and Bayshill
Jo Homfray (parent of Ginny, 2005, St Margaret’s and Beale)
Carolyn Kirby (Treharne Jones), 1971, Farnley Lodge
Jessica Lazar, 2005, Sidney Lodge and St Hilda’s
Margie Leigh, 1963, St Margaret’s and Fauconberg