A special invitation for Castle alumni all over the world
Dr. J. Hugh Horton,
Vice-Provost and Executive Director, BISC
requests that you
Please join us for a Grand Celebration of 25 years of Teaching and Learning at The Bader International Study Centre, Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex.
In 2019, we will celebrate 25 years since the BISC opened its doors to the first students. We are inviting Castle alumni from all over the world to join us for the Canada Day weekend, to raise a glass and commemorate the occasion with us. Our aim is to welcome back alumni from every year that the BISC has been in existence!
Formal invitations and registration details will follow in 2018, but in the meantime, we would be grateful if you would kindly indicate your interest in being added to the invitation list for this special event at your earliest convenience, since the majority of all future communications will be by email.
Please forward this message to your BISC contacts in your area to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be on the invitation list.
Phone: +44 (0)1323 834471
Post: Office of Advancement | Bader International Study Centre | Herstmonceux Castle, Hailsham, East Sussex, UK | BN27 1RN
Running 52 marathons in 52 weeks helped Adrian Thomas share his experience and tackle the stigma of mental health issues in the workplace.
Adrian Thomas, Catering Manager at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC), began his weekly marathon challenge with two goals; maintain a healthy lifestyle, and raise awareness about the stigma that surrounds mental health issues in the workplace.
Fresh from the final marathon of his 52 in 52 Challenge and on the heels of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK (May 14 to 20), Mr. Thomas and the BISC have big plans to support student and employee mental health.
Mr. Thomas lives with depression and had a mental health crisis in 2011 that led to a yearlong period when he was unable to work, which caused anxiety and hardship for him and his family.
“Fortunately, I have a very supportive wife, Michelle, and an adorable son, Edwin, and several close friends who have helped me hugely as I came out of that bad period in my life,” says Mr. Thomas.
Mr. Thomas took up running during this time, having read that it can help with symptoms of depression. He joined his local running club, The Hailsham Harriers, and set ever-increasing mileage targets to slowly increase his endurance levels until he was able to run marathons and even ultra-marathons.
When Mr. Thomas reflects on his experiences, he describes a stigma in the workplace at his previous employers regarding mental health issues and a lack of understanding. He also describes the frustration that his wife experienced because she felt she had no one she could turn to who could help her understand what he was going through.
In April 2017, Mr. Thomas entered the 52 in 52 Challenge, where competitors pledge to complete 52 official marathons in 52 weeks. His additional goal was to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and address the stigma associated with discussing mental health in the workplace.
Mr. Thomas completed the challenge in just 50 weeks by participating in marathon races across southern England in Sussex, Kent, and Surrey. He wore through six pairs of running shoes and spent roughly $6,000 (£3,500) on race fees, travel, accommodations, and gear.
Mr. Thomas launched his own charity, Different Minds, on World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10) in 2017. The charity trains volunteers in recognizing the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues to become Mental Health First Aiders.
“I firmly believe that by opening up a dialogue where it is okay to talk about our mental health, we as a society can change attitudes,” says Mr. Thomas. “Our volunteers are trained to go anywhere and say, ‘We can all suffer from depression and it’s okay to talk about it!’”
Mr. Thomas partnered with the student government at the BISC in March for an auction fundraiser to support Different Minds, and to broaden the conversation at the Castle about mental health at work and school.
Safeguarding student mental health
At the BISC, the on-site Student Services Team places a particular emphasis on promoting positive student mental health at the Castle. The team is stepping up their services this year by growing their Peer Health Educator Program (now in its second year), providing free access to two professional counsellors through ten bookable sessions every week, and by creating an environment of open dialogue year-round.
“Our Student Services team take a holistic approach to students’ health and wellness. We offer spaces for conversations and direct students to appropriate resources, such as personal counselling,” says Roxy Denniston-Stewart, Student and Enrolment Services Manager at the BISC. “Students are also provided with a space to speak up and share stories with peers. Our goal is to provide students at the BISC with the resources and tools they need to support their wellbeing in an interdependent community.”
Events to promote healthy living happen year-round at the BISC, including the BISC Mental Health Week in the fall term. The week will focus on coping with exam stress and promoting the benefits of exercise, diet, and sleep during the revision period.
To read more about Mr. Thomas’s story and the work of Different Minds, check out the Facebook page.
Provost Benoit-Antoine Bacon recently announced he will step down at the end of the month to become President and Vice-Chancellor at Carleton University in Ottawa. Principal Daniel Woolf announced that his replacement will be Tom Harris, who will begin his appointment as Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) effective July 1, 2018.
Currently head of Advancement at Queen’s, Vice-Principal Harris is a Queen’s man through and through. He graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Science in 1975 and returned in 1986 as a faculty member and Queen’s National Scholar in the Department of Chemical Engineering. He served as the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science from 1996 to 2007. He then became Vice-Principal (Advancement) in 2010 and successfully led the Initiative Campaign, which saw benefactors contribute an impressive $640 million for a range of university priorities, far exceeding the original target of $500 million.
On June 7, the BISC Board of Trustees agreed to proceed with a major capital project — the refurbishment of the old Physics Block building next to The David Smith Residence. The space, which has been empty since Queen’s acquired the Herstmonceux Estate, will be repurposed into a new teaching lab and innovation design space on the Castle campus.
The Castle has been running a Science stream since 2016 and the program has been very successful in attracting new students and diversifying the course offering. Currently, students in the Biology and Chemistry streams use the laboratory facilities at nearby Battle Abbey School. This new dedicated lab space will not only become a new home for them, but also expand the Castle’s course offerings further by supporting the work our faculty are doing in onsite archaeology and conservation research. The new lab will also afford the BISC the opportunity to offer a whole new range of Physics and material science-based courses.
Preliminary architect’s plans are in place, with the goal of having the new lab ready for students by Fall 2019. We expect to be able to offer an exclusive tour of the facility to alumni and guests attending the BISC’s 25th Anniversary celebrations at the end of June 2019, prior to its official unveiling.
Some pictures of the current space and of the new floor plan accompany this article, but you will have to visit the Castle next June to witness the transformation in person. If you have yet to register your interest in attending the BISC’s 25th Anniversary celebrations (June 29 to 30, 2019), please take a moment to let us know.
The Herstmonceux Castle estate is a wonderful space for everyone to explore and enjoy. Now, former Scholar-in-Residence Dave Brown has taken the experience even further. Dave has created an app called Interpretours, where visitors can access an interactive map of the Castle on their mobile phones. This ongoing project identifies points of interest around the gardens and grounds, writing compelling descriptions of them and suggesting interesting routes to guide our visitors around them.
Users are encouraged to update the descriptions of the points of interest and include their own stories about the Castle and its features by providing photos and sharing anecdotes, trivia, and childhood reminisces.
“It’s the human element that makes the Castle’s history after all,” says Dave. “History is brought to life by the stories of the people who have lived it, so the Herstmonceux Castle Interpretour is an excellent opportunity to share your stories.”
Though there’s no substitute for a knowledgeable tour guide, Dave hopes that the platform will enhance the experiences of visitors and Castle community members by delivering GPS-triggered multimedia content to their mobile phones, providing wayfinding information, interpretive routes of the extensive grounds, and interesting facts about the history, architecture, and evolution of the Castle and its grounds.
For many students, the prospect of living and working on the grounds of the Herstmonceux Castle estate, nestled in the English countryside, is what truly sets the BISC apart as an experience studying abroad.
The task of managing the Castle’s beautiful but vast estate lies with new Grounds and Gardens Manager Guy Lucas and his team of gardeners and grounds staff. All told, the Castle’s estate comprises more than 600 acres of land, which includes marshland, farmland, formal gardens, amenity grassland, wild flower meadows, and both commercial and amenity woodland. It is a demanding job, as each area requires a specific and structured management program to maintain its aesthetic value and ensure the health, resilience, and biodiversity of the flora and fauna in each area.
The fine borders and manicured lawns nearest the Castle quite rightly receive plenty of attention, as they are mainly for the students’ and public’s benefit, but behind the scenes, Guy’s team works alongside conservation bodies such as Natural England and The UK Forestry Commission to improve all corners of the estate ecologically. With more than 130 acres of woodland — including some semi-ancient woodlands (recorded in maps made in the 1600s, though some trees are likely to be even older) — there is always work to be done.
Guy and his team are currently working on The Park: the last remnant of an historic deer park which once surrounded Herstmonceux Castle. In its prime, the Castle estate held upwards of 200 fallow deer and was used as a formal hunting ground by the Lord of the Manor. Today, The Park has become a dense woodland of birch and sycamore trees. However, through grant funding from Natural England, Herstmonceux Castle has a 10-year plan to restore this area back to its former parkland style. By carefully removing some of the non-native and more prolific tree species, Guy hopes to return this area to a floristically rich, diverse, and historic parkland once again. The estate already has approximately 20 roe deer moving through the woodlands from dawn until dusk and upwards of 30 fallow deer that roam the estate in large herds, taking shelter in the woodlands at night.
The Castle has also declared war on rhododendron bushes. If you wander practically anywhere in the woods, you will see many large, dark-green rhododendron bushes that were introduced to the estate in Victorian times. While it may produce pretty flowers, as a non-native and invasive species it is capable of dominating and suppressing native flora and fauna, leaving a lasting negative effect on areas that can take years to recover. The leaves, bark, roots and flowers poison the woodland ground, turning the soil so acidic nothing can grow in it but the rhododendron.
Guy says, “So, that’s basically the plan. Over the next few years you will hopefully see fewer rhododendron, and after some other strategic felling projects, and the help of Mother Nature, you will start to witness new vistas opening up, greater diversity, and an overall much healthier Castle estate. After the most recent woodland thinning, we are already seeing some fantastic signs of regeneration with elder hazel, honeysuckle, bluebell, wood anemone and foxglove making a strong appearance in the understorey this spring.”