Ben Harding joined QEH as a pupil back in 2012. He left in 2019 but returned in 2023 for a summer term of coaching cricket.
We were delighted to have Ben back at QEH. Paul Joslin, former Director of Sport (1997 – 2023), has said;
“Ben has been a great asset to the QEH team over the last term. He threw himself into the position of cricket coach and really motivated and improved the skills of our young cricket players. He played a massive part in the success of the girls’ cricket this year as we had QEH’s first-ever all-female team. Thank you, Ben, for your continued support. We wish you all the best for your future endeavors, we know you’ll be great.”
You left QEH in 2019, what have you been up to since then?
I studied for a degree in International Relations at the University of Birmingham. I graduated in summer 2022 with the view of going straight into postgraduate study in September. However, I decided to have a year out as it was the most opportune time to have an operation for a serious hip problem that had been plaguing me throughout university.
With my playing days now greatly diminished, I wished to return to cricket in some form and my first thought was QEH. As a result, the opportunity came about by emailing Paul Joslin and hitting send with fingers crossed! Very thankfully he said yes, and in the meantime, I qualified as a foundation coach with the ECB.
How have you enjoyed being back at QEH over the summer term?
To say I enjoyed it would be a vast understatement. Being back was an absolute joy and I have many of my ex-teachers to thank for welcoming me back with such open arms. Jos seamlessly intertwined me with the existing cricket setup which eventually led to me warming up the first team, taking the first girls’ team and last, but by absolutely no means least, the mighty under 13b’s. They all tried hard and played with a smile on their face. These things are the least you can ask for, which made working with them for the few months I did, a delight. I hope they all enjoyed it and gained as much from it as I did!
Despite being here on a voluntary basis, my view was to just be as helpful as possible, being up at Failand as often as I could and just make the most of being back. As a result, I was much more heavily involved than I expected to be, and I relished the opportunity in being so. I have Jos to thank for that! If I work for anyone as brilliant as Jos again, I will have had a very lucky career.
How was it coaching with some of your former teachers?
The first week or so was admittedly quite strange. Free admittance into the staff room was peculiar, but being on a first name basis with old teachers was something that felt funny throughout the whole summer! Regularly I would revert to Mr or Sir. For example, Mr Clements countered immediately with “No Ben, it’s Andy now”. But then again when talking to the boys or girls I would have to remember to call them by Mr … and not their first name. It doesn’t seem a challenge but being back as an adult compared to being a pupil, it was a strange one.
However, I quickly found the groove and it was great being involved with them all, I should also thank them for letting me participate in their sessions so freely. The few away fixtures we had were great fun to be involved with as a coach. The novel sense of seniority I experienced at both home and away fixtures, during training, and when conversing with parents was a great learning experience that shall stand me in good stead for the future.
What will you miss about QEH?
On a personal level, the overwhelming sense of belonging. I just feel like I belong at QEH in some capacity. I still wear much of my old QEH sports gear that still fits because I still have a strong affiliation to a place that served me so well for so long. Also, it saves me having to buy new shirts, shorts and the like but that’s not quite as an exotic detail necessary for the story. More seriously, I’m sure much of this sentiment is the same for many other Old Es too.
In September I will start a postgraduate degree. I will study the MA Law at the University of Bristol. It is a change of scene compared to my political roots but having thought about doing a law conversion since I was in Sixth Form, I’m very much looking forward to finally getting stuck in. Where it takes me is yet to be discovered but I’m excited for whatever is held in store, nonetheless.
Thank you to Ben for your continued support of QEH.
If you too would like to give back to QEH by volunteering your time, please get in touch to find out more about opportunities, including our mentoring program, by emailing Abi at firstname.lastname@example.org
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