Ross Haines, a former Head Boy at St John’s on-the-Hill School, who went on to become a prefect at Dean Close, receives a letter of praise from the Brandon Trust.

Dear Sir,

My name is Samantha Dee and I’m the Inclusion coordinator and Employment project lead for the Brandon Trust, a registered charity that supports adults and young people with learning disabilities.

A few years ago, I set up a swimming group for the people we support for which Ross became a lifeguard. Ross was an instant hit, immediately interacting with the people we were supporting in the water, he was never asked to get in, he just did. He was the first to help when we were transferring people into the pool, using the overhead tracking hoist, reassuring them as they were lowered in. I was completely taken aback by how confident, caring and respectful he was to people with additional needs.

In the group we have a chap called Paul who is a very good swimmer but in social settings can be quite solitary. They instantly bonded, with complete mutual respect for each other and swam together each week, Ross would encourage Paul all the way and his swimming got even better, they played games and had races. Paul always enjoyed coming swimming but now he looked forward to it even more.

This is totally down to Ross and the confidence, respect and friendship he gave to Paul. They were always laughing and fooling around which brought delight to myself and all the staff that were present supporting the others in the pool. Some of the other members of the group either have no verbal communication, limited communication, are blind and/or deaf, but that never posed a problem to Ross who assisted, interacted and communicated with them all. He made sure he knew all their names and reacted to their individual needs accordingly. Not once did he appear unsure or sorry for them, he was empathetic, caring and respectful.

Last Wednesday was Ross’s last day due to his exams, it was very emotional for us all as he has been such a huge part of our group and we will miss him so much.

Ross wanted to buy Paul a gift so Paul would remember him, half way through the session he presented Paul with a pair of goggles; the look on Paul’s face was priceless! Ross has promised Paul he will keep in touch. When Ross is back down this way visiting his brother, he has said he will bring his trunks and pop in for a swim with Paul.

I can only commend you and your school for installing such qualities into your pupils.

I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to meet and work with Ross and personally will miss him, but we as a group wish him all the luck in the world with his exams and for his very bright and successful future.

Kind regards

Samantha Dee

Inclusion Coordinator

Employment Project LeaderStroud

Brandon Trust is a registered UK award-winning charity providing individualised support and services to approximately 1,500 adults, young people and children with learning disabilities or autism across Southern England, including London. We believe that everyone should be free to live their life in the way they choose, and our job is to support them to make that happen.