Welcome to the OMS website, keeping you in touch with the Millfield community far and wide.
2005
23/03/2015
I left Millfield in 1987. After taking a year out working with cows on a Kibbutz, I joined Liverpool University from where I graduated in 1991 with a degree in Civil Engineering. My first career followed on from this, and I spent 4 years working for Parkman Consulting Engineers, with a year seconded to Balfour Beatty constructing a tunnel, soon to be a sewer, under Leicester.

I then changed direction and trained to be an accountant with KPMG in Manchester, where I qualified in 1998; soon after qualification I started moving in the direction that really interested me, that of aid work. With the support of KPMG I arranged a secondment to Christian Aid as an overseas accountant and in a six-month period worked in six countries including Guatemala, Haiti, Palestine and Kosovo giving a variety of financial support.

The spell of experience with Christian Aid only whetted my appetite further and within a year I was working for the medical and humanitarian aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). I started by using my accountancy (and management) experience to take a role as a financial controller based in Delhi, but within three months found myself also part of a team reacting to the earthquake in Gujarat in January 2001. The role of financial controller was not purely financial, also having responsibility for national staff and legal matters, supporting programmes in Assam and Kashmir.

In the next couple of years I worked in Project Coordination positions in Kashmir, Indonesia, in Sudan and Liberia, each of which increased my breadth of experience and exposure to more complex, insecure and demanding positions, as well as to different populations with differing needs.

My MSF career most recently took me to Darfur, again in Sudan, where I accepted a 3 month contract in July 2004, and found myself still there ten months later. My initial role was that of project coordinator where I was responsible for 2 teams, up to 30 international and around 500 national staff, working with displaced people living in enormous camps in South Darfur. We provided (and still provide) nutritional and medical care to the severely malnourished, run clinics, provide clean water and sanitation facilities. My role in that was managing the teams, national and international, responsible for security, liaison with the authorities and other organisations as well as programme direction.

Later, I moved into other roles in Darfur, running exploratory trips to locations where no aid was being provided, to assess whether/how we should intervene. This role also involved a lot of advocacy or lobbying, bringing me into contact with many people in influential positions both within the local structure and within other organisations and the UN.

This work has directly brought me into touch with populations living in terrible situations, and for whom we as an organisation can assist to save lives and alleviate suffering. Although I am not medical, my role in coordination, in advocacy, speaking out both through the press publicly and within the international community as well as ensuring that we run programmes which respond fast and effectively makes me feel that I have directly had some impact.

The work is tough, the responsibilities huge, towards those working for the organisation as well as the beneficiaries, but the rewards are immense, in terms of what we can achieve and how we can make others aware of what is happening and therefore in pushing change. The experience of having lived in such diverse cultures and situations is wonderful, as is the opportunity to have plenty of time off between contracts!

I do not know yet what I will be doing next, it depends on where the needs are, but for the short term I will remain with MSF and possibly will join our emergency team and use my experience to do things like set up new missions, lead exploratory visits to new locations etc. I then plan to return to the UK, and am also looking into what options might be open to me after 5+ years of work overseas.
During my time at Millfield I worked and played hard. The school gave me an amazing opportunity to develop both my sporting and academic skills and most importantly make some fantastic friends. A-levels went well and I gained a place at Cambridge University. My passion for sport burned brightly and I was throwing the discus well, gaining my international senior vest and was playing netball and basketball better than ever. With an eye on the future I opted to have a gap year working at IBM, which gave me an opportunity to gain some much needed computing expertise.

I threw myself into university life with familiar gusto, whilst studying Natural Sciences I quickly found my way to the netball and basketball courts and made sure I was making frequent trips to London to see my Discus coach with my eyes firmly fixed on the Commonwealth Games. I was also enticed down to the boat house to try rowing. The attraction was immediate. I decided to row bow side, with the blade out to the left-hand side of the boat, I thought as I threw the discus left-handed, this would work my right hand side harder and effectively even me out. I found I really enjoyed being a cog in a large unit and most excitingly I seemed to pick things up really quickly! I benefited from the aerobic fitness it gave me and it seemed to compliment my other sports.



However despite throwing a personal best the next summer, well over the Commonwealth qualifying distance, I failed to impress the selectors and stayed at home whilst the athletics team travelled to Victoria. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was a turning point for me, and by the time I left Cambridge, rowing, not athletics, was my major sport and I had my eyes firmly fixed on the national squad.

I gave myself a year to break into the team. It was going to be tough, juggling a new job with a marketing company with training. For the first time in my life I had no choice but to concentrate on just one sport. While I missed the variety dreadfully, the results were good and I established myself as one of the potential athletes for the Sydney Olympic Games and earned Lottery funding. Training was intense with up to five sessions a day. I pushed my body harder than ever before, hungry for Olympic success, until I discovered that a pain in my side I’d had for a week was actually a stress fracture to my rib. I lost my place in the quad which went on to get a silver medal without me. I raced in the double scull and came ninth. It was devastating to work so hard for something, and miss out so close to the end. It took me twenty-four hours to say, “Well done” to one of my closest friends who sculled in the boat and three and a half years to watch the race. However, having come so close I wasn’t going to give up, and I returned home from Australia determined to train harder and to make my body stronger and more resilient.

However things didn’t go to plan, a slipped disc in my back, followed by periods of illness, interrupted my training and I had to take a year out. For the first time in many years, I put myself before my sport and the break did wonders for healing both my mind and my body. With the help of a sports psychologist, Britt Tajet-Foxell, I worked on the ethos of “train cleverer” rather than “train harder”. Making sure I understood what I was trying to achieve with each training session and how this was going to add to my strengths as an athlete. I re-entered the international arena. In 2002 I was fifth in the quad and in 2003 we improved this position to fourth in the world. We had a really strong group of athletes looking for selection in the Olympic year. Eventually, Elise Laverick and I were selected for the double scull. With hard work and a silver medal at the Munich World Cup, we showed our potential but needed to improve on our consistency and race tactics. We trained intensely, living and breathing, rowing, sharing a double room, and rarely being out of sight of each other. Every session was discussed and evaluated with our coach, Miles Forbes-Thomas, until we were on the plane to Athens and the Olympic regatta.

It was exciting to arrive at the regatta course, see the many international friends and feel the buzz around the boating area. Because we started racing on the first day of the Olympics, we were not marching in the opening ceremony so missed the massive inspirational boost that it gives. This was compensated for unexpectedly one morning when we passed the Olympic torch relay making its way along the marathon route. Seeing the runner with the lit flame, a lump formed in my throat and I was surprised to feel tears gather in my eyes. I knew I had my chance to perform at my best at an Olympic Games and no one needed to tell me how important the next ten days were going to be. Elise and I went into the regatta seeded fourth; this meant we drew the New Zealand twins, the double world champions, in our heat. This was a great opportunity for us to see how we had moved on since the World Cups and we put together a solid race to come second. This meant we had to race again two days later in the repercharge to gain our place in the Olympic final. Despite overwhelming nerves and a delay for bad weather we crossed the line in first place. We were in our first Olympic final.

Every move was timetabled for the next few days to maximise our performance. Eventually at 9.45 on Saturday morning we were sitting on the start line on for the Olympic final. All the preparation had been done, I knew I just had to concentrate, make each of the 240 strokes down the 2000m track count. As a crew we split the race into four 500m quarters. In the first 500m we planned to go out fast and stay in contact with the field, but the boat didn’t feel quite right and we had to work very hard for our boat speed. As we went through the 500m mark, Elise gave a call and the boat responded. I could feel the power we were creating together and knew that we were rowing at our best. The next 1000m passed like a flash, each stroke coming strong and together and gradually I could feel the boats on the outside lanes drop back. I was dimly aware that in a six boat final this put us at least in fourth place. Although in real time it took us nearly three and a half minutes, before I knew it we were coming up to the last 500m. With about 40 strokes to go my legs and lungs were screaming and my ability to see was diminishing. ‘The blackness’ I thought, referring to a state that the coaches had encouraged us to push ourselves to, ‘I’ll come through the other side’. After ten more strokes I acknowledged ‘there is no other side’ and I just counted one stroke after another; body on auto pilot, mind refusing to give up, desperate for the finish line.

It took me some minutes to recover enough to take in what Elise and I had achieved. We had come third and won an Olympic medal, something I had dreamed of for a long as I could remember. It was incredible to row over to the medal rostrum and receive our medals in front of a hugely supportive crowd, my family and friends.

The Olympics was incredibly special. However, happily the story doesn’t end there. This year I raced in the quad at the World Championships in Gifu, Japan. We had an amazing race with the Germans, and came out on top by just 0.3 of a second to win and become World Champions.

As far as I’m concerned the future looks bright.
The regulations controlling the annual award of “Old Millfieldian of the Year” has as one of its three qualifying categories: “outstanding and distinctive contribution to the Millfield Society…” That Wyndham Bailey received the award this year is entirely appropriate.

Wyndham first went to Millfield in September 1938, when there were only 20 pupils at the school, to work towards Common Entrance, which he passed the following year. He had enjoyed his time so much, as well as his success, that he persuaded all those concerned that he should continue his education under the aegis of R.J.O.M., the next hurdle being School Certificate. For him, the summer of 1943 was particularly notable for his creditable results in the examination and his being asked if he would be prepared to sleep in a tent to make room in the house for a new junior.

Taking this as a compliment to his loyalty and reliability, and because it sounded like fun and yet more freedom, he agreed and moved his belongings into a canvas dormitory pitched on a grassy area to the west of the main house.

Wyndham’s subsequent career may have been a little more prosaic but it has been of inestimable value to Millfield. He was promoted to the position of Head Boy the following term and remained as such until he left the school in July, 1945, just prior to his call-up for National Service, part of which included working to assist in the evacuation of Palestine.

Three years later, military training and duties completed, he returned, along with half-a-dozen other men in a similar position, to improve his examination awards in order to apply for entrance to university. All were absorbed into the Millfield ménage without difficulty but Wyndham, being “special”, had to take on extra responsibilities and was made Head of the delightfully-ill-named “Resteholme” house in Glastonbury.

His efforts resulted in him going to Exeter University graduating with a degree in Zoology in 1952. Wyndham then, with his wife Elizabeth, joined the teaching staff in 1953, operating on frogs and dog fish for the next 10 years in the Biology Nissen Huts.



When the Old Millfieldian organisation, the Millfield Society, was properly constituted in 1959, Wyndham was elected to the first committee. In 1962 he was elected President for the year, an office which has since been abandoned, and in 1967 assumed the role of Honorary Treasurer, an office he was to hold for the next 30 years. But this was not quite enough for, in 1991, he took the helm also, as Chairman, and steered the Society ship through very exciting waters for the next 4 years, culminating in the adoption of a revised constitution of which he was an architect. To illustrate his loyalty to the Old Millfieldian cause, at the time of writing (September 2005) Wyndham continues to serve as Treasurer.

Millfield links continued with his family. He and Elizabeth have been married for 53 years and their three daughters all went to Millfield as have two grandchildren. Lucy Bailey (1973-78; Day) was the first winner of the Old Millfieldian of the Year Award in 2000, for her outstanding directorial role in the production of Tennessee Williams’ “Baby Doll”, which received raved reviews.

Wyndham’s life has not been entirely Millfield. For 24 years he was Personnel Manager of Clarks Shoes, a prestigious position, where he was deeply involved in difficult days of industrial relations as well as the move to overseas resourcing and the subsequent shut down of United Kingdom manufacturing.

{With thanks to Barry Hobson; much text was taken from his draft book on the history of Millfield}.
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