It’s a very close knit community
“My parents came to RAF Benson in 2001 and I was born in 2002 at the John Radcliffe Hospital. We lived on the base and I went to Ewelme Primary School. Then when I was nine, we moved to Watlington, and I started at the primary school here at the end of year 4. My first memory of Watlington is just before we moved here. We went to the rec and I went on my scooter in the skate bowl. I’ve always thought of it as the best park.
At break on my first day at school here, all the boys had a running race and I came third. From that day on I blended right in. We are a very close knit group and I am still friends with the same people. Even those who went to different secondary schools, we still all see each other as we only live a few doors away. That’s also what I like about Watlington, because even if they live the other side of Watlington it is still only a 2 or 3 minute walk away.
I chose Icknield Community College as it is the closest school, just 5 minutes walk, and all my friends were going. My first day I rocked up, I’d heard a few scary stories but it wasn’t like that at all. The support you get in year 7 has set me up ever since.
Last year I was one of the reading buddies for some of the Year 7s who need a bit of extra help. It is a really great programme, all of the children involved went up two levels in their reading. Recently, I have also been a buddy for some of the children starting at Icknield next year. We have been going to Watlington Primary School every Wednesday to do team building exercises and get to know them. I think being part of a close knit community gives them the extra confidence they seem to have as a group.
I’ve just become Deputy Head Boy and Sports Captain for my House. I’ve played in numerous sports – rugby, cricket, soft ball, triathlon, athletics, tennis – all the way through school. The School really encourages you to enter all these tournaments. Rugby is my main thing. I play at Wallingford Rugby Club as well as for Icknield. This year the Icknield team won the Sibford Sevens tournament – it was the first time a state school has won it. We played Magdalen college school in the final, a school that plays rugby every day, so it was a really great achievement, especially for such a small school as Icknield. I think it was down to having such a good team spirit, the fact that a lot of us also play for Wallingford, and our strong ethos. In the future I would love to be a professional rugby player. I played at WASPS for a season and I play at County level.
Academically I have learnt a lot as well. We just did a G.C.S.E in R.E. a year early, which I think is good preparation for next year. I feel that I am in good hands in the school and I will do the best I can do. At Icknield you get taught at beyond G.C.S.E. level. For example, I went on a school trip to Oxford University and we had three maths lectures. It was a great experience. Because of the maths lessons at school we could understand it and it has given me the thought in my mind that I could do further maths. I’d like to do maths because I think maths is one of the most usable things in the modern world. The maths staff at Icknield are really good and have helped me grow as a mathematician. It’s really set me up for later life.
Another thing I like about Watlington is the countryside round here. The Ridgeway is so accessible, and it is just five minutes up into the hills. I like going mountain biking with my friends.
I’ve been working at the Undercroft for a year and a half, two days a week, selling vegetables. It’s all locally sourced from places like Pyrton, Lewknor, and Benson. About half the town come in on a Saturday to buy their fruit and veg. It’s been nice as I have got to know some of the older members of the community who I didn’t really know before. Now I say hello to them when I see them out and about which is really nice.”
Watlington Folk is a documentary project by photographer Nicola Schafer. Watlington is blessed with pretty buildings and beautiful countryside, however it is the people who live here that truly make the place. This project aims to capture that through a series of portraits of the people who live here together with their “Watlington Story”. For more information, please contact Nicola through her website http://www.nicolaschafer.co.uk