Day in the life - Julie Burns

16th January 2009 at 00:00

I arrive when the boys are getting ready for breakfast. One of them wants me to sew on a button, another needs his sport kit washed. He should really have put it in the laundry yesterday, but I help him out. Life at boarding school is busy and it's easy to forget things.

There are 59 boys in the house, aged 13 to 18, and 47 of them are boarders. I try to be a mother to them while they're away from home and make sure they're happy and comfortable.

After breakfast, I sort the laundry, checking every item has a name tag before it goes in the wash. Then I take a look at the fridges in the "brew rooms", where the boys make their snacks. There's some bacon lying about, which should be wrapped. I put it in a bag and leave a note.

During break, I talk to my two cleaners and we swap news, as women like to do. Apparently, one boy's room is a real mess, with clothes all over the place. I don't mind a bit of untidiness but this is too much, so I send a note to Dr Boscher, our housemaster.

Later on, the power goes off on the first floor so I call the electrician. It turns out that one of the boys has melted butter in the toaster. Then a parent rings to check that their son is taking vitamins. I assure them he is, and tell them not to worry.

At lunchtime, I'm in my room and boys drop by for a chat. One of them has lost his tie, so I find a spare. The boys are always losing things - books, ties, even shoes. The afternoon is quieter. I do some mending and paperwork and catch up on emails. Then I water Dr Boscher's geraniums because he tends to forget.

I've been matron here for seven years, and love every minute. It's a privilege to see the boys grow up, from cheeky children to responsible young men. And people never take me for granted. At the end of every term Dr Boscher buys me champagne, which is lovely.

Julie Burns is matron at Talbot House in Wellington College, Berkshire.

She was talking to Steven Hastings.

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