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Staff blog: Darren Maylam's first week at Pestalozzi

6 May 2013

Darren Maylam is Pestalozzi’s newest team member, having started with our fundraising department last Monday. Here he gives the lowdown on his first week – the joy, the tears and the surprise attack on the journey to work. Will he survive? Will he thrive? Read on to find out . . .


Whether it’s the vibrant green spring colours, the fresh smell of the local countryside or the sound of students enjoying themselves with summery games of football, there is no doubt that Pestalozzi is a very peaceful place to be. . .

Darren cutting the ladybird cakeAnd then there is the office! The secret lair, a place full of busyness, pressing deadlines and toil. I make it sound like a Tolkienesque Orc cave, but none of my new colleagues bear any resemblance to Orcs, Goblins or any other grotesque mythical creatures. And I say "secret lair” but to be honest it’s pretty well signposted, bright and clean. After meeting the busy team, a quick walk around the beautiful grounds with my colleagues and a slice of cake (decorated to look like the Pestalozzi ladybird!) makes me feel warmly welcomed and ready to get stuck in with life at Pestalozzi. Settling down at my new desk it feels like I’ve arrived.

Suddenly a celebratory shout is heard from the corridor: something has been found! What could cause this much excitement? I keep my ears focussed on the conversation, trying not to look too nosy on my first day. Like a cold war double agent peering over his desk, I listen for the nugget of information that could be the exciting finale to a blog post – if I ever try my hand at writing one.

Finally, I catch on and it all makes sense: what was lost has been found, the prodigal had returned, the emotional father holds his beloved again. The office stands in wait, filled with awe, hairs standing up on the back of necks, tears in eyes.

A colleague bursts through the door. "I’ve found my red cup!”


It dawns on me that perhaps I should have left you hanging yesterday – would you have paid to hear the finale of the red cup story?! I keep that in mind for future fundraising projects.

Tuesday starts off with research calls to another country. It’s much harder to talk to another human being over the phone than face to face. You wait for the rhythmic ringing to stop, like a mechanical heartbeat in an operating theatre – and then, even with the script right in front of you, there is that split second when you think, "Ahh! What am I doing?” The words seem to get stuck somehow . . . But everything is OK. You remember the person on the other end isn’t there to hurt you – you’re just asking a few questions!


Darren gets to work at his deskThe research continues with all sorts of responses to my simple questions, ranging from very helpful to . . . well, very not helpful. Such is life.

Looking into the history of Pestalozzi and meeting some of the students revives my eagerness to focus and persist with what I’m doing. I begin to realise that any one of my seemingly insignificant actions – whether a phone call, email or conversation – could help make a truly remarkable and life changing difference in the lives of the students. A donation, a gift of time or resources, gives the gift of hope, helping to inspire these young people to make a difference in the world that we live in.


The promise of a big cup of tea and homemade cake will warm anyone’s heart – especially when it’s served behind someone’s normally-closed doors. I head down to Sedlescombe for the village coffee morning with one of my colleagues to hand out our latest Newsletter and learn more about the village. I meet with lots of very pleasant locals, exchanging information with people from all different walks of life. I personally gain a whole Victoria sponge, a branch of bay leaves, a cup of tea and two very nice dark chocolate digestive biscuits. The morning is a success.

My afternoon is spent researching trusts and meeting with team members from all over the Pestalozzi estate. This is a brilliant way to help give me a bigger picture of all the behind-the-scenes work that keeps everything running smoothly for our amazing students.


I’m on the way to work. The sun is beaming down its rays of golden loveliness, car windows wide open, music blaring out from one of my favourite folky bands. The melody lifts into a beautiful crescendo, wind in my hair, trying to look a bit cool in my shades, my confidence at an all-time high – I’m not even using my satnav for the straightforward 15 minute journey from my house to work!

Then, suddenly, the lorry two cars ahead launches some kind of transparent force field through the air. Please don’t hit me.

The force field attack misses the first car, then swoops down. The car in front of me looks like a tiny lion cub on its last legs, separated from its family, caught in the heat of the Sahara, with a mean eyed vulture circling round it. Please don’t hit me.

The car ahead only just evades the lorry’s attack. I see now that the force field is actually a massive piece of plastic wrap dislodged from the lorry’s cargo. Please don’t hit me. It twists violently in the blue sky before tumbling down towards my windscreen. Please don’t hit me.

I can’t help but feel like this is the end. I will never finish my blog. Please don’t hit me. It would be my first and last four days at Pestalozzi . . .

Will Darren survive? Will Pestalozzi need to recruit a new Fundraiser? To find out, please send a minimum donation of £5 to Pestalozzi Fundraising Department, Ladybird Lane, Sedlescombe, East Sussex, TN33 0UF.

Did that work? No?

The plastic wrap does exactly what it is meant to do. Wrap. It’s a blessing that the part of my car it decides to wrap round is the left wing mirror and not the windscreen. I cruise down the road with my new addition failing in the wind like some kind of wild jubilee bunting. I pull over in the entrance of the local golf course to remove the offending item.

Finally, I arrive at the peaceful grounds at Pestalozzi, birds chirping and bees gently buzzing. Students are at college sitting IB exams, or at Pestalozzi revising in the meeting rooms or in the sun. The office is a flurry of activity ahead of a bank holiday weekend. I look forward to what the day will hold.

All joking aside, Pestalozzi is a charity and does rely on the generosity of individuals, groups, businesses, trusts and foundations in order to continue our important work. There are lots of ways you can get involved – read more here!

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Inspiring young people to make a difference in the world.