Mark Ellison - 1975
Thank you for your invitation to share our memories of Malsis. The closing of the school is a very sad development indeed. I have always thought of Malsis under Mr. Clark as one of the finest Prep Schools in England, and no matter what schools and Universities I have been to since, that view has never changed.
I did hope that somehow Malsis could be re-opened as the great educational institution it always was. We still feel so proud of the Prep School we went to.
I first went to Malsis in the autumn of 1975, and to be quite frank it was one heck of a culture shock. My family lived close by just a few miles above the next village Cowling. I was eleven years old and had just finished at Cowling Primary School. Two years earlier my middle sister had gone to the local comprehensive in Cross Hills, and let's just say her experience there highly motivated my parents to send me to Malsis instead. Cowling Primary School and Malsis were worlds apart, and my knowledge was a long way behind in many subjects. Just a few weeks into my first term I was kindly told by a class mate that I would never do well in academics at Malsis. For the next couple of weeks I felt very home sick. It was during that time that I saw a form on the notice board on which we could sign up to run in the Embsay Crag Race just outside Skipton. I had come second in the race around the field on Sports Day at Cowling Primary, and I had sometimes gone for runs around my Father's farm, and it felt like something I might do quite well at.
The day of the race came, and many Malsis boys got into Masters’ cars and off we went to the other side of Skipton.Fell races in the Yorkshire Dales had two age groups... the Seniors over 17 years old and the Juniors who were 17 and below. On that pleasant Sunday morning a lot of Malsis boys lined up outside The Elm Tree Inn in Embsay along with many other much older boys right up to 17 years of age. The starting gun fired and I remember running up the road from the pub, and being in a group near the front with a Malsis boy who was a year older than me call John Cumming. The leaders began to draw away from the pack, and I followed them around the course as best I could without any further encounters with Malsis boys.
At the finish line I came in fifth ahead of all the other Malsis boys. We returned to Malsis and in very short time my original reputation of being a late-coming new boy from a rough primary school who was ok at 3rds rugby was being rapidly replaced by a new reputation as the best long distance runner in the school. In a sport-crazy school like Malsis my status had gone from low to very high in one morning.
I would like to thank Mr. David Manville for arranging that race. Without question it changed my life and it was the start of a very rewarding involvement with long distance running. Later that term, despite being a year under age, I came third in the Northern Preparatory Schools Cross Country Championship held at St. Mary's Prep School at Stoneyhurst. A year later I had the good fortune to win the Northern Preparatory Schools Cross Country Championship held in Lytham St. Annes, at a prep school I think has also closed down.
I never managed to get on the first fifteen for rugby at Malsis, but I did open the batting for the first eleven in Cricket in my final term. Before I left I set two school records... the 1500 meters in 5 minutes and 4 seconds on Sports Day, and the Yorkshire 3 Peaks in 6 hours and 2 minutes.
One of my fondest memories from my final summer term was of Coates House under Mr. English winning the House Competition for the first time in years - if not decades. In those days Lund House under Mr. Moore would win term after term, until finally - with a great academic and sporting performance from many excellent Coates boys - our House won. In our final lovely summer term it was a real joy to have done it at last!
Two years at Malsis provided a brilliant and indispensable foundation for my subsequent 5 years at Sedbergh. Thanks to the passion for running instilled at Malsis, I went on to win the Sedbergh Ten Mile twice, got a scholarship to the United States, and followed that with 3 years at Sheffield University. Since then, as a professional psychologist in private practice, my life has become a little more sedentary…
Life was not always easy at Malsis. There was ‘one-heck-of-a-lot of peer pressure, but I truly believe the start in life it gave a young boy was second to none. I can hardly begin to imagine my life without the excellent all-round education which was provided for me by Malsis.
To round off this letter, I would like to thank all the Masters, Staff, and Pupils... and especially Mr. Clark the Headmaster, who encouraged me to apply for a place at Sedbergh, Mr. English my House Master, and Mr. Rose for his patience in helping me to catch up in Maths.
Malsis was a great school and it gave us a tremendous start in life.