Romero Belongs

Cardinal Wiseman provided the perfect setting for the recent training day – Romero Belongs – for staff and governors in The Romero Catholic MAC.

Nelson Mandela’s bodyguard Chris Lubbe joined Floyd Steadman, who was the first black captain of a Premiership rugby club, to inspire attendees with their stories of life against the odds.

Lubbe, who grew up in apartheid South Africa and later served Mandela for nine years as he ushered in an era of reconciliation during the 1990s, spoke to a 500-strong crowd from across the Romero Catholic MAC.

The training day saw the launch of the Romero Catholic MAC People Strategy, putting staff wellbeing, training and enrichment at the heart of the organisation, which includes eight schools.

To exemplify this further, the day included 16 workshops for members to choose from, ranging from sustainability, trauma-informed practice, to Makaton and Virtual Reality. These workshops came as a result of feedback from staff.

Lubbe spoke of his journey from a young peaceful protester who experienced first-hand the racial violence and oppression of South African society, through to meeting the likes of Desmond Tutu, Fidel Castro and Queen Elizabeth as part of his official duties, and how the great man encouraged him to share his life story to carry on his message of peace.

Floyd Steadman OBE, the author of best-selling autobiography ‘A Week One Summer’, also recalled his eye-opening journey from growing up in care and challenging racial stereotypes in the 1970s and 80s before captaining Saracens at 23 and later embarking on a career in education.

The former scrum-half, who worked as a teacher in the years before rugby league became a professional sport, later became headmaster at a number of prep schools and even encouraged a young Maro Itoje to take his first steps as a rugby player.

He was awarded Freeman of the City of London status in 2023, before receiving an OBE for services to rugby, education and charity – returning to Buckingham Palace the next day for the 75th anniversary celebration of the start of the Windrush generation.

Helen Quinn, CEO of the Romero Catholic MAC, said: “It was incredible to hear from two hugely inspiring individuals on the challenges they have faced in their lives and how they responded to make the world a better place. There were so many lessons for us, not just as educators but as people, to take away from their talks on a day that was centred around the theme of belonging.

“The day also marked the launch of our People Strategy. We know that if we want our pupils and young people to receive the very best in their experience of school life, then we have to ensure we recruit, retain and invest in our staff to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be.” Alex Thomas, Head of HR at the Romero Catholic MAC, said: “Today we celebrated staff who have been with us for 25 years and other colleagues who are retiring. It’s so important that we continue to create a place of work where people have the opportunity to develop, progress and do what they love with our full support over many years.”