BIRTH OF AN IDEOLOGY
Miss H. S. Oliphant
Everything begins with a dream.
In 1957, an ageing English lady, Miss H. S. Oliphant, fired by the desire to create an equal educational platform for young Indian women in independent India, acquired a Nawab’s estate in Dehradun to give shape to her dream. There were no funds, no staff, no school buildings and no students save a vision and an indomitable spirit. She entrusted the task of setting up and running a boarding school for girls to Miss Grace Mary Linnell, an experienced and respected educationist who headed a girls’ school and college in Hyderabad. Under Miss Linnell’s guidance, ‘Welham’, named after a Welsh village, bloomed and expanded and soon grew synonymous with high scholastic standards and a progressive attitude, yet rooted in Indian tradition and culture.
The Welham community has grown from a mere ten students at its inception in 1957 to its current strength of 540 students. The alumnae of the school have carved a niche for themselves globally and within India, yet the spirit to ‘give and not count the cost’ remains unchanged.
Welham lives by its motto - “artha shanti phala vidya” (the aim of education is to bring peace) – and students who attend Welham are united by a deep commitment of one to another and of each to the whole. Integrity and civility, as well as being empathetic and humane, remain steadfast ideals at Welham. The School fosters inclusion and inspires students to understand their strengths and capabilities.
Miss Grace Mary Linnell
Miss Linnell was succeeded 14 years later by Miss Saroj Srivastava, who headed the school for 18 years. In 1988, Mrs. Shanti Varma took over the reins and handed over the charge in 2000 to Mrs. Jyotsna Brar. After 16 years of service, Mrs. Brar passed the baton to Mrs. Padmini Sambasivamin 2016. This strong sense of continuity in its leadership has helped the school to uphold the value systems so deeply entrenched in the foundation, while making strides forward in a rapidly changing world.
THE WIND BENEATH OUR WINGS
"Excerpts from Ms Saroj Srivastava’s tribute"
Welham started in 1957 when she (Ms Linnell) herself was 57 years of age. Knowing she would not have a very long tenure, she doubled the pace of her work from the first day and took on challenges, which to any other would be insurmountable. To be asked to start a residential school for girls on the lines of a public school with just Rs. 10,000 and two separate rented houses was to ask for the impossible. Miss Linnell, however, was undaunted and worked with superhuman energy to create within a very short period an outstanding girls’ residential school in the country. In her, we saw the selfless worker that the Bhagwad Gita talks about. She worked hard day and night with never an eye on what she should gain.
She was a brilliant teacher, and despite her life-long experience, she never went to a class without preparing for it. Her real forte was human relationships. She somehow managed to have a one-to-one contact with every girl, every teacher or every Class IV employee, and was always there for help and guide. To her, brilliant academic results were not the be-all of the school. Instilling values in girls and setting the finest example herself, she moulded the character of the girls by giving importance to honesty, straightforwardness and sincerity in work. Teachers and girls alike had much to learn from her. Her consideration for others at all times touched all who came in contact with her. She taught us the joy of working with and for others.