Anorak News | Missing 15-year-old who yearned for adventure grassed up to police

Missing 15-year-old who yearned for adventure grassed up to police

by | 16th, November 2016

Are you old enough at 15 to to go into the world and forge a life on our own? Two months ago, on September 6, Arthur Heeler-Frood, 15, declared himself  “bored with life” and left his family home in Axminster, Devon. Clutching a raft of top GCSE grades and £350 the young scholar struck out.


arthur runs away school devon


He’s a thoughtful young chap, writing a note to his parents, assuring them that he’d back within a year.

To Mum and Dad,

I have run away because I am bored of my life. Please don’t try to find me or make me come home.
I don’t know how long I will be away for but it won’t be longer than a year. You will find my school uniform in a bin bag in a small barn in the field on the green, down the road near Membury Church.

My bike is chained to the fence and there is a spare key to the lock on the window. Please apologise to the restaurant and tell them that I will no longer be able to work there.
I know you will be upset but understand that I have to do this,

From Arthur.

After two months on the lam, Arthur is now back home. Someone spotted him ten miles (Times) / nine miles (Guardian) from the family residence, told police and they picked him up at Honiton railway station in Devon at about 4.30pm.

Mrs Heeler-Frood tells the Guardian of her son: “We’ve just got home with him and want a little bit of time to talk to him. He was coming home. He is fine and well.”

Oddly the Guardian begins its story by stating, “A grammar school boy missing for two months…” Does his passing entrance exams to a selective school make him seem more or less capable of surviving and thriving on his own? Are we to read that grammar school pupils can be just as selfish and thick as their comprehensive school educated peers?

The paper then adds:

Arthur’s frantic parents, Caroline and Jeremy Heeler-Frood, had wondered if he had sneaked abroad, possibly inspired by George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, which he had just been reading.

You see where reading gets you? Yeah, Honiton. (And isn’t it good data-led academics to escape university safe spaces and get out more. Brexit and Trump taught us they should, right.)

Of course, there are other books to inspire travel. Jim Hawkins was 12 or 13 when he was inspired to board a boat:

I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow—a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man, his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulder of his soiled blue coat, his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails, and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white. I remember him looking round the cover and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterwards:

“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest—
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

You make your own stories.

So, is 15 too young to leave school and kick out for adventure and work? On 1 September 1972, the school leaving age was raised from 15 to 16. It was all right for many then, but now they want you in full-time study til your 18 at least.

The Education and Skills Act 2008 increased the minimum age at which young people in England can leave learning. This requires them to continue in education or training to the age of 17 from 2013 and to 18 from 2015. Young people will be able to choose whether to stay in full-time education, undertake work-based learning such as an Apprenticeship, or part-time education or training if they are employed, self-employed or volunteering for more than 20 hours per week.

Is that an improvement or a constraint? Is all this education creating a bubble?

Over to you, Jim Lad:

What a supper I had of it that night, with all my friends around me; and what a meal it was, with Ben Gunn’s salted goat and some delicacies and a bottle of old wine from the Hispaniola. Never, I am sure, were people gayer or happier. And there was Silver, sitting back almost out of the firelight, but eating heartily, prompt to spring forward when anything was wanted, even joining quietly in our laughter—the same bland, polite, obsequious seaman of the voyage out.



Posted: 16th, November 2016 | In: Key Posts, Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink