St Albans teenager wows Oxford University conference

PUBLISHED: 14:16 31 August 2011

Harrie Bamford-Lyons gives speech to 16th Patristic Conference in Oxford.

Harrie Bamford-Lyons gives speech to 16th Patristic Conference in Oxford.

IMPRESSING Oxford dons is no easy feat but a teenager from St Albans has done just that and given a paper at a major conference this summer.

Harrie Bamford-Lyons, of Upper Culver Road, is just 16 years old and earlier this month he attended a prestigious conference at Oxford University.

The 16th Patristic Conference, at which the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams was the keynote speaker, welcomed Harrie as its youngest ever person to give a paper.

Harrie presented his paper, entitled Nostalgia for Heaven: Clement’s use of the Odyssey in Book 12 of Exhortation to the Greeks, and then took part in a lively debate about its contents.

And the teenager, who is home-schooled, says that despite the nerves, he enjoyed the opportunity to demonstrate his knowledge of Patristic Theology. Harrie said: “I was very nervous when I began reading from my paper and to begin with I spoke very quietly but as it went on I felt better about it. The questions at the end went a lot better and I was pleased with the responses I gave.”

An esteemed professor from Harvard chaired the subsequent debate that followed Harrie’s paper and his proud mum, Jan Bamford, said that despite standing before eminent world-class academics, her son performed brilliantly.

She said: “He was standing before people who definitely know the subject and he dealt with it with confidence and ease. He answered their questions, which were quite heavy-going and certainly not easy, and his answers demonstrated the depth of his knowledge and understanding.”

For Jan, Harrie’s performance is also a sign that they made the right decision when they chose home-schooling because it’s allowed her son to choose a path of study suited to his interests. “Studying at home, with my brothers Dr Nicholas Bamford and Babadanji, has given him opportunities that he would not have had in an ordinary school life.”

Harrie has just completed his A2 in Classical Greek and completed his first IGCSEs when he was 12. The abstract for the paper he gave in Oxford was actually written when he was 15. The teen, who is fluent in several languages, is now considering other A-levels he might want to do and says he plans to write a few more papers too.

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