Frank Helbig

Dear Rick,

I wanted to write a few lines about the training you offered and I have now received.

The first thing that came to my mind was a little teaching which is given in the context of Buddhism in advance of empowerments and advices to show how rare and precious the main teaching is: the teaching of the “Five Perfect Circumstances”.

These five perfect circumstances are the perfect time, the perfect place, the perfect teaching, the perfect teacher and the perfect student.

The perfect time: every time in year has it’s advantages and disadvantages and a Butler has to deal with all of them, so at which time of year one attends one of your courses is not important. More important is if one attends your 4- or 2-weeks-course or has a few bespoke days with you. This decision depends on the student and the fellow students together as a group; the teachings in both courses are the same, only time for practice is less. I was fortunate being one in a group of two and my fellow student was as interested as I was so the 2-weeks-course was the perfect time for both of us. And as you taught: “A Butler is never late, always on time!”

The perfect place: without any doubt Ditchley is the perfect place. It has got its perfection naturally over time and was not built as a training facility for Butlers, so it is perfect by itself, inspired by all his owners, staff members and guests since it was built.

Even today the actual staff is supporting your courses and students when needed; as a student one feels always welcomed and part of it.

The kind care you, Liz and the friendly staff from Ditchley provide over the day, Richard proceeds with his perfect place, accommodation and breakfast when not being under the roof of Ditchley.

The perfect teaching: today many other schools spread that there is no thing like a “British Butler”, but this is not true; to discuss how others use “British” for marketing and being far away from the meaning is not what a Butler should discuss. Sure, private staff has served their employers in many countries over the last centuries, but there is a specific style to do things, to behave and to deal with different circumstances, which is “British” and this is what you teach and especially the style you teach. These things are timeless and done in a graceful way, not by shouting, in a way which can be named “old-fashioned”, but far away from being out of date. In addition to that, new techniques and technologies were always integrated to keep the teachings up to date.

The perfect teacher: In his “Dinner is served” Arthur Inch complains that with him passing, most of the “science of private” service will get lost, but in this single case he isn’t right: you are without any doubt from the same format, a “storehouse of knowledge” and a real “treasure trove of experience”. Combined with your practical example how a Butler is, works, behaves and reacts, you are the perfect teacher. It is rare to learn so much in such a relaxed way.

The perfect student: this is something you should decide. I don’t know if I was a perfect student, but I did my best to follow your instructions and take in all the provided information, digest it and put it into practice.

All in all, attending one of your courses was one of the best decisions I have made till today and you have showed us by teaching and behaving that the “British” tradition of private service is as alive today as it can be. I wish you as much health as possible so that as many students as possible can participate at your storehouse of knowledge and your treasure trove of experience as I called it above.

Your student,
Frank Helbig