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Celebrating Achievement

Thursday, 26 June 2014

A packed Great Hall at Bolton School Boys’ Division saw students collect over 100 awards at Prizegiving, celebrating their academic and extra-curricular achievements over the course of the year.  The prizes were handed out by former Captain and Old Boy of the School The Venerable Jonathan Boardman, Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, Chaplain of All Saints, Rome and a Canon of Malta Cathedral. 

Chairman of Governors, Mr Michael Griffiths, opened the evening by offering congratulations to the boys, who he said had excelled in a school of high achievers. He also paid tribute to the talented teaching staff who are led by an outstanding Headmaster and to the parents who give their domestic and emotional support.  With the 100 and 500 year celebrations around the corner, Mr Griffiths referenced the history of the School and how 100 years ago William Hesketh Lever had wanted the newly formed Bolton School Foundation to offer “quality, accessibility and autonomy”.  Mr Griffiths was confident the School offered this and highlighted the recent opening of the £7m Riley Sixth Form Centre and the issuing of iPads to all pupils.  He thanked the benefactors of the School, who this year alone had given £750,000 towards bursaries, allowing access to the School to those families that otherwise could not afford it.  One in five of Senior School pupils receive assistance with their fees.  He also praised the Governing Body for their wise counsel and hard work. 

He closed by reminding the boys that they should “keep the values you have learnt here, they are precious.  Go out into the world, have lots of fun and try to make a difference to the world so that each place you leave is that little bit better than when you arrived.” 

The Venerable Jonathan Boardman was delighted to be back at his old school.  He reflected on his own time at the School and how the Great Hall had always been his favourite room in school.  He had been an academic student and had felt very proud to go to such an historic school.  He told the audience that whilst Cardinal Newman had said: “To live is to change” it was good to see that some things don’t change, referencing the School’s pursuit of building strong individual characters and academic success. He felt that schools are the place where foundations are laid and characters formed and that whilst pupils will cherish the memory of their teachers they will also learn from their fellow students.  When he left in 1982, he was further educated at Oxford, Cambridge and the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and ordained in Liverpool where he served his curacy.  He closed by saying: “Remember the saying that ‘those that live well, live twice’.  It has been my enormous pleasure to distribute prizes.” 

Philip Britton, Headmaster, gave an insightful and thought-provoking address, which not only offered a snapshot of the cornucopia of activities that boys are involved in over the course of the year – outstanding academic success supplemented by a wide range of extra-curricular activity – but also reflected on the importance of independent education.  The School was not reliant on parents being able to afford a property within its catchment area; its bursary fund allowing pupils to be selected purely on academic ability.  He offered a strong rebuttal of  proposed Ofsted inspections of independent schools, not because independent schools had anything to hide but more because Gove and Wilshaw’s understanding of education did not chime with his own. 

Mr Britton was delighted that the introduction of iPads over the course of the year had gone so well, offering boys another tool for learning in the classroom and ensuring they are well equipped for life beyond school.  Beyond the excellent GCSE and A level results, boys had developed their characters in other endeavours, including through the Debating and Literary Society, the Ainsworth Societies and through Model UN events, where they had excelled.  There had been much to celebrate creatively, artistically and musically. In Music, there was mass participation, work in the community and virtuoso soloists and ensembles; the Jazz Band will once again play at the Montreux Jazz Festival in a few weeks’ time.  This year’s innovative joint production of Romeo and Juliet had broken new ground with its exceptional soundtrack and slick graphics.  The School was looking forward to seeing a pop-up Art exhibition in the town’s Market Place; Quadrangle Radio, set up and run by the boys, had offered hours of entertainment; the School had entered the Space Race sending a rocket up to 103,000 feet; the Charities Committee had raised thousands of pounds and there had been much work in the local community which had seen boys receiving vInspired and Duke of Edinburgh Awards. 

As ever, the School had undertaken a staggering range of trips and visits, many abroad.  The Saundersfoot Camp was first initiated in the 1940s and still runs today, this year’s trip departing shortly.  Mr Britton spoke of the many language exchanges and welcomed those German pupils in the audience.  He also welcomed the 30,000 bees that have recently been introduced to the School and had provided boys with a unique learning experience.  As ever, there had been much success in sport.  The U14, U16 and U18 water-polo teams had all been national champions, the swimming teams won all their galas over the past few years, in football Luke Eccles had represented the ISFA national team on international tour and the Junior Boys had recorded a victory in the national Kids’ Cup at Wembley, there had been mass participation and victories in Plate competitions at rugby, boys had won national, regional and county T20 finals at cricket and boys had won the U14 Lancashire Plate at tennis. 

With 2015 heralding the 100 year celebration of the Bolton School Foundation, the Headmaster took the opportunity to look back and referenced a speech given by Headmaster Lipscomb in 1921 who professed that the School was about “courage, determination and strenuous endeavour”.  He felt the same speech could be made today.  Referencing the Boys’ Division motto: Mutare Vel Timere Sperno,he reinterpreted it for today’s audience as “courage and conviction”. 

Mr Britton lauded the high calibre of his teaching colleagues and their efforts beyond the classroom, commenting that teaching truly is a vocation and not just a job.  He gave thanks to those teachers that would be moving on, reserving special commendation to Mr Stephen Martin, Director of Music since 1999, who was moving to Sherborne School Qatar to take up a Deputy Headship and for Dr David Rogers, a Chemistry teacher who had undertaken many roles within school, who is retiring after 33 years’ service to the school.  Addressing staff, pupils and parents, Mr Britton closed by saying: “Thank you for all you have done for this School and all you will do for it in the future as it continues to thrive.” 

The evening concluded with a rousing rendition of William Blake’s Jerusalem.  Thanks are also due to Year 12 student Andrew Clelland who played the organ during the evening and to Matthew Hotham (saxophone), Arran Ireland (guitar), Daniel Sharif (voice, bass) and Ian Winstanley (trumpet) who punctuated the evening with musical interludes and also to Paul Greenhalgh who, as Captain of the School, offered a Vote of Thanks to The Venerable Boardman.  Festivities continued with drinks and canapes in the School’s Arts Centre and on the Headmaster’s Lawn.

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Sixth Form boys ahead of the 2014 Prizegiving

Sixth Form boys ahead of the 2014 Prizegiving

The Venerable Jonathan Boardman

The Venerable Jonathan Boardman gave an absorbing and amusing speech

Captain Paul Greenhalgh gave a Vote of Thanks to The Venerable Boardman