Congratulations and Advice at Prizegiving
Thursday, 28 June 2018
This year was “the hottest Prizegiving on record”, according to the Headmaster’s welcome. With the summer sunshine streaming in through the windows, the prizes were presented and address given by Old Boy Mr Stuart Brooks CMG (1956-1966), who spent thirty-two years with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before moving to work at Chevron, where he is now entering his eighteenth year. The assembled audience also enjoyed further reviews of the school year from Chair of Governors Mr Michel Griffiths and Headmaster Mr Philip Britton, interspersed with musical accompaniment from pupils.
For the first time since 1966, the School song ‘Forty Years On’ was part of the Prizegiving programme. Mr Britton remarked that 1966 coincidentally was also the year Mr Brooks was last at Prizegiving and also the last time England won the World Cup, so suggested that singing it again might perhaps bring footballing luck!
In his address, Mr Griffiths welcomed Mr Brooks, congratulated the prize winners and thanked staff and parents for their support. He went on to speak about the importance of links with Old Boys and the Governors’ continued vision for the school as an integrated part of the community, capable of overcoming the issues of affordability and accessibility through the Bursary fund. He also mentioned the Whole School Community Initiative of the Year Award which the School received at the TES Independent School Awards. He ended by wishing those who are leaving School this summer good luck, and advising them to follow their instincts, make a difference for good and have fun.
Prizegiving this year introduced two new prizes: the Ralf Little Prize and the Dobson Prize, both named after Old Boys. The Ralf Little Prize, which is awarded to acknowledge an exceptional contribution to the School’s extracurricular Arts output, was received by Mohammad Master in Year 13. The Dobson Prize is given to the most promising student of Technology in Year 13 and aims to encourage pupils in their study of Engineering; it was awarded to Alexander Young.
Mr Brooks gave a thoughtful address filled with nuggets of good advice. He first of all reminded pupils that the evening’s prize-winners may not be the ones invited back in future years: he himself did not receive a monitor’s badge! He then spoke about things that have changed for the better since his schooldays, such as the introduction of the NHS and dramatic shifts in ethics, law and attitudes towards racism and social mobility. He briefly recounted his thirty-year career with the Foreign Office, particularly mentioning his work in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles and in the Moscow embassy during the communist regime and the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also discussed what it was like to work with politicians such as Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. Mr Brooks counselled pupils to “take the long view”, no matter how complex political situations may seem, as in his time he has seen several ‘intractable’ situations become resolved.
While putting Global Warming into context alongside other threats faced in his lifetime, he advised that things will probably not turn out as badly as initial reports suggest and said that having passion and conviction is not incompatible with perspective. His final words of advice were to question so-called established wisdom, be open to all opportunities and experiences, remain relentlessly curious, and travel as widely as possible.
Mr Books ended his address with a few nostalgic words about his school days and early travels, before thanking his audience and speaking of the “surprise and honour” he felt at being invited to give the Prizegiving Address.
Matthew Schaffel, the new School Captain, gave a vote of thanks which celebrated his long international career in the diplomatic service and thanked him for his insights and advice.
Finally, the Headmaster gave his review of the year, looking back on the successes of the past twelve months. In sport, he paid tribute to the U18 and U15 Water Polo teams who defended the School’s titles, and also various achievements in table tennis, badminton, football and rugby. In more academic pursuits, he spoke of the CREST awards, Chemquiz, MUN, MFL debating and hosting the first Northern Young Scientists Journal conference. He also mentioned the School’s Platinum Artsmark and led a round of applause for pupils who have achieved Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards.
In addition, Mr Britton bid farewell to members of staff who are leaving this summer: Dr Altimeemy, Miss Brearley, Mr Howard, Mr Lees, Dr Reeson, Deputy Headmaster Mr Wardle and Mr Zhang. They each received a round of applause.
Prizegiving ended with the singing of Jerusalem. During the course of the evening, there were three musical performances from students: ‘Praeludium and Allegro’ (Kreisler) from violinist Victor Chow, ‘Evermore Without You’ (David Zippel and Andrew Lloyd Webber) performed by Nicholas Clark accompanied by Dominic Hardy on flute, and ‘Andaluza (Spanish Dance)’ (Granados) from pianist Alex Gao. At the beginning and end of the ceremony, the hall was filled with organ music provided by Senior Organ Scholar Ben Chowdhury.
Watch Victor’s performance of ‘Praeludium and Allegro’ here.
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