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Sage Advice Inspires at Summer Prizegiving

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Mr Michael Griffiths, who retires as Bolton School’s Chairman of Governors at the end of December, was the guest speaker at this year’s Boys’ Division Prizegiving. Fittingly, he had also delivered the keynote address in his first year as Chairman of Governors twelve years ago. Mr Griffiths told how he took immense pride in his association with the school, which stretches back to 1958 when he first joined as an 11 year old, travelling in via bike, steam train and a double-decker bus from Leyland. Recapping his school career, his time reading Economics at university, volunteering on a remote island and his early career at accounting firm Arthur Andersen, he told the gathering of boys, teachers and parents to play to your strengths and to never lose your curiosity, and that the more situations you can expose yourself to, the more you learn about yourself. He then spoke about creating his own business and the importance of taking calculated risks, following your instincts and living your dreams. 

Mr Griffiths thanked the outstanding Headmaster Philip Britton and his outstanding staff and spoke of the buzz and vigour that he can always feel when he enters the buildings. He referenced the School winning the TES Independent School of the Year Award and how this reflected the school’s important engagement with the local community and provision of bursary support. As someone who had himself benefitted from a free scholarship from Lancashire County Council to study at Bolton School, Mr Griffiths has always been passionate about providing fee support and was delighted that Bolton School has also won the IDPE’s Fundraising Campaign of the Year for its 100 Campaign for Bursaries. One in five senior school pupils currently receives fee support and the aim is to make this one in three by 2030.  He praised the boys, especially those receiving prizes in a school of high achievers, and told them to go out into the world and to make a difference for good. He said that this is the last time in this Hall for Y13 students but almost certainly not the last time they will visit and that they can always be assured of a warm welcome. Finally, telling them to have lots of fun, he wished the boys good luck! 

Thanking the Chairman of Governors for his address, Headmaster Mr Britton reflected how, although much had changed, the School’s ethos had remained constant throughout Mr Griffiths’ association with the school. He told of the threat to independent schools from ‘those that do not understand us’ and of his strong belief that our school, which attracts pupils from all backgrounds, makes a difference to social mobility in Bolton and the North West. The TES Award has demonstrated that Bolton School is showing nationally what independent schools can and should do and, along with the two Independent School Parent magazine awards and the IDPE award, that it is the go-to place for partnerships, selection, bursary provision and community engagement. Schools like ours, Mr Britton said, are the solution not part of the problem. 

Mr Britton paid tribute to former Headmaster Mervyn Brooker, whose premature death earlier this year had come as such a shock, before recapping what had been another busy and highly successful year, lauding academic and value-added, sporting and outdoor, music and drama and other extra-curricular achievements including national awards and appearances in numerous national finals as well as the now firmly embedded character development of pupils. You can listen to his full speech here (part 1) and here (part 2). He also reviewed the various enrichment activities and visits by guest speakers, many of them former pupils. 

He concluded his address by saying that a school is not about the buildings and premises but about the people – the pupils and teaching colleagues – and they are what makes this such an impressive school. The evening was punctuated by a series of accomplished musical offerings, including a performance by the Junior Organ Scholar William Martin, the singing of the school song ‘Forty Years On’, two violin solos by Victor Chow (here and here), Jamie Gregson’s trumpet solo, a performance by a vocal ensemble of ‘Ave Maris Stella’, written by Y12 student Adam Whitmore, the School’s Senior Young Composer of the Year, and a rousing rendition by the Hall of ‘Jerusalem’. Captain of the School Ruairi McCabe offered a Vote of Thanks to Mr Griffiths and refreshments were taken in the Leverhulme Suite.

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