It was a drizzly start to proceedings at Christ’s Hospital School for the annual Speech Day and prize-giving on Saturday 28th May 2016. But whilst the weather may have mildly inconvenienced the many guests in getting there (chief amongst those, the Rt. Hon. The Lord Mayor), the singing in the chapel was certainly not dampened. Close on a thousand voices joined in the Foundation Hymn, knowingly referencing (in a sagely Victorian manner) the pupils’ “old-worn habits” as well as the school’s enviably georgic location “ringed with downs and woodlands fair”.
Coffee was hastily dished out to warm the crowds (of proud parents, Guild and Livery Company guests and the civic party) as they braved the rain to witness a march-past of the pupils and the school band. The Lord Mountevans – flanked by his sword and mace, his Sheriffs and the senior school staff – doffed his feathered tricorn hat mechanically at each salute, and wore an expression of cheerful pride throughout. The disciplined pupils, their long yellow hose flashing in unison beneath their billowing Tudor smocks, were stony-faced under the scrutiny of their illustrious guest. The band played, the drums beat, and the timelessness (save for the clicking of smartphones) of this famous school was once more apparent.
Prize-giving was, by contrast, a much warmer affair, both in temperature and facial expressions. The Headmaster spoke lovingly of the school under his care, and introduced Isobel Pelling (Senior Grecian) who delivered a scintillating speech shot through with an equal measure of youthful pride and worldly self-deprecation. The Lord Mayor, not used to being outclassed as an orator, conceded the quality of the Senior Grecian’s remarks, and responded humbly before beginning the distribution of prizes and awards. The length of the list attested not only to Christ’s Hospital’s many endowments (a significant number of Livery Companies sponsor pupils and prizes), but also to its remarkable, high-achieving students.
Lunch followed and, just as the sun began to brightly shine, the crowds began to disperse and the students, in their curious livery, posed for souvenir selfies to mark the end of their time at the “school like no other”.
The Guild of Entrepreneurs was well represented by Court Assistant (and Old Blue) Nicola Manning, the Clerk and the Senior Warden (albeit wearing one of his other badges), and learned with particular interest of the development of the school’s careers and enterprise resource centre. It is hoped that the Guild will have much to offer Christ’s Hospital in the coming years, and that Speech Day will become a permanent fixture in the Guild’s calendar