Our annual Senior Prize Giving is one of the School’s major formal occasions and a high point of the year. It takes place in the glorious surroundings of the Chapel and is marked by staff processing in academic dress, followed by governors and the guest of honour. It is a time to welcome back girls who left last summer, just four months ago and to hear their excited, joyful voices sharing news of the next stage in their education journey. It is a time to reflect on the past year with its many achievements as illustrated by exam certificates being presented and prizes being awarded for everything from sport, academic achievement, school spirit, care of the environment, courtesy and service and more. It is a time for speeches and for a sparkling performance from the School’s quintessential Senior Choir.
This year’s event, held on Friday 9 November 2018, retained the traditions of Prize Giving evenings past but with some new elements. Our recently expanded Upper Sixth Junior Leadership Team was particularly in evidence. Deputy Head Girl, Sophie, introduced proceedings and assisted with the presentation of the prizes. The Head Girl, Emily, gave a very assured review of the School year with some witty asides very much giving the student perspective. This allowed the Head, Mrs Alexandra Neil, the opportunity to expand on her vision for the School and the girls, putting this in the context of her own life experience and that of Abbé Louis Lafosse, the founder of the religious order which established Farnborough Hill in 1889. She focused on the fulfilment of individual potential, the education of women and the importance of seeking one’s own orientation joyfully and wholeheartedly.
Congratulations must go to all the girls who received prizes and certificates. These were presented by Mr John Suchet, whose illustrious career as a television journalist included ten years travelling the world as a news reporter, and 17 years as a newscaster for ITN’s News at 10. Since ‘retirement’, Mr Suchet has embarked on a new role as a presenter on Classic FM and a writer of books about music. In a very engaging address, he explained how his career developed as a result of lucky opportunities as well as hard work. He urged his young audience to be prepared for unexpected things to happen and to be ready to change in order to seize these opportunities.
Deputy Head Girl, Natasha, gave a Vote of Thanks and particularly thanked Mr Suchet for his advice and for helping to make the evening so special.
For the musical interlude, the Senior Choir sang ‘Close to You’ (Bacharach), ‘The Snow’ (Elgar) and ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing’ (Ellington). 'The Snow' was particularly chosen because it featured a beautiful violin accompaniment played by Vernon Dean and Catrin Win Morgan. This was a tribute to Megan Pound who taught violin at Farnborough Hill for many years and in whose memory the ‘Megan Pound Instrumentalist of the Year’ prize was awarded for the first time. Music also started the proceedings with the Renaissance sound of the Recorder Consort and solos by Julia on violin and Lauren on flute whilst guests arrived and a trumpet voluntary by J. Stanley ringing out from the Tribune during the procession (played by Miss Lucy Warwick). Organist, Mr Joseph Adams, played guests out as the ceremony closed with 'Toccata in Seven' (Rutter).