Chairman, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Let me begin by adding my welcome and greetings to those of the Chairman and by thanking you all for supporting this the most important occasion in the school year. For the third Speech Day in succession we believe that the number of visitors is a record. In addition to celebrating together the achievements of our pupils, my wish is that you will all find abundant interest during the day. After the receptions in the Houses and in the Lower School I hope that you will feel free to tour the various exhibitions and events set out in the programme, including the displays of pupils’ work in the Art exhibition and in the Design Technology Centre. With an eye on the weather incidentally the Jazz band will perform this afternoon in Bradby, not, as advertised in the programme, in Quad. It is a pleasure that we are able to welcome representatives of the local authorities, including Councillor Nigel Copping, Chairman of East Hertfordshire Council, Councillor Mrs Jeanette Taylor, Mayor of Ware, Councillor Charles Tranham, Mayor of Broxbourne and Councillor John Cook, the very recently elected Mayor of Hertford. Their presence emphasises the importance we attach to playing a responsible, good neighbourly role within the local community. I also welcome the President and Trustees of the Haileybury Society and thank them for their continued substantial support, tangible and otherwise, of our various endeavours.
I also wish to thank the Rt Revd Peter Nott, former Bishop of Norwich and Archbishop of Canterbury’s Adviser to the Headmasters’ Conference. Bishop Peter began his ministry in this diocese and throughout his life he has had plenty of contact with the world of education. In addition to advising the Archbishop, he was Chaplain of two Cambridge colleges and a Fellow of one. His son, who has joined us today, is the Head of a preparatory school in Buckinghamshire. Thank you indeed for the inspiring address to our pupils an hour or so ago.
At the end of this term we shall say farewell to four long-serving colleagues. Dr Ian Williams came to Haileybury in 1973 with a distinguished academic record. A Scholar of St Paul’s School, he took a good degree at Oxford and followed it with a Doctorate. He was for three years a teaching fellow in the Department of Physics at Southampton University. Here he rose to become Head of Science until 1992 when tragically he lost his first wife. Fortunately it proved to be a case of walking through rather than into the valley of the shadow of death. Recently Ian has remarried and his interests include his loyal support of the Church of St John the Baptist at Great Amwell. He has brought rare scholarly distinction to the Haileybury Common Room for thirty years which we shall miss. Mr Bobb Brown has reached retirement age too, though his looks belie it. A teacher of French and German of considerable versatility, Bobb Brown has dispensed careers advice as wisely and generously as any of his predecessors, latterly from his smart new office in the Centenary Building. How gratifying that so many of our pupils emerged from his last major initiative, the Careers convention three weeks ago, buzzing with enthusiasm over the opportunities to which their eyes had been opened.
Mr Chris Hurley, another linguist of ability and modesty, has taught with distinction here since 1989. His patient, thorough teaching of French and Spanish has proved outstandingly successful with pupils of all ages and ability. He has also discharged the immense administrative burden of organising the A Level and more recently the AS Level Examinations with remarkable efficiency. Late arrivals of scripts, students, invigilators, extra time, clashes, the lot he handles them all with remarkable patience and judgement. It is a matter of pride to him never to pass on problems and he never does.
The responsibility of organising GCSE examinations, another unglamorous task, will fall from the shoulders of Mr Richard Campling in a few weeks, prior to his retirement in July. He too has been a very steady hand within the Languages Department since his arrival here from Heath Mount School in 1978 and in his younger days he made a substantial and valued contribution to hockey coaching. He was a stalwart of Pastimes too; his capacity for comic mimicry and his ad-libbing, usually betrayed by barely concealed smirks, have had an appeal all of their own.
The Conference and Catering Manager, Nigel Anstead will also move on later this year when our current contract with the company Scholarest will be replaced by a very different version from September. Managing our domestic operation is a substantial undertaking which Nigel Anstead, loyally supported by his wife, has combined with delivering meals on wheels, conducting tours, reading in Chapel, dressing up as Father Christmas, running the holiday lets programme largely single-handedly and choreographing ‘Beating Retreat’ as well as providing at the last minutes all those items we forgot to order in advance, which is probably what he is doing right now. He is a much loved figure here; he will leave with our deep gratitude.
At the end of this term Dr Fiona Hughes and Mr Ian George will relinquish their tenures respectively of Colvin and Batten Houses. Fiona Hughes joined Haileybury in 1996 as the Housemistress of Alban’s with the school somewhat uncertain as to its future direction. Once committed to co-education in March 1997 Fiona Hughes, then the only Housemistress and a relative new girl, became an important source of guidance. Her help in the intervening years has been inestimable. Some of it remains as a permanent tangible testimony, for instance, her advice over the attractive uniform for girls and her help with the interior design of Colvin, which, only last month incidentally, with Melvill, received a national Civic Trust award for, I quote, "Its convincing plan and its positive contribution to a very sensitive location". Nobody could have been more conscientious or kind over counselling, comforting and cheering on her girls. In September Fiona Hughes will be responsible for the Biology Department where she will apply her imagination and formidable commitment as she has done in her two Houses during the last seven years.
When Russell Dore, a House for day boys, was subsumed into the Lower School in 1998, Ian George, then its Housemaster, was the obvious choice to succeed Robin Bishop in Batten, and he has now served 10 years in the two Houses. In his youth a fine rugby player, as his 16 Barbarian caps testify, Ian George will extend the major responsibility of Master i/c Rugby, which he has held since he was appointed by David Jewell in 1988, to the newly established role of Director of Sport. There he will ensure that all our pupils, not just the athletically talented, have access to physical education which includes good games facilities, good coaching and plenty of opportunity to play competitively. At the end of the Christmas Term we made our way from Lists to Chapel behind Mr Lloyd Bookless, to mark our respect for his completion of one hundred terms at Haileybury. Generous service indeed and a distinction set to become increasingly rare in the age of portfolio careers. We shall also wish well several younger members of staff as they move to further their careers. They include Miss Burge to whom we are indebted both for leading our charitable work this year and for the introduction of trampolining as a popular activity for pupils of all ages and Mr Michael Wright, both of whom move to Shrewsbury: Miss Piegelin, as she looks forward to her marriage to Mr John Coles, who will take over the leadership of the Geography department from Mr Peter Greer in September, Mr Bannister and Miss Bailey who intends to travel in the antipodes. We also thank and wish very w