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Master's speech 2005

My Lord, Chairman, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, may I please add my words of welcome to those of the Chairman. Thank you for again honouring this most important day in the school year by attending in such numbers. While we are here primarily to recognise and to celebrate the achievements of the Haileybury pupils over the last 12 months, I hope that you will also find plenty of interest during the day, both in each others’ company and in the various exhibitions which you will see detailed in the programme.

We are particularly pleased to have with us representatives of the local community in the persons of Councillor and Mrs Allen Burlton, Chairman of East Herts Council, Councillor and Mrs Nicholas Wilson, Mayor of Hertford, and Councillor and Mrs Mark Farrington, Deputy Mayor of Broxbourne. Their presence reflects our concern, and indeed our duty, as an important, long established and fortunate institution, to serve our local community consistently with providing for our own pupils.

It is a pleasure also to have with us representatives of the Haileybury Society, the association of former pupils, led by the Chairman of Trustees, Mr Michael Freegard, the current President, Mr Pat Lloyd, and the President elect, Mr Donald Macleod. For many years the Society has provided generous financial support for projects and for bursaries within the school and they have done so again during the last 12 months.

I share the Chairman’s pleasure that we are able to welcome a large and distinguished delegation from Malaysia. Dato Vinod Sekhar’s generosity towards his old school has been quite outstanding, providing a substantial step towards the achievement of the prime target of our development aspirations, a much enlarged bursaries fund. He will be able personally to commend the first beneficiaries of his work experience scheme a little later and we look forward to working closely with him and his team over the exciting project which the Chairman mentioned. Immediately we are profoundly grateful for his generosity.

We, and I think I can safely speak for us all, are grateful too to the members of the Committee of the Haileybury Parents’ Association for their sterling work over the last 12 months. Their social gatherings have enabled us to enjoy each others’ company and contributed substantially to the important community dimension of our school. The Committee exudes cheerfulness and commitment which is why we all get on so well. Thank you.

In the last 12 months we have seen encouraging progress towards the achievement of other development aspirations, entirely a consequence of our supporters’ generosity. The magnificent gift of the Chairman of the Development Board, Mr Edward Holroyd, has enabled that prominent, central, versatile hall, Big School, to be most splendidly refurbished. Please admire that improvement today if you have not had chance to do so already. One current parent’s kindness has provided valuable additional equipment for the Technology Centre. The Trustees of the estate of David Smyth (OH) have provided a splendid concert standard Steinway piano and additional pews in the Choir stalls in Chapel so we no longer have to turn away keen volunteers on the grounds that there is no room. Last weekend our rowers triumphed in the Men’s Novice Coxed Fours at the Twickenham Regatta, winning all four races in the boat and with the oars provided by another parent’s substantial donation. Old Boys have continued to contribute to the Colin Cobb Bursary fund in memory of Haileybury’s longest serving and much revered member of staff. You will know that we feel a great obligation to continue to seek supporters who can help us to improve the facilities to the benefit of future Haileyburians as generous benefactors have done for us over nearly 200 years. It is a noble cause.

This will be the last appearance at Speech Day of several senior and long-serving members of staff. Mr Lloyd Bookless has served this community with great dedication since 1969. A scholar and a gentleman, several thousand Haileyburians will have had reason to be grateful for his meticulous teaching of Classics and his dedicated service as Housemaster of Melvill, mainly in the days when House Tutors were rare and Sundays off were unknown. Subsequently he became Universities Adviser where his accuracy and attention to detail many admired and relied on. Latterly he has served as Academic Tutor in Allenby where his benevolently avuncular interpretation of the role appeals to young and old. There is much about Lloyd Bookless we shall miss, including his sterling support for Chapel, not to mention his humorous asides, often penetrating, never unkind.

Retirement beckons against the background of service to the school over no fewer than 108 terms. Hard on his heels in terms of length of service is Mrs Pam Deards who retires in the summer from her post as Assistant Technician in the Chemistry Department after 35 years’ service. The Head of Science maintains that her contribution has been enormous and her standards and work ethic second to none.

Mrs Pat Crook retires at the end of this term too, after 16 years, the first five in the demanding role of Housemistress of Albans, then a House for Sixth Form girls. Her teaching of Physics has contributed to that department achieving the best academic results in the school in several recent years. In 1999 correspondence from the Ministry of Defence confirmed what we feared that unless recruitment improved substantially the Naval Section of the CCF would be discontinued. In the conspicuous absence of ideas from elsewhere, the O/C, Colonel Monk, persuaded Mrs Crook to don the dark blue uniform and add the Naval Section to her sailing portfolio. The section has been up to strength ever since, always happily with a substantial complement of girls. The CCF and the Naval Section do us proud; the senior boy cadets’ victory in the Stowe Patrol Competition against 13 distinguished schools was a notable recent instance. At the CCF Dinner a fortnight ago Mrs Crook was presented with a carefully calligraphed certificate signed by, among others, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, (OH) Commander-in-Chief Fleet, with appreciation and affection palpable.

The Director of Studies Mr Tim Woffenden moves to a post at Reigate Grammar School and a new family life following the tragic death of his wife nearly two years ago. He has forced us to focus our attention properly on teaching and learning and determinedly tackled weaknesses during his eight years as Director of Studies. Much of our success in driving up academic standards has flowed from his willingness to exercise real leadership. The highly successful introduction of the International Diploma will be an enduring legacy. He is an unqualified enthusiast for IB. He rolled his sleeves up and undertook the complex business of making it work in 1999 as effectively the first IB co-ordinator. That mantle has now passed to Mr James Kazi, a crucial senior responsibility which incidentally he discharges with great aplomb. IB is really flourishing now with increased take up here and many more independent schools now (I hear talk of 50) contemplating its introduction following the demise of the Tomlinson recommendation. IB is manifestly respected by university admissions tutors too. That crucial additional dimension of our school was largely Tim Woffenden’s vision.

Edmonstone parents seldom spare the hospitality on these occasions I gather and I do not suppose they will today as they mark the 12 years’ service to the House of Alister and Elizabeth Bartholomew and their departure from Edmonstone at the end of this term. Their enthusiastic, generous hospitality reflects a long, cherished Haileybury tradition; few in my experience entertain more warmly or indeed more regularly. Their enthusiasm transmits readily to the boys. Cheerfulness