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Rugby legend Eddie Butler entertains at Prize-Giving

July 9th, 2016

Charismatic rugby legend, Eddie Butler, painted a vivid picture of Monmouthshire as an independent nation with its own government in a hilarious and inspirational speech at his old school.

The BBC commentator and author, who was once described as ‘the David Attenborough of rugby’, captivated guests at Monmouth School’s annual Prize-Giving and Speech Day on Saturday, July 9.

After praising fellow Old Monmothian Hallam Amos on his recent successes with the Welsh rugby team, Mr Butler talked about Monmouthshire being one of only five areas in Wales voting to remain in the European Union.

He said: “We have a special status in Monmouth – may I explore it with you? Basically, we don’t know who we are. On my travels I’ve gone many times to Llanelli to watch them play rugby. When they ask where I’m from, and I say ‘Monmouthshire’, they reply ‘well that’s not really Wales, Eddie Butler’.

“We have this thing – we’re not Welsh but we’re certainly not English, so what are we in Monmouthshire? Well, I think we should put ourselves to a test and have another referendum. Let’s take it to the people and see if they want to form the independent republic of Monmouth.”

In Mr Butler’s vision for the county, the lower chamber would be formed at the boys’ school and Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls would become the upper chamber.

“We would make sure that the government is close to the people so that the elected members of the lower chamber would take over the Blake Theatre and discuss trade treaties with our new partners: San Marino, Lichtenstein, Angora and Iceland. Iceland would be a willing ally and of course we would all eat cod in the new republic,” He added.

In case of trouble, Monmouthshire would need a head of state, said Mr Butler. He recommended the School’s beloved rugby coach and former British Lion, John Bevan, who has just retired from his Housemaster role, for the job.

“The Bev would simply stand up and say ‘Up, up! Defend, defend!’, because this would literally be the battle cry,” Mr Butler added.

Having keenly read the letters page of the Monmouthshire Beacon for the last 45 years, Mr Butler was sure local characters would be hugely reactionary to the new government, which would certainly lead to crises.

The sports star, who won 16 caps for Wales between 1980 and 1984 and scored two tries, then whisked the audience of parents, pupils, governors and staff back to the 17th century to when the Haberdashers were designing their crest and motto, ‘Serve and Obey’.

Mr Butler continued: “The motto isn’t there for you, because if Monmouth is worth defending it’s because you do anything but form a herd and just follow orders. Monmouth creates independence of spirit, character and thinking. We may not be an independent republic yet, but independence of personality is absolutely everything.

“So, all of you independent people, go out and make the world a better place.”

Head Boy Sam, who has an offer to study maths at Oxford, had created a new mythological creature to represent the typical Monmouth School pupil. In his colourful address, he explained that the Opossogeckolion (a blend of marsupial, lizard and big cat) is a “tenacious creature which is capable of carrying its own weight in kit and books in a handy pouch.” His “monster mash-up” boy, just like a lion, can be “counted on to lead the way forward.”

He said: “Realistically, there are many exceptional creatures wandering the School, all with their own particular skill set. The Haberdashers have provided in Monmouth School an establishment that wants your creature to flourish. Whatever the mix of skills, your creatures will have the chance to develop minds of their own, whilst the keepers and tamers support and watch over them, before they are released into the wild, equipped with the ability to overcome many of the different challenges that they will face.

“In truth, the Monmouth School Chimera is unique; parenting and schooling coming together to put the Monmouth Stamp on our heads, and a lion on our hearts, forming someone of whom we can all be proud.”

An amazing musical performance by Zac on the typewriter complemented the steel band’s rendition of Jump in the Line.

Headmaster Dr Andrew Daniel congratulated pupils on a year of brilliant achievements, including the School’s Young Enterprise team being named in the top 14 companies from over 2,000 entries nationally.

Prizes were handed out to boys for a variety of outstanding achievements in academics, art, sport and music. Lovely speeches were also made by Richard Glover, Master of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, and Audley Twiston-Davies, Chairman of Governors.

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