The record try-scorer in Welsh rugby union history received a special mention at Monmouth School Boys’ Prep’s annual Prize-Giving.
Winger, Shane Williams, the former British and Irish Lion, who scored 58 tries in 87 appearances for Wales, was the inspiration behind Head Boy, Toby’s, year in office.
“When I thought about the type of Head Boy I wanted to be, I thought about leadership in sport and my mind turned inevitably to rugby and about rugby players who I thought made great leaders,” said Toby, who delivered a beautifully uplifting speech on Friday 6th July.
“One thing that really stuck in my mind was a television advertisement. In it, we are told that as a man you needed strength, size and power to play rugby. These words were directed at the Welsh legend, Shane Williams, and we all know he has none of those things if we take the words literally.
“But what, in fact, made him great was the size of his heart, the power of his ambition and the strength of his character.”
Toby also presented a cheque for £6,428.09 to his chosen charity, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, after a series of successful fund-raising events throughout the year.
Guest speaker, Lieutenant General Tim Radford CB DSO OBE, who has enjoyed a decorated 35-year career in the British Army, gave a fascinating and captivating talk to the boys.
“When you arrive at Monmouth School for Boys in September if you are not sure, ask questions, be enthusiastic, learn quickly, make the most of everything, try something new and be curious about the incredible opportunities on offer to you.”
He also stressed the importance of teamwork.
“Sometimes we end up in teams or in groups we don’t want to be in. I am afraid that’s life but that’s the time to remember that the team is more important than we are individually.
“Whichever team you end up in – whether in class or on the sports field – do your very best and help others in the team to be the best that they can be, especially those boys who will be new to the school, try to include them and remember that as soon as they arrive in your school they are a part of your team.”
Lieutenant General Radford continued: “Leadership is not about being the strongest, the tallest or the cleverest. It’s about serving and helping others.
“It’s about looking after people, caring and making decisions and taking responsibility for what happens; only very occasionally is leadership about being inspirational.
“If you work hard, believe in yourselves and think of others before yourself, show respect to everybody and try to be good leaders, every boy in this room can change the world and make it a better place.”
The whole school delighted guests with songs from Oliver! and scenes from the musical featuring Ollie as Oliver, Samuel as Noah Claypole and Freddy as Fagin.
Headteacher, Mr Neil Shaw, mentioned the many sporting opportunities available at the school.
Reflecting on the past year, Mr Shaw paid tribute to the work of Music teacher, Mr Joe Walton, for his part in co-organising the groundbreaking Friday Afternoons’ community singing project which involved all five primary schools in Monmouth and culminated in a stunning concert at the Blake Theatre.
He also praised the tremendous fund-raising efforts across the year, including the Snow Dog Appeal, Sport Relief Mile and Wear Red for Velindre.
“Seven boys made it to the regional semi-final of the Junior Language Challenge after learning Japanese and Ojas qualified for the national final where he learned Zulu,” said Mr Shaw.
“We were also awarded the trophy for maximum participation in the competition – more boys took part at our school than at any other school across the country.”
However, the two main highlights in the school year actually happened on the same day.
Srinivas, Cameron, Reuben and William were crowned UK champions in the Quiz Club National Inter-School General Knowledge Quiz Championship at the Tower of London.
“As the quiz team were lifting the trophy in London, we were putting on a dress rehearsal for our all-school performance of Oliver!,” said Mr Shaw.
“Through a perfect combination of drama and music, it produced a sensational result.
“The boys’ performances were staggering in terms of acting and singing; for those with lead roles the character portrayals were remarkable.
“I felt, and many others commented, that the calibre of the performances were truly astonishing for boys aged just 7 to 11.”
There were also a speech by Mr Audley Twiston-Davies, Chairman of the Board of Governors.
Prizes were handed out to the boys by the First Warden of The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers, Mr James Kininmonth, for a variety of outstanding achievements in academics, art, sport, music and exemplary behaviour.