A former pupil delivered an inspirational and uplifting message to students at Monmouth School for Girls.
Professor Anne Davies, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford, was the guest speaker at the school’s annual Speech Day and Prize-Giving on Saturday 29th June.
Professor Davies, also a Professor of Law and Public Policy, was a pupil at Monmouth School for Girls between 1985 and 1992, before studying at Oxford.
She highlighted the 100th anniversary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 which made it possible for women to qualify as barristers or solicitors for the first time.
And Professor Davies cited three pioneering women who had made such a major impact in the field of Law – Cornelia Sorabji, Gwyneth Bebb and Ivy Williams.
“We can learn a lot from these three young women who were starting out on their professional lives just over 100 years ago,” said Professor Davies.
“All three are inspiring and can teach us important life lessons,” she said
“They fought for what they believed in, they were patient and recognised that they were in a position of privilege to help others.”
Professor Davies told the girls: “Stand up for whatever it is you believe in and don’t let people put you off. Be patient because real change takes time. Try to find a way of giving something back and use the good education you have received to make life a bit easier for someone else.”
Professor Davies congratulated the prize winners and the House Cup was awarded to this year’s champions, Imbert Terry.
Prizes for outstanding achievements in academia, leadership, music, sports, charity and the arts were awarded to hardworking pupils from each year.
There were also special presentations to three long-serving and popular members of staff, Olwen Davies, Liz Goulding and Cath Griffiths, who are all retiring.
There were speeches from Chairman of the Governors, Mr Audley Twiston-Davies, and Mr James Kininmonth, the Master of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers.
Head Girl, Faisa, reflected on her family’s origins in Somalia, and spoke about resilience, diligence, humility, kindness, individuality, and the important role of the Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools’ community.
“We find inspiration in the person behind the person,” she said.
“In our lives we may not know who that person is – there may be more than one person – but all that matters is that they are there – nurturing, reassuring and ever present.”
New Headmistress, Mrs Jessica Miles, who joined the school at Easter, praised the pupils’ independent learning and social awareness.
“I am looking forward immensely to seeing more of this in the years ahead,” she said.
“The fruits of your attitude and talents have been seen so much this year. I have only been privileged to see a small snapshot of the year in this last term.
“This makes me feel very privileged to be your new headmistress and excited about the future.”
Mrs Miles also gave the girls some advice.
“Cultivate kindness and you will be not just leaders but extraordinary leaders,” she said.
“Seek to understand first before making assumptions or decisions, and walk towards people when they fail – not away from them.
“Speak about what is in your heart and not just what is in your head, learn to be kind to yourself first and then you will be find it easier to be kind to others.”
A selection of music from St Catherine’s Strings opened the ceremony, while the Chamber Choir, under the baton of Director of Music, Mr Derek Harris, delivered a lovely version of Roouwkema’s A Celtic Prayer.
The Concert Choir sang Home (Foster-Gillies, arr Mac Huff) and rounded off the event with It Don’t Mean a Thing (Ellington, arr Mac Huff).