Monmouth School Speech Day and Prize Giving

July 5, 2014

A powerful sense of pride reigned during a particularly meaningful annual Speech Day and Prize-Giving at Monmouth School on Saturday.

Talented students, parents, governors, teachers and Old Monmothians gathered to listen to inspirational and moving words from the speakers.

Sheridan Swallow, Chairman of the Board of Governors, got the speeches underway.

He said there have never been as many boys at the School as there are now, and perhaps this is a reflection of its outstanding success.

Dr Steven Connors, Headmaster of Monmouth School, drew upon rapper Dizzee Rascal’s Bonkers in his address, saying the lyrics reminded him of planning the enormously ambitious 400th anniversary celebrations at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Dr Connors, who has been involved in teaching for more than 30 years, also spoke of the constant changing nature of education, saying: “In the independent sector we can at least choose not to follow the latest trends.”

The Headmaster praised the School’s gifted sportsmen, giving special mention to the rowing team who won gold in the coxed fours at National Schools after a 31-year wait to achieve the top spot.

Head of School, Will, called upon his beloved sport of rowing for the inspiration behind his speech.

Will, who won his GB cap racing in the Junior World Championships and is currently in the fastest pair in the UK, compared the School to a rowing team.

He said the ingredients which made the rowing team so strong were mirrored in the wider school community.

In both rowing and school life, he recognised that to achieve your goals you need the support of your teammates, motivation of teachers and coaches and a large amount of self-discipline.

He urged his fellow leavers: “Let’s do everything we can to make our boats go faster.”

Ben, who has won a place to read natural sciences at Cambridge, gave a fascinating talk on the importance of science and our relatively small position in the wider cosmos.

Violinist William Underwood’s technical ability shone during his virtuoso performance of Praeludium und Allegro by Fritz Kreisler.

Lord Colin Moynihan, Old Monmothian, returned as special guest speaker in the 400th anniversary Speech Day.

The Olympic medallist thanked the School for the opportunities it had given him, which began with a music scholarship, and the grades he required to study PPE at Oxford.

As ex Sports Minister and latterly chairman of the British Olympic Association, Lord Moynihan was on the board which masterminded London 2012.

Central to his speech was the aggregation of marginal gains, which can help people achieve their full potential.

He was able to say the difference between gold and silver at the Athens Games was a mere 0.054 of a second. This became the focus ahead of the Beijing and London Olympics where every effort was made to maximise each element necessary to win.

He urged the boys to concentrate their efforts and to aim high in everything they do.

Joff Bates, Master of the Haberdashers, explained the close ties between the Schools and the company and its role in establishing the best possible facilities and staff.

He told students that they embodied the living legacy of William Jones, and that he was proud of their achievements.

It fell to Mr Swallow to wish the leavers every success in the future and to thank the staff, pupils and their parents for their contributions towards such a memorable year.

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