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Home > News and Events > Speech Day 2021

Speech Day 2021

17 Sep 21

On Saturday 11th September we held our annual speech day at the School on the Chapel lawn.  Our recently retired Senior Tutor Michael Street donned his gown for the very last time as he addressed last year’s Year 13 leavers, students and relatives.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning, the audience was treated to academic and co-curricular highlights for prize winners. 

For the School, it is with a heavy heart we would like to thank and recognise this to be Michael’s last Speech Day address; after 24 years in the School he steps down as he begins his well-deserved retirement.  We shall certainly miss the wonderfully inspirational words he shares each Speech Day and thank him for everything he has contributed to this day, as well as every other in School.

Mr Streat’s speech, delivered Saturday 11 September to our 2021 leavers:

Welcome to our speech day – your speech day! 

For you all, I have even polished my shoes and – for the very last time – donned my gown and hood!  I am honoured to do so. Imagine an audience of a thousand people, some of whom might even know who you are – and with that in mind, I hope you enjoy what I am delighted to have the chance to say about you and what you have achieved.

We start with one of our Finbow Awards which are given in recognition of securing national Representative honours. It goes to senior prefect Nathaniel. Nathaniel continues to sing and perform with the National Youth Training Choir, despite the lockdowns. He also wins a Britten-Pears Prize, a share in the Fergusson Cup for the highest music grade, the Wesley Woods Modern Languages Salver, the Legg Biology Prize, the Legg Chemistry Prize, the Extended Project Prize, and the McMaster gold medal for his four A* A levels, and a fifth in the EPQ (not to mention 10 grades of 9 at GCSE).  He’s been fairly busy here… watch out Queens’ College Cambridge, where he goes next to read Natural Sciences as a choral scholar.  Stellar violinist, outstanding singer as you have heard, talented actor including a wonderfully rusty Tin man in the Wizard of Oz; fleet of foot athlete; brilliant linguist and scientist.  I’m not sure what Nathaniel doesn’t do… although that sentence should probably end ‘do yet’. Eight top prizes in this Olympic year, and a gold DofE award to boot – that’s better than Jason Kenney.

The final Finbow award, the LAMDA department Praecipula Crystal for the outstanding performance at grade 8, and the Charrot Prize for Drama are all awarded to senior prefect Annie. Perhaps you recall her as Shakespeare’s Mistress Quickly, or more likely as the most charmingly compelling Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.  That voice – no wonder she was the lynchpin of our Chamber Choir and successful at audition with the National Youth Training Choir.  And when not on stage or at her desk she was outside, playing regional hockey or leading the line for our first team three years running. She and her straight A and A* grades leave us for a degree in English and Philosophy at the University of Birmingham, and no doubt many a performance on stage and grass to boot. 

The Charles Notcutt Salver for debating is won by Petronella – the perfect example of the kind of person we need to challenge our leaders on the global stage.  She has been brilliant in the Model United Nations both here and at national conferences. She’s also led the way as head of product design for Young Enterprise, and as a sergeant in the RAF.  Her confidence has also blossomed through a string of LAMDA successes, and she has helped our younger pupils develop theirs as one of our pupil support prefects.  Outside school she was also shortlisted by Suffolk Libraries for the Young Volunteer Peoples’ Champions Award.  She leaves us for a degree in mechanical engineering at Coventry University.

Turning to music, we have two further Britten PEERS Prizes to bestow:  senior prefect Charlotte also wins Browsers Prize for English Literature, and the Hudson Trophy for the best contribution to the success of our CCF’s Army, in recognition for her outstanding leadership of this our largest section.  As a musician she has been a quite marvellous ever-present, either on flute or cello – and has always helped and encouraged those around her.  Outdoors she has gained her DofE Gold Award, excelled in cross country and hockey, and taken many a drenching in our annual tutor group sponging raising money for the Bridge School where she also volunteered with great compassion. As a student she has been utterly outstanding, straight 9’s at GCSE, straight A* at A level.  Next for her is Cambridge University’s Murray Edwards College to study English, the university having previously commended her for a brilliant competition essay. 

Our third recipient is Ianthe who also wins the Stephen Jackson English Prize, the History Prize, the Combined Cadet Force Cup and the Potter Hockey Cup.  She was also pretty amazing in the parents, pupils and staff beginners touch Rugby! Deputy Head Girl, captain of the hockey team (and part of a national development squad) and head of CCF, she has always led from the front with passion and beguiling charm. She is also grade 8 in both violin and trumpet – you may have heard her play, most beautifully, the Last Post at Remembrance Sunday. She ran the ‘History Society’, edited its magazine, and even found time to debate with the MUN. Her nine grades 9 at GCSE and straight A* at A level take her next to read History at the university of Exeter.

The senior Art prize is shared this year between Alex and Robert

First Alex whose photographic work shows extraordinary commitment, drive, patience and finesse.  His astro-photography has seen him travel to Dorset for the night to capture perfect skies and cosmic objects.  His blend of precision, computing prowess and work ethic have been immensely inspiring to his peers – his finished works quite breathtaking.  He leaves us, along with his straight A and A* grades, for a degree in Computer Science at the University of York.

Robert’s exploration of photovoice, a genre of photography in which the instigator equips other people with cameras in order to explore a specific idea, has given him the opportunity to articulate his deeply sociological and political artistic stance. His Christmas and Kindness projects completed over this recent lockdown were particularly poignant and affecting.  Senior prefect, gold DofE, grade 8 LAMDA and rugby referee, Rob has been both busy and immensely successful across the spectrum of Woodbridge life, and leaves us next for a degree in International Relations at the University of St Andrews thanks to his three A*’s and A’s.

The Classics Prize and the Graeme Bruce Prize for French are both won by Sophie, as is the Harper Cup for Girls’ cricket, very kindly endowed and presented to the school by her grandmother Margaret Harper and the Harper family.  How fitting that the inaugural winner should be Sophie.  We shall meet Sophie again later – for now we congratulate her on her wonderful mix of academic and sporting prowess.

The classical civilisation prize is won by senior prefect Edward, whose exceptional command of detail has helped make him one of its most talented pupils of recent years.  He also revels in modern history, and leads its society.  He aspires to a career in the military perhaps in part inspired by our CCF in which he was shooting captain and led the Signals Team he helped inaugurate to Bronze in its first national competition. He leaves us for a degree in International Relations and Conflict Studies at War Studies at Queen’s University Belfast.  

Moving to modern foreign languages, the Little trophy for Spanish is won by Harry who also wins The Bowles prize for Religious Studies, ethics and philosophy.  His three A* grades set him up perfectly for university, the choice of which one, and what to study, he will no doubt make with his customary and impeccable care – how exciting to have such an open prospect.  Here he has brought sophistication and authority to his many roles on stage, whether acting, for example, in The Wizard of Oz or singing with the chamber choir, and also to his formidable presence between the posts for our football team – none shall pass!

The Colin Warden Prize for Geography and the Psychology prize are both won by senior prefect Flora. She leaves us for The University of Edinburgh and a degree in Sustainable Development thanks to her three A* grades.  She exemplifies this compassionate consideration for the world, and those around her, through her volunteering for the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice, and her work with primary schools as a sports leader.  She is an outstanding sportswoman herself: she has played hockey and netball at first team and county level, and is an East of England Tetrathlete, with only fencing to go for the pentathlon – if only I’d known earlier!

The Sociology prize is won by Senior Prefect and inspiring RAF NCO Derry.  Derry also wins the Vera Freeman Prize for Business Studies. Derry has graced the Seckford Theatre on many an occasion, from numerous hard-hitting examination performances to musicals, to Noel Coward.  Grade 8 LAMDA adds lustre to his stage credits, as does his fine reputation as a guitarist and recording singer-songwriter.  He leaves us with his straight A and A*s for the University of Manchester and a degree in Social Anthropology, but before then… perhaps a performance after this, Derry?

The Binsted bequest for biology, the Legg Chemistry Prize, and the Mathematics prize (A* grades in each) are all awarded to outstanding natural scientist and senior prefect Aryan.  He leaves us to read medicine at University College London, his heartfelt desire to help others already well-honed as I saw to tremendous effect in his outstanding work as a volunteer at the Bridge School.  His natural empathy was also fundamental to his success leading our school integration programme, and to his work in the management team of our Young Enterprise business.  Aryan joined us in the sixth form: his two years here have been a whirlwind of shared endeavour built on enormous charm, companionship and dedication.

The Airy-Legg Physics Prize and the Morley Further mathematics prize both go to Ulysses whose insatiable love of discovery has led him to remain two or three paces ahead of his teachers most of the time.  Indeed he seemed to know about, and had properly researched, almost all my career’s worth of entertaining mathematical nuggets despite maths playing second fiddle to his true love of Theoretical Physics – his choice of study at University College London thanks to his straight A* grades.  His intellectual sense of adventure is mirrored by his physical one – he revels in rock climbing and bouldering (don’t rule out Paris 2024) and even volunteered to join my tutor group for our annual sponging as our first ever guest appearance.

The Tony Harvey Physics Prize is awarded to Tom. That he leaves us for the University of Birmingham and a degree in Aerospace Engineering will come as no surprise to those who know him: he loves nothing better than a machine to tinker with and some aerodynamics to refine – and putting both to good use he proved pretty speedy as a London to Woodbridge and Suffolk Saunter cyclist.  A fine racing sailor and agile climber, he loves the wide outdoors, but is equally at home in his workshop and was the driving force behind the design and manufacture of our Young Enterprise habitats for Bees. 

The Bell Prize for Medicine and the Tony Miles Chess Trophy are both won by deputy head boy, head of RAF and chess scholar Saif.  He leaves us for a degree in medicine at King’s College London, motivated by his absolute desire to help others and his fascination with the process of care-giving in all its guises. In another life he might have been a mathematician, his merit in the British Mathematical Olympiad a rare honour. Nine 9s at GCSE, three A*s and an A at A level, playing first team rugby and chess for school, and playing his guitar in concert reinforce his rightful title as one of our most charming of polymaths.

The Richard Fernley Prize for Economics is won by Saffron – another polymath (note nine 9s at GCSE and straight A* and A at A level), sufficiently multitalented to put economics aside, for now, so that she can study Spanish and English Literature at The University of Edinburgh.  Here she was a fine senior prefect, offering thoughtful and compassionate leadership, and combined this with playing excellent hockey for the school while tenaciously pursuing her Duke of Edinburgh Gold award.

Senior prefects Noah and Beth share the Medcalf Senior Technology Prize. And here I am honoured to thank Mr Harry Medcalf for re-endowing the award instituted by his father Wilfred, an Old Woodbridgian of the mid 1920s whose name is on the honours boards in School Hall and on a Chapel chair as one of the pupils who helped in its construction.  His long and distinguished career in engineering included Second World War work on the development of RADAR.  Alongside the prize’s re-endowment, his son Harry commissioned a new trophy (the original sadly lost amongst the rubble of our old sixth form building – its last winner forgetting to remove it from his locker in time…).  The commission was won, and subsequently made, rather appropriately, by Noah last year.  I would like to invite Harry to join Noah on stage for the presentation. 

While they make their way, here are a few words onour two winners.  First Beth, who sadly cannot be here today as she starts her degree in Graphic Communication Design at Central St Martin’s in London thanks to her straight A* grades.  Her talents have also been recognised in the world of Young Enterprise, her award winning company benefiting from her graphic skills and eco-friendly creativity.  A great team player, she has also supported those around her as one of our excellent pupil support team, as a tremendous Bridge School volunteer, a brilliant ski team captain and army NCO. 

Clearly a great designer and formidable engineering machinist – indeed Mr Medcalf will present Noah with a personal prize for his design and manufacture of the trophy – Noah is also a talented sailor, so perhaps yachts will feature in his industrial design course at Brunel University.  He has honed his aquatic skills sailing and racing for school and CCF, and also over many summers working at Aldeburgh Yacht Club, rising to become its youngest ever senior boatman thanks to his skill, hard work and integrity.  His work has additionally seen him effecting rescues at sea in extremely challenging conditions, further earning the trust of the most wizened of Aldeburgh’s Sea Dogs.

The Jeff Leslie Memorial Award for Friendship is shared between Omeed and Jenny.  First Omeed, who has relished his two years here, despite lockdowns, and been instrumental in helping our boarders in School House remain so positive and happy.  Senior prefect and head of School House, key member of our pupils support team, RAF NCO and Young enterprise director Omeed feet have barely had time to touch the ground here.  How appropriate that his degree should be in aerospace technology at Glasgow University after a gap year.

And Senior Prefect, Jenny also joined us for sixth form.  In that time her kindness and consideration for others shone out, making her an immensely effective Army NCO, in which she was also a marksman. She loves the outdoors, rarely happier than when surfing, diving or running, and has played netball for the school.  Next for her a degree in biology at the University of Sussex, I hope close enough to the sea to allow her the chance to explore a marine specialisation perhaps.

Another to have graced our CCF is Royal Navy Section’s Adams Trophy winner and Chief Petty Officer Joshua. His considered and calm leadership has encouraged and nurtured his cadets and the section has flourished in his care. He has also been a key member of the Rolling Thunder Signals Competition team and is an accomplished sailor and kayaker. On dry land he has been the lynchpin of our guitar ensemble and plays with a beguiling fluidity and lightness of touch.  For him next is a degree in geography at the University of East Anglia.

The Bancroft-Wilson Cup for the RAF Section, and the Liley Cup for girls games both go to senior prefect Sophie. Sophie’s irrepressible energy and enthusiasm have made her both a brilliant Bridge School volunteer and an inspirational leader, whether as an NCO or in sport.  First team hockey, netball, and skiing, and a multitalented athlete in track and field, she has represented both school and county with distinction.  Nine 9s at GCSE and three A*s at A level, she is also a keen musician in piano and violin, and is closing in on her gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.  Wow!  Her gap year takes her first to Valencia on the prestigious Erasmus programme. 

Continuing with sport, the Rotary Club Sports Leader Trophy is awarded to our excellent head of Sports Leaders and Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award candidate Charlotte.  Not only has she been a skilled teacher, but she has made sure that our programme’s logistics were pinpoint as well.  These management skills were also put to good effect in Young Enterprise, and also in her role as drama prefect – her understanding of the team dynamic, and of characterisation, no doubt enhanced by her study of psychology, a subject she is now excited to pursue further at the University of Nottingham having secured straight A grades this summer.

The Alice Edgar Netball Cup is presented to senior prefect Nell, who left yesterday for the University of Leeds and a degree in Modern Languages – I can’t think where she gets that interest from. Nell is a quite outstanding netball player – a part of the Suffolk development programme since 2013, she has more recently been county captain and now trains on the Saracens Maverick’s futures programme and plays in the eastern region first division league with Ipswich Ladies. But life is more than netball, and Nell was a tremendously compassionate Bridge School volunteer, and has been a highly respected sergeant in the army section.   

The Harper Cup for Boys cricket is won by senior prefect Daniel whose string of outstanding performances for us over many years, often as captain, earns him this fine trophy; indeed his imperious batting has overwhelmed many an opponent.  His extraordinary sporting prowess extends to first team captaincy in rugby and hockey for us, and semi-professional football (a Woodbridge first I think), also as captain, for Felixstowe & Walton Football Club under 18s.  Next for him is a gap year before a degree in economics and finance.

The Sledmere Trophy for rugby goes to senior prefect Ben who, alongside his leading role in our first team, has already represented the English Lambs and the Suffolk county team.  His love of rugby, and sport in general, is something he has been delighted to pass on to a generation of primary school children through his expert coaching as a sports leader.  He is a natural team player, and so will no doubt relish the project management element of his Geography degree at Swansea University, alongside a little Welsh rugby, perhaps…

The Orby Wood Cup for boys’ games is won by the multitalented junior prefect Charlie.  First team rugby captain for school and town, and first team hockey and cricket, a brilliant athlete, Charlie was also the most gentle of giants as a tremendous volunteer at the Bridge School.  He’s taken that experience further, raising money for the school via the London to Woodbridge and Suffolk Saunter bike rides.  Good man!  Next for him is the University of York and a degree in Modern Foreign Languages.

The winner of the Ripman Cup for Boys’ Hockey is junior prefect Hugo.  Needless to say, he’s pretty good: he’s regularly represented the East of England, Suffolk, and the Ipswich men’s first team. As a coach and sports leader he delights in passing on his skills.  He’s quick off the mark, too, and sprints for Ipswich Harriers. By way of contrast, when volunteering at the Bridge School Hugo forged a particularly striking bond with a boy with severe autism – the classroom teacher was immensely impressed by Hugo’s capacity to listen and to show such empathy.   Hugo’s next step is the University of Manchester for a degree in Politics and International Relations.

Our next trophies acknowledge an all-round contribution to Woodbridge Life.  First the Hewlett Cup: Nathan has made a tremendous contribution in his two years with us, including chairing the sixth form committee. He has been particularly prominent in music for us and for the County Youth Orchestra: expert on the tenor horn, and pretty handy at other brass instruments at the drop of a hat, he has contributed impressively to many of our ensembles and orchestras.  As a sports leader he has nurtured and encouraged any number of future Olympians.  He has also gained DofE awards, and outside school taken a leadership role in the scouts.  He is drawn to helping others, and his degree sets him on course for a lifetime of the same: Pharmacy at the University of East Anglia.

The Alexandra Edgar Cup is awarded to junior prefect Amy.  Amy looks to put others first whenever the opportunity arises.  I saw her at work as a volunteer at the Bridge School and was immensely impressed by the wonderful rapport she swiftly built with her class. She has been just as successful as a sports leader, guiding with gentle but persuasive skills both primary school children and elderly care home residents.  This abiding interest in the people around her, and in their wellbeing – embracing as it did her impressive ability to motivate her peers even in the midst of lockdown learning, and her inspiring captaincy of our mixed first eleven football team – takes her, and her straight A and A* grades, to the University of Manchester and a degree in Biomedical Sciences.

The Morton Cup for Boys is awarded to senior prefect Hal.  He can claim a unique place in my Woodbridgian Weekly reporting thanks to his extraordinary national successes trampolining, and I can still remember (heart in mouth) his spontaneous aerial summersault on the main square outside Cologne Cathedral in response to a local gymnast’s tumbling routine – not what I was expecting on a Chamber Choir tour…  Gymnast, first eleven footballer, co-editor in chief of the school magazine, chair of the school council, chorister, and excellent companion to all, Hal leaves us for Durham University and a degree in English Literature thanks to his straight A and A* grades.

And Senior Prefect Verity wins the Hutchison Cup. Verity is the very essence of the entrepreneur: passionate, enthusiastic, and imaginative. She leaves us for a gap year, with an eye to a life in international events management – no surprise given her leading role in some of the school’s major occasions, from fundraising events to summer balls. Given the success of our prizewinning Young Enterprise company under her managing directorship I sense a bright future.  Here she has promoted initiatives to help students enjoy their life in school and has been the driving force behind our Student Council.  She has also represented the school in netball and hockey, often as captain; and has led from the front as an army platoon sergeant.

Old Woodbridgians’ Leavers’ prizes are presented to members of the Sixth Form who have not been given other awards but who in one or more areas have contributed significantly to the school through their example or influence: Junior Prefect Samuel is a sportsman par excellence, particularly in rugby, hockey and athletics; a brilliant Bridge School volunteer and key member of our pupil support team by way of a gently beguiling contrast; as well as being an excellent RAF cadet and holder of the gold DofE award.  He now turns his attention to a degree in Economics at the University of Glasgow, alongside a little more sport I suspect.

Fellow Junior Prefect Victoria has also been a tremendously enthusiastic head of sports leaders who revelled equally in the teaching of primary children with the chance to support the elderly in care home settings.  She was also the perennial lynch pin to our top hockey and netball teams.  Next for her, thanks to straight A and A* grades, is a degree in pharmacy at Newcastle University, with a career helping others in prospect.

Maddie leaves us to read mathematics – tremendous choice – at Newcastle University, thanks to straight A and A* grades this summer.  Hard though it is to believe, there is more to life than maths, and Maddie has embraced its opportunities here.  A brilliant volunteer at the Thomas Wolsey School, she has also secured gold DofE, and has been an inspirational mathematics prefect, helping younger pupils joyfully find their hypotenuse. 

It’s hard to credit that Kia was only here for two years – her profile, particularly on stage, was impressively confident and beguiling – her performances, whether in devised drama for exams or in the wonderfully familiar Wizard of Oz, captivating and powerful.  A runner and windsurfer too, I suspect she’ll relish the opportunities she’ll find at the University of Plymouth, where she goes next, to read Psychology.

Junior prefect Aimen has performed in our Dance Show, been a hugely committed Care home volunteer, debated robustly and effectively in conferences at the Model United Nations, headed up Research and Development in Young Enterprise.  All the while she has also focused outstandingly effectively on her studies, brilliant GCSEs and straight A and A* at A level take her next to St George’s, University of London to read medicine.

Those of you lucky enough to have seen Isabella’s artwork on display in our Art Department or on its website will not be surprised to know that her next step is a fine art degree at the University of Brighton.  Her work is exceptional, her ability to talk about it and reflect on her processes mature way beyond her years.  She expresses herself equally powerfully through music; and her emotional intelligence has made her a key member of our pupil support team, and separately an inspiring sports leader.

Charlotte collecting her prizes including the Hudson Prize and Browsers Prize for English Literature

Anyone who has followed our hockey will know our man behind the mask – our lionhearted goalkeeper Alfie.  Fearless and immensely skilful, he brings the same excellence to his rugby, for school, town and county.  Charismatic and effervescent, he has also honed a compelling stage presence and notched up many successes in LAMDA.  His straight A grades at A level take him next to the University of Edinburgh to read history and Spanish and no doubt play a little sport.

Junior Prefect, first team footballer with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the game if tutor group conversations are anything to go by, and economics editor on the school magazine, Miles has been a sure and certain friend to his peers and excellent role model to his junior tutor group.  His unfussy but immensely dedicated and patiently determined approach to school has set him up perfectly for his next step: his degree in Business and Management at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Senior Prefect Joshua is an outstanding rugby player, representing his county and numerous club sides including the Bury St Edmunds 1st team, as well as, of course, for us. He adds to his portfolio expert tennis, and by way of contrast a love of music including playing two instruments.  Outside school, his role as a scout leader and volunteer has taken him to North America.  His next adventure is closer to home: Loughborough University and a degree in Bioengineering.

A leading light in School House since joining us for sixth form, Vanessa has brought passion and determined resilience to her time here, making her a highly respected head of family – one to whom others readily turn for good advice. She has revelled in her role in our concert band too, playing flute, and has also enjoyed the chance to play basketball.   A straight A student, next for her is a degree in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh.

Thomas Wolsey volunteer Hope looks to build on her impressive record helping others as she leaves us for Northumbria University and a degree in Occupational Therapy.  She has consistently put others first, whether here in the pupil support team, supporting the elderly as a volunteer, or raising money, most recently for the Teenage Cancer Trust by shaving her hair.  She has also been a regular on stage and in the LAMDA studio, and is a Gold DofE award holder.  

School House resident, and mentor to many, Shounak has already set his sights on building his own business.  Immensely successful in The Student Investor Challenge competition, and spurred on by his home experiences to create employment, he takes his next steps towards realising his ambitions at the Hull International Business School for his degree in Business Administration.

Magnificent Bridge School and care home volunteer, founder of and frequent speaker at our Psychology society, and junior prefect Libby has made the very best of her time here.  Alongside impressive academic credentials including straight As at A level, she has also gained her gold DofE award, played first team netball, and passed on her love of sport as a gifted sports leader.  For her next is a degree in Psychology at Durham University.

Junior Prefect Tori has represented the school in both hockey and netball, and is another to have excelled at passing on her enthusiasm for athletics to young and old alike through the Sports Leader programme. Outside school her focus has very much been on building experience in the varied and – as we all appreciate more than ever before – the essential world of nursing.  She pursues this most worthy of ambitions next at the University of Surrey, taking a degree in Nursing Studies.

Army sergeant and senior prefect Toby is also a talented sportsman, representing school and club at cricket and forming the last line of defence as full back for our first fifteen.  He has also had tremendous success in LAMDA and is a fine pianist – you may have heard him perform on one or other of our live broadcasts, and his playing supports one of our school promotional videos.  For him next a degree in Psychology at the University of East Anglia.

Junior prefect Lewis has also been an outstanding Model United Nations prefect, known for his skilled and well researched debating, good enough, in particular, to sway a reluctant assembly in his favour at Felsted.  He has been equally prominent and successful as a talented and cultured footballer and captain of our team, and as NCO in charge of training with our CCF.  His degree suggests his success in MUN was prescient: International Relations at the University of Exeter.

There are some stage performances that stand apart – often for their originality as much as their consummate skill.  One such was Tom’s in The Red Shoes.  No words – just actions, expressions, dance and movement.  It was mesmerising.  Literally breathtaking.  No surprise that next for Tom is work as a drama coach – his empathetic nature allied to his own skills will be a powerful combination. Equally powerful was his cycling and fundraising for the Bridge School – and for his contribution I remain very grateful.   

We come now to the Headmaster’s prizes awarded jointly to two exemplary Woodbridgians – last year’s Heads of Schools.  Equal in leadership, equal in role, I will ask them to come on the stage together.

I speak first about Sophie – now a third generation OW: Sophie’s distinguished career through school, including ten grades of 9 at GCSE, four A* grades at A level, and DofE gold, take her next to read Classics at Trinity College Cambridge – I thought it best to reread the Aeneid (in translation) so I would be properly prepared for our mock interview – she said I passed.  She could have said that equally fluently in Latin, Greek or French.  I’m grateful we stuck to English – rather like I suspect many opponents were grateful to find themselves far away from her at the other end of the hockey or netball pitches, though at 22 yards that’s not such a good strategy in cricket…  She speaks with fluency, warmth and conviction – it’s what has helped her to be such an accomplished leader in the CCF, a brilliant Bridge School volunteer, and so successful in Modern United Nations debate and in her LAMDA exams. She combines words with action, too – always first in line to volunteer, always up for a challenge, always seeking a better future for her peers – she has been a wonderful Head Girl – Aeneas would agree.

And Joshua – another natural, yet modestly understated leader.  His rise to leadership in school as head boy, in Young Enterprise as Deputy Managing Director and author of its award-winning company report, in the CCF as Colour Sergeant and Head of Combat Cadet, and as Pack Leader in our first fifteen and as part of regional and national teams, is recognition not only of his many and varied talents, but also testimony to his integrity, emotional intelligence and natural authority.  He takes responsibility, supports others in theirs, and gets the best out of the teams he builds.  He has also been an immensely dedicated student, not only in the classroom, but also as a singer gaining top grades, all the while securing his DofE Gold Award while still at school.   For him next is a degree in Economics at the University of Southampton. Sophie and Joshua – where you have led, your peers have been delighted to follow: we are immensely proud of all you have achieved, and in the way that you have worked so effectively together to help us triumph over everything the last year has thrown at us.  The school is deeply grateful for your extraordinary contributions: our Heads of School.

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