[Taken from Newsletter No. 12, Winter 2013. The President’s picture is among the slides at the top of the page.]
On Friday 13 September last, I was honoured and delighted to be asked, as Guest of Honour, to give the prizes at the annual Senior Speech Day in the Big Hall.
This is a resumé of what I said.
‘The last time that I spoke at Speech Day, I started with a joke about one of the many nicknames that I had been given during my time teaching at MGS. Few people present here would remember it but nonetheless I am going to repeat it in view of the date today, Friday 13th September, and the on-going cull that is happening in parts of the country at the moment. I value my life! (Note: the name was ‘Badger’!).<!--more-->
‘I am fortunate this Speech Day, though I retired nine years ago, to have seen many of you in the course of your years at MGS, if not in the occasional cover lesson then almost certainly during the trials of your examinations where I was invigilating, or possibly during your triumphs or tribulations on the games field when I have watched inter-school fixtures, or fired the starting pistol on Sports Day, or marvelled at the music produced in the school concerts, or at the art work on display in the Art Room and around the school.
‘We all of us here owe a great deal to MGS and it has offered such a wide variety of experiences that our lives should have been enriched; if not then it has been our fault, for the opportunities have been there. For me, I thank MGS for the most rewarding career that I could have asked for and for a host of good and true friends, both colleagues and Old Maidstonians. We may not have enjoyed every moment of our time here – school mirrors life in that it is a learning process, and we learn from our mistakes – but we are all the better for it.
‘I am speaking to you today to congratulate every one of you, whether it be individually or as a member of a group, on your achievements in an increasingly challenging and competitive world. I sympathise with you if you feel you did not fully achieve your potential. When I told my Headmaster at my old school that I intended to become a teacher he looked at me, raised an eyebrow and said he would write me a reference: the main reason being not that he was impressed by my academic progress (which he wasn’t), but that he was a firm believer in the theory that old poachers make the best gamekeepers. I must agree that such ‘poaching’ experiences have held me in good stead during my career – I’ve done everything that pupils vehemently deny they would ever dream of doing!
‘I’m also speaking in my role as this year’s President of the Old Maidstonian Society, to echo the Headmaster’s words about the school as a community and to encourage you, when you have left these buildings and grounds later today, to keep in touch with your contemporaries, even, dare I say it, your teachers. (Seriously, I think they would appreciate it.) Meet up with them at least once a year – and what better time to do this than in March every year at the OM’s dinner, held here in the Big Hall this academic year on Friday March 28th, 2014. Before you leave today get together with your friends and pencil it into your diaries.
‘What a delight it has been this year to watch the revived OM’s rugby and cricket matches over at the Mote and to appreciate the high level of skill that all players have acquired during their time at MGS. Let us hope that football, hockey, even rowing and golf can be added to the regular list. (Any further suggestions welcome.)
‘Finally, my congratulations to all your teachers, your parents, but above all to you yourselves and the very best of good luck, success and happiness in what you
set out to do.’
While on the subject of congratulations, I am sure that all those OM’s reading this would like to join me in congratulating our previous President, David, on the occasion of his marriage to Kathryn recently. I wish them a long and happy time together and hope they will revisit soon and often.