St Benedict’s School celebrated a wonderful academic year 2014/15 at the Senior School Prize Giving on Wednesday 9th September. Lord Patten of Barnes, the school’s most eminent alumnus, was the Guest of Honour. The National Anthem was sung with perhaps more emotion on this particular day, when HM The Queen became the longest-reigning monarch in British history. Continuing with the royalty theme, it was fitting that the choral presentation at the start was ‘Zadok the Priest’, that wonderful coronation march by G. F. Handel, which was played as The Queen walked up the aisle in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953.
The Chair of Governors, Patrick Murphy-O’Connor, welcomed the assembled parents, staff, students and guests and then Chris Cleugh, Headmaster, gave his address, detailing the many successes of the past academic year and outlining plans for the future. These focused on five major priorities: a successful outcome to the impending ISI Inspection; to achieve our academic targets by continuing to deliver high quality teaching and learning across the Junior and Senior Schools, balanced by the continuation of our extensive co-curriculum programme; to strengthen our links with other EBC Schools through the Centre of Benedictine Education and to fully implement our Chaplaincy development plan; to prepare the new ADT and Sixth Form Centre for use by our Sixth Form from half-term and for the ADT department by January 2016; to ensure a smooth transition to the new Headmaster, Andrew Johnson, who will take over in September 2017.
Lord Patten gave the final address which included not only his memories of his “blissfully happy” childhood at St Benedict’s but also how his time at St Benedict’s, more so even than his studies at Balliol, formed him for life. Considering his career, this was quite an endorsement of the Benedictine way of living. He gave advice to the assembled students: “Seize the opportunity to do good in small things as well as great.” Lastly he paid tribute to Mr Cleugh, whose last prize-giving it was, for his successful stewardship of the School since his appointment in 2002.
Following Father Abbot’s Blessing, the school hymn ‘Reigning in glory, Benedict our Father’ was thundered out by over one thousand voices. It was a fitting finale to a wonderful evening.