Proud parents, teachers, current and former pupils from Lancaster Royal Grammar School and a host of distinguished guests came together to celebrate Speech Day with a ceremony at Lancaster Town Hall on Saturday 18 November.
Speech Day is a celebration of the previous year’s academic, sporting and personal achievements, including a presentation of prizes to pupils.
Our honoured guest speaker this year was Sir Colin Birss, Old Lancastrian and Judge of the High Court of Justice. Special guests included; Mayor Councillor Roger Mace, the Mayoress Joyce Mace, the High Sheriff of Lancaster Mr Robert Webb and Mrs Carole Webb, Chair of Governors Mrs Gill Manklow, Mrs Kate Birss and Mrs Sally Pyle.
Sir Colin Birss presented the prizes to pupils and gave an insightful speech in which he talked specifically about three teachers who particularly influenced his time here; Mrs Lewis, Mr Cameron and Doc Bentham.
He credited the knowledge gained in his science classes 35 years ago in enabling him to understand some of the complex scientific details in the Patent Court cases he deals with today. After regaling the audience with two of his latest cases, he said: “I would not have had a hope in understanding either case without the education I got right here, from the teachers I have mentioned and actually from all the teachers who taught me when I was here at LRGS.”
He advised current pupils: “Work hard, treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself; and most of all – work hard.” He added: “Education is a gift. You are getting a really good one. Use it well.”
Sir Colin Birss also commented on the recent decision to admit girls to Sixth Form at LRGS. He said: “I am delighted to hear the news that girls will be admitted in the 6th form. I think that is an excellent step.”
Headmaster Dr Pyle gave a report on the previous year and reflected on the recent news regarding girls joining the school in 2019 and how the school has been coeducational in the past. Dr Pyle reminisced on the history of LRGS when the school’s main site stood on Castle Hill. He quoted from Athol Murray’s ‘The Royal Grammar School, Lancaster: A History’, which says: “Girls worked in the same room as boys. Although rather repugnant to the later Victorians, coeducation was common in Lancashire in those decades.”
Dr Pyle also added: “Sir Edward Frankland adjudged that “far from there having been any disadvantage arising out of this mixture of the sexes, there was a decided benefit.””
“Some years later, before the First World War, Headmaster Watson was also a believer in coeducation although only to the extent that “By special leave of the Governors, his own daughters were enrolled into the School.””
Dr Pyle concluded that: “Our governors today are aiming a little higher than that, with much confidence in the educational and social benefits as we plan for the arrival of Sixth Form girls in September 2019.”
On summing up the achievements of current pupils the Headmaster said: “The school’s motto tells us that leadership is service. We see that in the prefects and mentors and InspirUS and in boarding and World Challenge; and in the Lenten Charities which this year raised £19,000. Pupils: you are the leaders. We believe that we are richer, the more we give ourselves away - and that if service is beneath us then leadership’s beyond us.”
Head Boy Lewis MacPherson spoke to the audience about his time at LRGS and that although he will be leaving in a few months’ time, that he will take with him memories that will stay with him for the rest of his life. Lewis said: “There are a multitude of teachers, some of whom are here today, that have studied at LRGS themselves, went to university, but then came straight back again to teach here themselves. If that doesn’t show you what a wonderful place LRGS is, I’m not sure what will. “He also said: “It’s not just the academics that make LRGS special – it’s the unique mixture of extracurriculars weaved in amongst lessons that really sets us apart.” Lewis also credited family support and the Friends of LRGS for their encouragement and belief, enabling pupils to be the best that they can be, every single day.