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 17 November.
Speech Day is a celebration of the previous year’s academic, sporting and personal achievements, including a presentation of prizes to pupils. View the photo gallery here.
Our honoured guest speaker this year was former pupil, The RT Hon. The Lord Foster of Bath, PC. Special guests included; Deputy Mayor Councillor Claire Cozler, the High Sheriff of Lancaster Mr Anthony Attard OBE DL, Lord Shuttleworth KCVO JP and Lady Shuttleworth, Chair of Governors Mr Howard Roberts and Mrs Roberts, Professor Peter Dornan, Mrs Dornan and Mrs Sally Pyle.
Lord Foster is a former LRGS pupil, was a Liberal Democrat MP from 1992-2015, served on the London 2012 Olympic Committee and was Deputy Chief Whip in the coalition government. He presented this year’s prizes to pupils and gave an insightful speech in which he talked humorously about his time at LRGS as a boarder from 1958-1965.
Lord Foster said: “LRGS certainly put me on the right track for the career that was to follow. One of your governors – Douglas Cameron, taught me physics. He must have done alright with me since I went on to study Physics at university, then to teach it in various schools, write science teaching materials and eventually train future physics teachers.”
He added: “It was while training physics teachers that I first got involved in serious politics. I got elected as a councillor on Avon County Council and, within a few years, became Chairman of the Education Committee. That, in turn, led me to stand for parliament and become Bath’s MP for 23 years until I retired in 2015 when I moved from the green leather benches of the House of Commons to the red ones in the House of Lords.”
On looking back over his career, he said: “But all of my time in parliament – and my work before it - has led me to one inevitable conclusion; that education is the key.”
Lord Foster finished with a plea to current pupils, he said: “So value the excellent education on offer here at LRGS. Use what you learn wisely and with discrimination. And go on to use it to play your part in changing the world.”
Headmaster Dr Pyle began with a poignant reminder of the former pupils who fought and lost their lives in World War One. He went on to give the report of the year highlighting achievements by pupils and staff. Speaking about the successful results at GCSE and A-level this year he said: “Academic success is our bedrock. We believe that every pupil deserves the broadest and most enriching academic education: to understand covalent bonds, Hooke’s Law, the history of art, Gothic literature, the Enlightenment, photosynthesis, the Reformation, at least one language, modern and classical, harmony, calculus, coding, global warming, the Golden Rule. That cultural capital is every young person’s entitlement.”
He added: “But our ambition is richer still. It is also about character, kindness, gratitude – to shape young people who will get involved, who will serve, who will lead. So to the pupils: Get stuck in - outside the classroom too, whether that is Debating, Chess Club, Badminton, Carnegie Book reading, Warhammer, or any of our other 101 clubs. And student leadership is thriving – Prefects, Boarding, the CCF, from MedSoc to the History Society, Sport to InspirUS, Parliament Week, Green Day next Friday. I am delighted to see the new Lower Sixth Praesis ut Prosis awards, and Form Captains in every year group.”
In looking ahead, Dr Pyle concluded: “Old School House is wrapped in scaffolding, as we approach the end of a £2½ million project to create new classrooms, café and Sixth Form study space for our growing school. And we are welcoming Sixth Form girls next September. It was fantastic to see girls and boys from more than 20 schools at our Open Evening, because our ambition is to be the academic and all-round Sixth Form of choice – both locally and beyond, as this week we have also announced that we will open our doors to Sixth Form girls as boarders in 2020. It is an exceptional opportunity for them and an exciting moment for the school. It is a privilege to be in partnership with you all. Pupils of this very special school: today is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of every single one of you.”
Head of School Joshua Fowler spoke about his time at LRGS. He said: “LRGS is more than just a school. It has become my home, a dynamic blend of the old and the new, a place which takes boys and produces young men. Whilst I can’t offer a great deal of advice, I can say this, to the current pupils. Everything is in place for you to do well, and as long as you are determined, and learn from your mistakes, you will. But at the same time, it isn’t all about the end product, it isn’t all about that man who walks out of the school gates in however many years’ time. Appreciate the journey, embrace every opportunity which comes your way, understand how fortunate you are, not only to have an academic education, but to have a holistic education, thrive under the challenges which will present themselves and treasure every moment at this school.”
We are also delighted that another alumnus Professor Peter Dornan FRS from Imperial College officially opened the two new science laboratories in the afternoon. Professor Dornan is a distinguished particle physicist who has worked at CERN and attended Lancaster Royal Grammar School from 1951-58.