Last Saturday in bright sunshine, Battle Abbey School once more took to St. Mary’s Church in Battle for their annual Speech Day.
A key part of the tradition and Heritage of the School and a chance to look back on the year’s achievements, award the schools outstanding contributors, and say goodbye to some of the leaving pupils who will be sadly missed when the School restarts in September.
The church was more packed than usual. No doubt due to the fact that the School wanted to say goodbye to the day’s guest of honour, outgoing Chairman of the Board of Battle Abbey School Governors, Ian Mercer.
The Speech Day is always a welcome chance to bring the school community together before the summer break with readings from the School Guardians, Harry Roffey, Helen Butcher, Georgia Cook and Josephine Milne, as well ‘Our Greatest Fear’ by Nelson Mandela read beautifully by Steven Finley, Hymns by the Schools Choir and of course the prizes and awards themselves.
David Clark, Headmaster, officiating at his first Speech Day opened proceedings ‘From September, we will have record numbers in the school and we will be full or oversubscribed in all but two year groups.
We have real ambitions going forward and watch this space for big changes, innovations and developments in our facilities and in certain faculties including Sport and Maths to name but two.
Already we are reaping the dividends of new thinking and new approaches and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to the staff, both bursarial and academic, for the way in which they are embracing this change.
I am convinced that it won’t be long before Battle Abbey is rightfully recognised as one of the best small school in the country… exciting times lie ahead.’
Incoming Chairman Peter Dass then gave the congregation a summary of what the Governing body do (not Govern!) and thanked Ian and Vera for their service and dedication to the School before handing over to Ian for the main event.
Ian Mercer, looking back at his 21 years serving on the Battle Abbey Board, 11 of which as Chair, spoke of the huge changes at the School in his time.
Changes managed while maintaining the core value system that underpin all the best of education at the Abbey. Ian finished by passing on some advice to the leaving pupils that was originally given to him many years ago by a Major who taught him at Sandringham. ‘Never ask anyone to do anything you are not prepared to do yourself.’
Ian Mercer then handed out the prizes and cups to pupils to much applause ably supported by Prep School Head, Maria Maslin.
The entire ensemble then reconvened across at the Abbey for one of the Schools fantastic Speech Day teas, and many took the opportunity to exchange a few words of thanks with Ian Mercer and wife Vera before making their way home.