The theme of this year’s Senior Prize Giving was ‘Certainty in a time of uncertainty’; a fitting message and a promise that the community of Farnborough Hill will remain strong.
Prize Giving at Farnborough Hill has been an event now for over 100 years, and one which the whole School community looks forward to as we celebrate the gifts and talents of our senior pupils. This year, it became evident fairly early that we would have to rethink the way it was run; would Year Group assemblies suffice? But, what about parents; how could they join in? Should we just write to the winners? Nothing seemed to fit the grandeur of the usual occasion until it was suggested that we aim high and attempt to recreate an awards-style virtual show.
We enlisted the help of a local producer and videographer, put together a programme and each speaker began to consider their message. Meanwhile, the order of prizes was carefully considered so that we could build to the crescendo of top prizes on the evening.
Many days of hard work in capturing the footage, followed by hours in the editing suite, resulted in a Prize Giving alternative we were proud of. On Friday evening, the countdown on YouTube Premiere beamed into over 350 homes as we gathered, virtually, to celebrate the girls.
Proceedings opened with a love-filled welcome from Deputy Head Girl, Libby, who reinforced the message of still being a community, despite our distance. A lively and uplifting flute piece by Year 11 pupil Naomi followed, before Chair of Governors, Mr Tim Flesher, delivered a short summary of the challenges of the previous year and how the School rallied to overcome them. Eva, Head Girl, provided the annual ‘View from the Hill’, commenting how the year began as normal, and, in a heartbeat, the world changed. We were forced to adapt very quickly, but the community remained strong and together throughout.
Music Captain, Lucy, provided the next interlude, playing a beautiful piano piece by Poulenc. She was followed by Mrs Alexandra Neil, Head, whose full address you can read below.
Mrs Zoe Ireland, Deputy Head Academic, announced the prize winners from the traditional venue of the Chapel, beginning with last year’s Year 10 awards and working up the Upper Sixth and the all-important service and endeavour prizes. The list of winners was interspersed with short congratulatory speeches from Mrs Lynda Hooper, Head of last year’s Year 11, and Mr Craig McCready, Head of Sixth Form.
Isabella (LVI) took to the piano for a final musical piece, before the announcement of top prizes was made. This included the Empress’s Cup, a prize that lay redundant for many years but which was resurrected for the centenary of the Empress’s death. Emily (LVI) read an amusing note from the winner in 1915, Dr Helen Davies, who felt her lively and exuberant character was perhaps not fitting for the top prize. So, when it was rumoured she had won, she ran around the garden in her nightgown in celebration and as one final act of naughtiness. She was awarded the prize the next day. Emilia, Deputy Head Girl, rounded off the show with a final message of congratulations to all, both those celebrated within the Prize Giving service and all the other girls at the School, and a look to a strong, community-minded and certain future on the Hill.
We hope the whole School community enjoyed the Prize Giving film and that the prize winners, especially, felt it was a fitting way to have their gifts, talents and contributions to school recognised. We hope to be back together in person next year.