Senior Prize Giving 2021

The Senior Prize Giving ceremony, which took place on Friday 19 November 2021, is a significant event in Farnborough Hill’s annual calendar and one which has now been celebrated for over 100 years.

Deputy Head Girl Amélie opened proceedings, welcoming everyone with the poignant acknowledgement that this was one of the first in-person events that we have been able to enjoy together as a wider community in over 19 months. It was wonderful to be able to finally come back together in our beautiful Chapel, with the event having been marked with a virtual ceremony in 2020.

Smartly-dressed pupils, both present and recent past, along with staff resplendent in academic dress, gathered together with guests of honour and proud parents to celebrate the unique gifts and talents of our senior pupils, who have once again triumphed in a year of adversity.

Head Girl Imogen gave the annual ‘View from the Hill’, celebrating the diversity of the Farnborough Hill community alongside something she believes the girls all have in common; the drive to excel, even in the most unpredictable of times. Imogen gave a joy-filled summary of some of the wonderful accomplishments that have been achieved over the past year in Sport, Music and Drama, as well as House, charity and community events, alongside impressive academic results at both GCSE and A level. In celebration of the girls present, Imogen quoted Serena Williams, who once said; ‘Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.’

In the Head’s report, Mrs Alexandra Neil expressed her pride in the sense of purpose, joy and curiosity that ebbs through every facet of life on the Hill. Mrs Neil reminded us that all the events, achievements, experiences, reimagining, successes and good old-fashioned fun which took place this past year were all in the pursuit of educating the whole person. She recalled the story of the founding Sisters of the RCE and told us that she has often marvelled at the tenacity and vision of these women. The goal at Farnborough Hill is to help our pupils blossom into strong, courageous and compassionate women, the best version of themselves, and that the model for this is to be found amongst our founders. Mrs Neil reminded us that the bounty of their life’s work, giving everything for the work to educating young women, is all around us. Mrs Neil’s speech can be read in full by clicking on the link below.

Head's Prize Giving Report

Mr Peter Forrest-Biggs gave the Year 11 Summary, reminding the girls that they should be immensely proud of all that they have achieved. Through a testing year, he reflected on the Latin phrase ‘Per ardua ad astra’, or ‘through adversity to the stars’– a motto of the Royal Air Force but also a phrase which can be used to describe Farnborough Hill’s Class of 2021 as they emerge from the challenges of COVID-19 and forge ahead with their next steps.

Mr Craig McCready, Head of Sixth Form, gave a warm and personal address to last year’s Upper Sixth cohort, reliving the highlights and challenges their A level year brought about through a comedic account which was greeted with smiles of reflection and laughs of recognition, and spontaneous cheers and applause from those in attendance.

The presentation of prizes and public examination certificates, both GCSE and A level, was made by Deputy Head Mrs Zoe Ireland. This was a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the many and varied achievements of the girls. In addition, there were awards for effort, commitment and talent including awards for the care of the environment, for special and significant contributions to the School, and for academic excellence, with the pinnacle prize of the evening, The Imperial Highness Empress Eugénie Award for Excellence, won by former Head Girl Eva.

The ceremony truly reflected and celebrated the School’s commitment to ‘educating the whole person’. Congratulations to all the girls who received prizes and certificates.

Gathered guests were then treated to a wonderful musical interlude, with the Senior Choir performing arrangements of ‘Over the Rainbow’, ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’.

Ms Helen Griffiths, Deputy Chair of Governors and Farnborough Hill Old Girl, then gave an inspiring address on a variety of topics. Her speech included the story of the School’s first Headmistress, Mother Roantree, whose epitaph is ‘Mulier Fortis’ (‘A Strong Woman’) and spoke of the girls’ efforts to fulfil their unique moral, creative and intellectual potential. Ms Griffiths stated that the girls, who have done so well so far, are going to require strength to meet all manner of challenges in the next stages of their education and early careers. She ignited a spirit in every heart when she observed that generation after generation of Farnborough Hill girls, strengthened by their experience here, have risen to life’s demands.

Ms Griffiths praised the Farnborough Hill staff, academic and non-academic, during the pandemic commenting that, as a governor, she had seen the ‘hard graft, dedication and commitment’ that went into developing online provision and leading the girls through the shifting assessment regime, both wholeheartedly and joyfully, fully in the tradition of the School’s founding Sisters. Dame Helen asked us to reflect upon the principles from which the Farnborough Hill community draws strength: ‘Respect yourselves, love and respect others, challenge your own thinking and behaviour and always strive to do better’.

Deputy Head Girl Parami then gave a heartfelt Vote of Thanks, expressing gratitude for the coming together of the Farnborough Hill community, in person. Parami conveyed her appreciation that the girls’ perseverance in such an uncertain time is testament to the extraordinary and tenacious women they have all become, as well as thanking the teaching staff for their ‘resilience and patience’ throughout the year.

Thank you to all the girls, staff, parents and guests for your contributions to this very special and memorable occasion and to all the staff and senior students whose efforts and contributions ensured the success of the event.