Bidding farewell to the Class of 2022: QE’s first Valediction ceremony

Bidding farewell to the Class of 2022: QE’s first Valediction ceremony

This year’s leavers may have missed out on a few things because of the pandemic, but they enjoyed one opportunity not open to their predecessors: their own Valediction ceremony.

With their A-level examinations now behind them, all of Year 13 gathered in the Shearly Hall together with parents, teachers and guests for the inaugural event, which brought a mix of fun and the formal to their QE farewell.

As well as a small gift for all the leavers presented by Guest of Honour Robert (‘Judge’) Rinder (OE 1989–1994), the ceremony included prize-giving, with awards bestowed for: all the curriculum subjects; ‘contribution & responsibility’; ‘leadership & involvement’, and for extra-curricular activities ranging from chess to drama.

In his speech, Headmaster Neil Enright told the sixth-formers: “Today, we thank you for your fantastic contribution to the life of the School; congratulate you on the completion of your A-levels; wish you the very best for your bright futures; but also repeat our hope that this is not the end of your relationship with QE – merely the beginning of a different phase.

“Circumstances have been such that your year group has missed out on a number of opportunities and experiences due to the pandemic, not least your GCSEs and the full-throated celebration of those deserved results. I hope that today goes a little way to compensate for the loss of some of the School-based social events you may ordinarily have enjoyed.

“I hope in the years to come that you will come back and see us; tell us about your adventures and careers; and, more importantly, tell those following in your footsteps through the School. That you will show them and their families the great variety of things that an OE can do and an Elizabethan can be.”

Mr Enright also thanked parents for their “huge support, both moral and financial, over the years”.

In his vote of thanks, the 2021 School Captain, Siddhant Kansal, reflected on how he and his peers had changed since they arrived at the School in September 2015. Over the intervening years, most had grown “about 2ft taller” and would now be completely unrecognisable as the same boys.

“One thing that never changed, however, is the fact that all of us stood together the whole time and always looked out for each other,” said Siddhant.

He also paid tribute to Simon Walker, the group’s Head of Year from Year 10 onwards, who is leaving QE at the end of term. “I think I speak for most people when I say that the day he became head of our year was the most terrifying day of our lives…Four years later, we are still terrified, but also grateful for all that he did for us.”

Mr Walker was the afternoon’s Master of Ceremonies. After the speeches and presentations were finished, he invited the leavers and parents on to the Stapylton Field at the front of the School for afternoon tea in the sunshine.

The ceremony was accompanied by music performed by some of the School’s leading musicians. After vocalist and guitarist Aadarsh Khimasia entertained the audience before the ceremony started, the Trumpet Ensemble then performed the processional, Henry Purcell’s Trumpet Tune. Music award-winner saxophonist Conor Parker-Delves enjoyed his swansong as a QE musician, leading a quintet as they played a piece of his own composition, Cherry Fizz, during a musical interlude. The recessional music, played by the Saxophone Ensemble, was Karen Street’s All in Good Time, followed by Coldplay’s Paradise. The Jazz Band played while tea was served.

The ceremony also featured a thoughtful and entertaining address by the Guest of Honour, Robert Rinder, who reflected on how his own experiences at QE had contributed to his varied and successful career, calling upon the Class of 2022 to hold onto those QE values of love of learning, hard work, and service.