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George the Poet makes history with nomination for top international media award

Old Elizabethan George Mpanga’s podcast has been nominated for a Peabody Award – one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious media prizes.

Have You Heard George’s podcast?, which last year swept the board at the British Podcast Awards, is the first British podcast ever to receive a nomination for a Peabody Award, a prize which recognises excellence in storytelling in broadcasting and digital media.

News of the nomination comes as George (OE 2002–2009) continues to garner media attention for his work during the Covid-19 crisis. Having introduced BBC Television’s coverage of the global One World: Together at Home concert last month, George has now spoken of his own lockdown experiences on BBC Radio Four’s World at One programme.

Interviewed by presenter Sarah Montague, George was on buoyant form, mentioning school twice as he set out how stimulating his time during lockdown has been and how the “group prayer sessions” set up by his mother were helping his family stay in touch with each other.

He explained that, whereas if he were to speak of his time at school, that would necessarily exclude some people, the current crisis was affecting everyone and was therefore creating a “common language” to which all could relate.

George then read out the first poem that he wrote about the coronavirus, which examines the opportunity for creativity as we are forced “indoors with our phones beside us – literally left to our own devices”.

The poem continues: “We are internationally connected and this brings us closer, as can be expected. That is why I am still in touch with my old schoolteachers: human beings are social creatures.”

Asked in conclusion if there was a sense in which, notwithstanding the terrible consequences of the pandemic for many, he was in some sense enjoying the lockdown experience, George concurred: “I do try and squeeze all the enjoyment I can out of life’s challenges: I think that has been the basis of my career.”

Have you heard George’s podcast? includes a mix of storytelling, music and fiction, with an original score by collaborator Benbrick (the songwriter, producer and composer also known as Paul Carter). George has explored themes and issues including education for disadvantaged young people, the Grenfell Tower fire, the Libyan slave trade and his personal relationship with Uganda and Britain.

Commissioned by the BBC, two chapters are currently available to listen to on BBC Sounds, with the third coming later this year. On receiving news of the nomination, George said: “It says a lot that the Peabody Awards have endorsed our podcast with a nomination – it’s the most experimental, creative thing we’ve ever done. People work their whole lives for this recognition, and we’re blessed to receive it so early – especially as the first British podcast nominee ever!

“We’re deeply grateful for every single listener who has brought us to this point, and honoured to be in the company of so many greats from across the media. Thank you to Benbrick, my team and the amazing people at BBC Sounds. If I sound like we’ve already won, it’s because this nomination is a victory.”

Out of nearly 1,300 entries, George’s podcast was one of the 60 that were nominated by a unanimous vote of the board of jurors. Thirty of the nominees will be announced as winners at a later date. The Peabody Awards, which were first awarded in the 1940s, were named after American businessman and philanthropist George Peabody.

Out of the limelight: as stars shine in global fund-raising concert, George the Poet urges UK audience to honour key workers, too

Old Elizabethan George the Poet played to an audience of many millions when he opened BBC One’s coverage of last night’s One World: Together at Home concert.

George Mpanga (OE 2002–2009) performed a two-minute poem, Our Key Workers, paying tribute to those working for the NHS “like my mum” and other key workers who are keeping the country going during the pandemic lockdown.

Global Citizen, co-organisers of the eight-hour globally streamed benefit concert with the World Health Organization, today announced that the show raised £$128m (£102m) for coronavirus relief efforts.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “As ever, George’s words were both thoughtful and inspiring, his striking turn of phrase perfectly capturing the sacrifices being made by front-line workers and expressing back to them the nation’s gratitude.”

The concert, curated by Lady Gaga, featured global music stars performing in intimate settings as they self-isolate at home. They included the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Billie Eilish.

Songs were interspersed with messages from actors such as Matthew McConaughey and Lupita Nyong’o, as well as world figures, including Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

George’s poem refers to a wide variety of people in key roles, including not only health workers but also bus drivers, teachers, cleaners, carers and those in waste management. Several of these jobs and those of other key-worker roles are depicted in George’s video, which also shows deserted city streets.

With the refrain “People are doing what needs to be done, But this fight won’t be easily won”, the poem appeals to the public to abide by the current restrictions: “We need to help the cause, By keeping ourselves indoors.”

He mentions his friend “Anoop” – believed to be Anoop Raghavan (OE 2002-2008). He is one of huge number of Old Elizabethans in key-worker roles playing a critical role in fighting the pandemic locally, nationally and internationally.

The poem concludes: “Every one of us was given a unique purpose, so let’s honour the service of our key workers.”

Peak performance! Old boy Kam working online to help current QE boys give of their best

Sixty-five senior QE boys have enrolled on a coaching programme run by alumnus Kam Taj.

Kam (Kamran Tajbaksh, OE 2004–2011), a performance coach, inspirational speaker and author, will help the pupils through an online course supported by more than 100 videos and activities.

After taking a first in the Manufacturing Engineering tripos at Churchill College, Cambridge, Kam secured a job as a management consultant with a global firm. However, he had begun doing performance coaching work while still at university, and in 2016 left the consultancy world to concentrate fully on coaching and motivational speaking.

Thanking Headmaster Neil Enright and Assistant Head Michael Feven (Pupil Development) for their support, Kam said: “QE is consistently named as one of the best schools in the UK, and I’m confident that this course will be an asset to the students’ academic and personal development, especially during these uncertain times.”

Kam is, in fact, a regular visitor to QE. In recent years, he has led a motivational skills workshop for Year 12 boys and helps pupils with their Oxbridge preparations.

Mr Enright said: “I am pleased that so many of our boys are taking advantage of Kam’s expertise by signing up for his Exam Success Academy online programme. Kam is both an Elizabethan and a very gifted performance coach, and although there are, of course, no public examinations this year, I am sure that the principles the boys will learn on the course will stand them in good stead for the future.”

The programme focuses on eight principles: time management; mindset management; study tools & techniques; on-the-day performance; academic & personal support groups; sleep optimisation; physical activity & movement, and nutrition & hydration.

Kam had been due to visit the School last month to talk to Year 12 on Student Life at Oxbridge (discussing topics ranging from choosing a college, the academic intensity of Oxbridge, student life beyond academic matters, and common traps that students fall into in their first year), but the visit had to be shelved because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

It would have followed three workshops held earlier in the Spring Term and run by Mr Feven, as well as Head of Year 12 Helen Davies and Head of English Robert Hyland (both Oxford graduates), that were focused on providing Year 12 boys with advice on applying to Oxbridge. The workshops take place each year, although Kam’s talk was to have been a new addition to this programme.

Medic honoured for his work to help solve hospitals’ logistics issues takes on NHS’s huge Covid-19 challenge

Surgeon and former School Captain Ash Kalraiya is one of only 11 Fellows appointed for 2020 to the prestigious NHS Innovation Accelerator. The honour recognises his work as founder and CEO of MediShout – a company dedicated to helping hospitals solve their logistics problems.

While celebrating news of the fellowship, Ash (OE 1997-2004; School Captain 2003) has in recent weeks turned MediShout’s attention towards helping to meet the huge challenge posed to the NHS by the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We have currently adapted our platform so hospitals and GP practices can report all Covid-19-related issues, such as not enough PPE [Personal Protective Equipment], a need for more stock or equipment and issues with new patterns of working.

“We just had 150 GP practices ask to sign up and several NHS Trusts, so it’s super-busy as you can imagine! However, we’ve managed to improve things for hospitals using our technology so far, which is nice to know.”

After leaving QE, Ash read Medicine at Imperial College London from 2004-2010, also completing a BSc in Management at Imperial as part of his studies.

Currently an Orthopaedic Registrar with NHS North West London, Ash says: “I’ve worked in the NHS over the past decade, and during that time realised my biggest frustrations were when logistical issues (like missing stock, or broken equipment, printers not working etc) delayed me every day and meant I had less time to spend with patients.”

MediShout’s website recounts that a particular turning point for Ash came when several of his operations had to be cancelled one morning because a lightbulb in theatre was broken. Even more frustratingly, several members of staff had known of the problem, but not reported it.

“The NHS has actually seen a 32% increase in cancelled operations due to equipment issues, so it’s a huge, neglected problem,” he says. “So, I created a solution called MediShout: an app for staff to instantly report such issues to the person or team who creates change.”

The MediShout app and platform uses cloud-based technology to connect people, helpdesks, smartphones, tablets, IT systems and RFID tagging. NHS staff use the app to make instantaneous reports of any logistical issue that threatens to hamper them in their work, and the system’s algorithms then ensure this information gets to the right people.

Furthermore, the combination of big data and artificial intelligence means that Medishout can “predict problems before they even happen,” Ash adds, thus driving long-term improvements, in addition to identifying the issues most affecting patient care so that these can be fixed first.

The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA), now in its fifth year, is an NHS England initiative delivered in partnership with England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). It recognises and supports those offering high-impact solutions supporting the priority areas for the NHS in England, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.

The NIA’s recognition, which is both for him as a Fellow and for MediShout, follows several years’ hard work in building up the business. “We started to get some traction with quite a few hospitals, so got accepted to the quite competitive NHS Innovation Accelerator. It is a huge honour to be accepted as one of the Fellows,” he says.

The NIA’s rigorous selection process includes review by over 100 clinical, patient and commercial assessors, an informal review by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), interviews, and due diligence.

Concerned about the impact that the cancellation of this year’s A-level examinations might have on current QE boys, Ash has been in touch with the School to offer them his encouragement.

“Journeys to success are long, usually a lifetime. So, A-levels are a stepping stone, not the final destination,” he points out, adding that not having the desired A-level grades on their CV will not stop boys from fulfilling their big ambitions in life. “It’s ok not to succeed every time. It took me five years to get into the QE rugby A team. I failed my first-year exams at medical school. I failed both my surgical exams first time. I’m pretty happy with my journey, as failing and learning is what pushed me to keep going!”

Ash keeps in close touch with old QE friends. “My funniest and most active WhatsApp group is with friends from my year – Joe Besser, Mat Houghton, Anil Haldar, Ed Hughes, Gideon Adler, and Deepon Sen Gupta (he didn’t actually go to QE, but most people assumed he did!).

“Joe is in Australia and visiting him in 2015 is when I met my now wife, Sonal Lodhia, who moved to London. It’s a funny old world but I can indirectly thank him, that I’m being well fed during this Covid-19 lockdown!”

“For me, drawing is a reflective process…ambiguous, fragmented and surreal”

King’s College undergraduate Danny Martin has had his art exhibited in Cambridge for the first time – and now some of his drawings are on display at the Japanese embassy in London after being shortlisted in a manga-drawing competition.

Danny’s work was displayed in the Art rooms at King’s, overlooking the famous chapel, in an exhibition he entitled Full House.

Danny is in his third year at Cambridge, reading Architecture.

His comic strip, Balanced World, was shortlisted and then came eighth overall in Manga Jiman 2019. Manga Jiman is a long-running annual manga-drawing competition run by the Japanese embassy. (Manga are Japanese comics, sometimes called whimsical drawings, typically, but not exclusively in monochrome).

Balanced World is on display as part of an exhibition this month at the embassy on Piccadilly opposite Green Park, following a prizegiving ceremony last week, which Danny attended.

Danny describes it as “a unique take on the creation story where two God-like characters that represent nature’s opposites work together to create a world from scratch”.

In his notes for the exhibition at Cambridge, Danny wrote: “For me, drawing is a reflective process, much like writing a diary. Unlike a diary, however, the output here is far more ambiguous, fragmented and, quite frankly, surreal.

“Impenetrable plumes of visuals erupt out of a subconscious that simply can’t make up its mind.

“The pieces sweat out characters in an attempt to hide their true meanings and ink blotches desecrate and abolish any once-legible text.

“I present to you Full House, one man’s fantasia that, like real life, has not enough facts, too many villains and a ubiquitous sense of the unknowing.

“Let curiosity be your guide.”

Danny returned to Queen Elizabeth’s School last year to judge a Year 10 architectural modelling competition run by the Art department as part of QE’s Enrichment Week.

  • This story was updated on 21st February 2020 with fresh images and additional information about Balanced World. Click on the thumbnails below to view Balanced World.
One to watch! Magazine shines its spotlight on Abbas as a future leader

Abbas Adejonwo is in the spotlight after being named one of the UK’s most outstanding African and African-Caribbean students.

Abbas (OE 2011-2018), who is at Warwick, was named among the top 100 in the current issue of Future Leaders magazine after impressing the selectors with his academic record and his work for the university’s African & Caribbean Society (ACS).

Now he has been profiled on LinkedIn and on social media by the magazine. An annual publication sponsored by HSBC UK bank and Oxford University, Future Leaders is aimed at students in sixth forms, colleges and universities, and highlights role models such as Abbas to inspire young people and raise attainment.

To feature, candidates must first be nominated, or nominate themselves. Those shortlisted are invited in for interview at the magazine’s offices and then the final 100 are selected.

They must be in UK university education with a grade average of 60 per cent or above, or undertaking a post-graduate degree. They must also have at least 300 UCAS points.

In addition, the magazine’s website states: “They must be doing something exceptional outside of their studies which marks them out as a person of distinction, be it running a successful business, mentoring younger students, doing something outstanding in their community or anything else in that vein.”

Abbas is reading German and Economics in his second year at Warwick. Future Leaders’ profile on him states: “As Freshers’ Rep for Warwick ACS, Abbas was a bridge between the students and the executive team, which involved running focus groups where students could give anonymous feedback on the running of the society.

“Abbas played a key role in the society’s first-ever Insight Day. The idea was to reach out to schools and invite BAME [black and minority ethnic] students for taster sessions. Abbas was tasked with contacting London secondaries and also leading an economics workshop for pupils. The events brought in 150 students and won hugely positive feedback.”

“Recently appointed ACS vice-president, Abbas is closely involved with the organisation of 2020’s AfroFest, the annual ACS cultural showcase.”

The profile also mentioned Abbas’s sporting prowess, recognised when he was at QE: “A keen long and triple jumper, Abbas was Jumps Captain for his secondary school athletics team and has regularly filled in for the current captain at Warwick. This involves leading sessions with the jumps team.”

Asked where he saw himself in ten years, Abbas told the magazine: “I’d like to go to Nigeria or Tanzania and work for a development bank, or to own a company micro-financing smaller businesses.”

Speaking to QE, Abbas said how honoured he was to be selected among the top 100. He also gave details of two additional recent achievements:

  • “I’ve designed, introduced, and organised a personal statement scheme which has helped over 70 students of African and Caribbean heritage applying to Warwick.” This involved bringing together a network of 50 volunteers drawn from ACS members. “So far, we are aware of 40 people receiving offers for their desired courses.”
  • “I played a role in organising and directing a showcase which is being nominated for the Warwick Students’ Union Best Event of the Year 2019-2020.”

From 2018-2019, Abbas took an Introduction to FinTech (financial technology) Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with the University of Hong Kong. He is now a member of Warwick’s Trading Society and its Finance Society.

Having achieved grade 8 horn and grade 8 violin while still at QE, Abbas is also a member of the university’s Brass Society, playing with the Brass Band and Symphonic Brass ensemble.

In his spare time, Abbas is a volunteer with Parkrun, undertaking tasks such as marshalling on the weekends when he is not doing the 5km run himself.

Living the dream: Dhruv reflects on winning award in New Year’s Honours

Old Elizabethan and City lawyer Dhruv Chhatralia has been giving his reaction after receiving a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

An international mergers and acquisitions lawyer with global law firm Gowling WLG, Dhruv (OE 1996-2003) is also a regular speaker on the benefits of yoga and the importance of strong mental health. He is the author of 21 books on Hinduism and has given more than 325 public talks totalling over 350 hours on spirituality.

After receiving the BEM ‘for services to Hinduism and to developing young people’, he has spoken  of his surprise at being nominated for the award and of the importance of maintaining mental wellness in order to successfully manage the challenges of the modern world.

In a statement published by his firm, Dhruv said: “I was honoured to find out that I had been nominated for this award; it was completely unexpected.

“The importance of wellbeing and taking care of your mental health can’t be underestimated, and it’s a privilege to work with young people and professionals, many in high-pressure roles, to help them find practical solutions for mental wellness. It’s certainly helped me in my own role as a lawyer.”

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My warm congratulations go to Dhruv on this notable achievement. We try to inspire in our boys the value of working for the good of others and are always keen to celebrate those in the School community who embody this. It is therefore a great pleasure to hear about Dhruv’s own very telling contribution.”

After leaving QE, Dhruv went to Kings College London to read Law and then trained at the BPP Law School.

His achievements include:

  • Writing the longest-ever English commentaries on the great Indian works, the Bhagavad Gita, the Hanuman Chalisa and the Shree Suktam, between them comprising more than 3,467 pages. All the proceeds from these books went to charity.
  • Creating a programme of more than 180 Bhagavad Gita, Hanuman Chalisa and Shree Suktam classes in English to educate young people about the Indian scriptures.
  • Speaking on Hinduism to the British Army and at the House of Commons, House of Lords, Home Office, Ministry of Defence and Metropolitan Police, as well as at many major companies and at community halls around the UK.
  • Conducting a live yoga session in the City of London that was televised nationally by the BBC.

“I am honoured and humbled to receive this recognition from the Queen,” he said. “My dream has been to make these enriching Dharmic teachings available to everyone in English without any costs, travel, commitments or other obstacles. I hope that this recognition inspires many young Indians to take up volunteering service to the community in order to preserve, protect and promote this beautiful wisdom.

“I bow down to Shree Krishna for blessing me on this wonderful journey and for moulding my character through His teachings in the Bhagavad Gita. I would like to thank my parents for bringing me up with Dharmic values and for instilling in me the qualities of hard work, selflessness and service towards other people. I also offer my obediences to my Gurus and the entire Indian Guru tradition for inspiring me with the teachings of the great Indian scriptures.”

‘Casting new light on pivotal historical moments’: prestigious European prize for OE filmmaker and academic

Dr Frederick Baker has won a major EU cultural award for an innovative, large-scale digital project telling the story of the run-up to the 1938 Nazi annexation of Austria, the so-called Anschluss.

He led a team of filmmakers, historians and programmers involved in the project, which reached thousands of users via the internet, radio, television, and mobile phones, as well as through analogue media such as postcards, lectures, and print. In addition, it was the first digital exhibition on the website of the new Austrian Museum of History in Vienna.

And, in a move of political significance marking the 80th anniversary of the events, the work was projected on to the walls of the current-day Chancellery on the Ballhausplatz in the centre of Vienna in a presentation that included films, photographs and sound recording. During the annexation, this building was the scene of a power struggle between the local Nazis (following orders from Berlin) and the last Austrian President.

“The work is called the History Radar ‘Zeituhr 1938’ and is a web platform describing the key 24 hours in the Nazi invasion of Austria in 1938,” said Fred (OE 1976-1983), who added that the Chancellery was the Austrian “equivalent of Number 10 Downing Street”.

Born in Salzburg but brought up in London, Fred studied Anthropology and Archaeology at St John’s College, Cambridge, Tübingen and Sheffield universities and went on to gain a PhD from Cambridge in 2009. He was a Producer Director for the BBC, working for the corporation from 1994 to 2006. He is the owner of the Austrian film company, Filmbäckerei, and a College Research Association at the Centre for Film and Screen Media, Wolfson College, Cambridge.

Following the success of the project during the 80th anniversary period last year, it was announced this year that it had won the European Heritage Award/Europa Nostra Award in the Education, Training and Awareness-Raising category. The project was one of only seven to be named as one of the awards’ Grand Prix.

Fred received his award and a cheque for €10,000 from Placido Domingo, President of Europa Nostra, and Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, who co-hosted the recent major awards ceremony.

In his acceptance speech, Fred said: “This [project] was 100 per cent Austrian-funded…and I think that says something for the right side of Austria and the correct side of Austria and those who… stood up and are the winners in the end. Thank you very much for this really amazing prize which will help us a lot to carry on and give us support in difficult times.”

In their citation, the awards jury praised the project’s “impressively designed, interactive, web-portal that enhances the user experience and which is especially attractive for young users.

“This project has used innovative media to cast new light on pivotal historical moments in which crucial political decisions were taken. Curiosity was the driving force that provoked this historical storytelling, evoking the collective memory of eyewitnesses. The project’s pioneering technology allows for the constructive mediation of historical events.”

“This innovative approach enables a more nuanced understanding of individual responsibilities in securing democracy and the common values of society. It expresses the dangers of organised propaganda, which, in combination with a compliant media system, can encroach on democratic values and foster unfounded cultural and social bias,” the jury stated.

In a speech at the awards ceremony, Guillaume Poitrinal, President of Fondation du Patrimoine (France’s Heritage Foundation) highlighted the significance of the event: “We all believe here that Europe is not just about economics, Europe is not just about a single currency, Europe is not just about a common market: Europe is also about a common culture.”

The History Radar ‘Zeituhr 1938’ project was produced by Filmbäckerei, in co-operation with Dr Heidemarie Uhl, Dr Michaela Raggam-Blesch, Dr Eva Gressel and Pauli Aro at the Academy of Sciences in Vienna, with digital engineering by Thomas Prieler (Web-Tech) Christoph Kovacs/ Gernot Huber (Sensotix) and design Raimund Schumacher (Lost in the Garden).

Funding came from the Memorial Year 2018 fund of the Austrian Federal Chancellery, the Austrian National Fund of the Victims of Fascism, Austrian Future Funds, City of Vienna Student Research Scholarship funds, the Academy of Sciences and the Haus der Geschichte Österreich.

Fred is the winner of numerous awards – including a previous Europa Nostra Award for work done with Cambridge University – and is renowned for his work as a pioneer of immersive reality. A virtual reality experience based on the work of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt last year proved immensely popular with experts and the public alike. Having first won a Silver Medal for Cinematic Virtual Reality at the European Virtual Reality Halo Awards in Amsterdam, its run at Vienna’s MAK (Museum of Applied Arts) was extended by nearly six months and it was then staged at the Palais des Beaux-Arts (also known as BOZAR) in Brussels.

Inspiration and insights at Careers Convention as boys develop the skills they need to reach their goals

There was standing room only in several of the expert talks delivered as part of the 2019 Year 11 Careers Convention.

The convention – a major event in the QE calendar – this year featured an increased number of talks. The speakers for these were among representatives of 35 companies and organisations attending in total, including Old Elizabethans and other visitors.

They came from professions ranging from medicine to app development, and from chemical engineering to the law.

All gave their time to meet boys and their families as Year 11 start to consider their future career paths.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It was another tremendous evening. I am grateful to all those who helped our current pupils in this way, whether old boys or other friends of the School. The boys benefit immeasurably from the advice that they receive, not least because seeing alumni thriving in their various careers is in itself a source of inspiration and confidence to them.

“At this stage in their education, it is as important for the boys to develop the soft skills they will need when planning for life after school – in order that they can actually achieve their desired outcomes – as it is to provide insight into the many different options available to them.”

The main Careers Convention was held in the Shearly Hall, while the nine talks – several of which were repeated three times during the course of the evening – were delivered in classrooms. The talks included:

• Dental surgeon Dr Nirmal Wilwaraarachchi (OE 1996-2002) on dentistry
• Joseph Vinson (OE 2007-2013), an Associate Product Manager for US software firm, Granicus, on Getting a job in Tech
• Ramesh Pari (OE 1997-2004), who took up a senior role in engineering for online grocery company, Ocado, after more then a decade as an architect, on Architecture and its transferable skills.

Other talks were on general topics such as studying abroad and about choosing and progressing a career, such as the presentation by Kam Taj (OE 2004–2011) on How to find your ideal career.

The evening also benefited from experts attending from organisations with which the School has strong partnerships, such as the National Citizen Service (whose summer programme is always popular with Year 11 boys), the STEM Ambassadors programme and the RAF.

Alumni had a chance to catch up with each other at a reception hosted by the School before the event.

Celebrating the past, looking to the future: Old Elizabethans Association Dinner 2019

Former pupils from across the generations turned out in force for the annual Old Elizabethans Association Dinner, enjoying the opportunity to celebrate with fellow alumni, rekindling past friendships and forging new ones.

During an evening marked by much convivial chatter and by lively speeches, the diners also observed a silence in memory of former Headmaster Eamonn Harris, one of the great figures in the School’s recent history, who passed away only a few days before the dinner.

The celebratory tone was amplified by a good attendance from the ‘ten-year leavers’ – the class of 2009–2010 – while older Elizabethans present included Brian Gilbert, returning to the School after a gap of 50 years.

The event in the Main Hall was the first dinner to be hosted by the new President of the Old Elizabethans Association, Eric Houston, who taught at the School from 1976 until he retired, as Second Master, in 2010. Mr Houston is both a Governor and a Foundation Trustee of the School.

Another change this year was the reading at the dinner of the Queen Elizabeth’s School Prayer before grace was said. (The prayer is appended below.)

In his speech, Headmaster Neil Enright paid fulsome tribute to Mr Harris (HM 1984–1999): “Few can have had such a profound, transformational and lasting impact on Queen Elizabeth’s as Eamonn Harris, without whom we, quite simply, may well not be sitting here this evening.

“His bold decision-making, in making the School independent of the local education authority and then restoring academic selection, and the high expectations he had for all in the School community are the bedrocks of our present pre-eminence. We all owe him a debt of great respect and gratitude.”

Mr Enright reported on significant developments during the year, including “the exciting news that we have secured £2.2m of government funding…for our new Music School”.

To prepare the site, the Mayes Building was demolished during the summer. This facility was named in honour of Harry ‘Curly’ Mayes who “spent a full 60 years (from 1902 to 1962) as butler, porter, steward and then caretaker”.

Alluding both to Mr Harris and to Mr Mayes, the Headmaster said: “The present fortunes of the School have been built upon the foundations of the great service given by so many.”

Mr Enright gave a warm, if piquant, welcome to the many ten-year leavers at table, pointing out that Assistant Head David Ryan had described this particular group “as his most challenging in all his years in the Sixth Form”!

“I’m not, though, surprised to see a good turnout, as they have actually proved to be one of the more actively engaged alumni cohorts and are doing lots of good work in support of the School,” he added.

“They were, and remain (on this evening’s evidence), a very sociable and enthusiastic group and it is always a great pleasure to have them here at School events.”

He reported on the start of a project to digitise QE’s archives, beginning with photographs.

And, he said, with the School’s 450th anniversary in 2023 approaching, his predecessor as Headmaster, Dr John Marincowitz (1999–2011), was well on the way to completing his book on the School’s history.

“Recording and giving access to the School’s history is important so that the contributions of people such as Eamonn and Curly Mayes are remembered and so that generations of Elizabethans to come are able to learn about their place in the long and fascinating narrative.”

Mr Enright concluded his speech with a report on QE Connect, the School’s recently launched online community for alumni, which has gained more than 450 members in the space of just a few weeks.

“Whilst we want to help OEs connect to the past, we also have QE Connect to help enable connections in the present and the future,” he said.

The School Prayer

O Lord God, the Maker and Builder of every house not made with hands, we give thee thanks for this School in which we have our share.

Give thy blessing, we beseech thee, to all this our body, to the Head Master, to the members of the staff, to the boys, and to those who minister our needs.

Inspire us, O Lord, so to do our work today that, even as we are being helped by the remembrance of the loyal lives of those who came before us, so our faithfulness in thy service may aid those who shall take our places.

Remember, O Lord, for good, all who have gone forth from this School, to labour elsewhere in thy kingdom.

Grant that both they, and we, may fulfil thy purpose for us in this life, and finally may attain thine everlasting kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord.