With pandemic restrictions forcing the School’s Founder’s Day activities to move online for the second consecutive year, QE’s Year 7 learned about the day’s rich history and traditions in a specially tailored afternoon.
The School’s youngest pupils would normally be at the very heart of Founder’s Day, with all joining the morning service at Chipping Barnet Parish Church and then taking part in other formal elements – such as the Roll Call and the Reading of the School Chronicle – before enjoying the fun of the afternoon fete.
Head of Year 7 Thomas Harrison began by explaining to the year group ‘bubble’ why Founder’s Day – taking place virtually this year on Saturday 19th June – is such an important fixture in the School calendar.
“On Founder’s Day, we remember and celebrate the foundation of our School – now some 448 years ago – and the long and winding history that has led us to where we are today,” Mr Harrison said.
“We are thankful to all those who have worked to build and re-shape our School – those who have laid the foundations for the education and workplace that we enjoy today.
“Those who held steadfast in difficult times, as we’ve all had to do over the past year, and those who made bold decisions in the long-term interests of our Elizabethan community.”
The event that followed borrowed elements of the service of thanksgiving, beginning with the playing of a traditional Founder’s Day hymn, For All the Saints, which had been pre-recorded in the church by the specially formed Founder’s Day Chamber Choir.
The afternoon featured contributions from no fewer than three School Captains.
- 2020 School Captain Ivin Jose, of Year 13, gave a Bible reading from the Book of Proverbs
- The current holder of the office, Siddhant Kansal, of Year 12, read Charlotte Bronte’s poem, Life
- The 2008 School Captain, Matthew Rose (OE 2002–2009), who now works at his alma mater as Executive Assistant to the Headmaster and Head of Project Support Services, was the guest speaker.
Introducing Mr Rose, Mr Harrison told the boys that he was reprising his role as the youngest-ever Founder’s Day guest speaker in 2011.
In his speech, Mr Rose reflected on the varying effect of the pandemic on his audience – “Some in this room may have lost people close to them.” He spoke of the impact of a bereavement he suffered while at the School and how the experience of surmounting that “hurdle” had shaped him.
The boys had faced the challenge of joining QE – “arguably the best school in the country” – during a pandemic, but they had a responsibility to press ahead. “So, keep going, keep learning from your experiences and keep hurdling,” he concluded.
The afternoon included a musical interlude from Year 12’s Raphael Herberg, Aadarsh Khimasia and Alex Woodcock performing Trois Aquarelles II by Gaubert.
Year 7 Aniston Lakshman read the Founder’s Day prayer, while Year 7 form tutor Andrew Collins read the School Prayer, with its petition of “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 may aid those who shall take our places.”
Headmaster Neil Enright then fulfilled another time-honoured Founder’s Day practice: the reading of the School Chronicle. This charts QE’s history, starting in 1568, when one of the School’s early promoters, Edward Underne, became rector of Chipping Barnet.
The Chronicle has been brought up to date with a new stanza beginning: “And be it known that during the Covid-19 pandemic, which twice caused all the schools in the land to close their doors to most pupils, the challenges were faced with ingenuity and resolve.”
After the Chamber Choir’s recorded rendition of the National Anthem, the boys processed in silence to the Stapylton Field for the Roll Call, which they had practised before half-term. It was read by the School Captain, with each House Captain replying: “Ad sumus” (“Here we are.”)