Coronavirus restrictions may have forced major changes to QE’s normal Christmas arrangements, but there was festive spirit aplenty in the final week of the Autumn Term.
Boys and staff enjoyed tucking into a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings. Year 7 boys enjoyed an adapted version of the carol service, held this year at the School, instead of at the parish church.
And QE’s commitment to service and the community was not forgotten: the normal Christmas collections for charity went ahead, with parents, boys and staff giving generously to support local people in need.
Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations and thanks go to everyone who has worked hard to ensure that, Covid-19 notwithstanding, the final week of term was as festive as ever. I wish everyone in our Elizabethan community a restful Christmas holiday at the end of this difficult year, and a healthy and happy 2021.”
In normal years, QE’s Service of Lessons and Carols takes place in St John the Baptist Church in Barnet, with a congregation including staff and all the Year 7 boys, as well as musicians and readers drawn from other year groups.
That was not possible this year, so QE brought the church to the School instead! Last week, a small group of senior musicians went to St John’s to pre-record two anthems.
These were then played between the carols, readings and antiphon performed live in this week’s Carol Service for the Year 7 year-group bubble.
“This gave our Year 13 boys a chance to sing at St John’s, and our Year 7s got to see what the church is like – on video at least,” the Headmaster said. “Hearing the carols ringing out from the Main School Hall lent a wonderfully festive atmosphere to the School, and our Year 7s savoured the opportunity to become part of this well-loved QE tradition.”
Readers included senior staff and 2020 School Captain Ivin Jose, with the Headmaster as usual giving the final Scripture reading, the famous prologue to John’s gospel.
The video segments featured the Year 13 Choir singing The First Nowell and Holst’s arrangement of the carol, Personent Hodie, from the Piae Cantiones collection of mediaeval songs.
The service also included performances of the popular traditional carols: Once in Royal David’s City; O Little Town of Bethlehem; O Come all ye Faithful, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing!
The Year 7 boys were mostly seated in the main floor area.
Social distancing was carefully observed: readings were given from the stage, while the musicians from other year groups – the choir, trumpeters and Year 12 Strings – were well spread.
Earlier in the week, pupils relished their Christmas lunch, with the catering team pulling out all the stops to serve up a festive feast of roast turkey or wild mushroom filo pastry crown, with pigs-in-blankets, stuffing, carrots, Brussel sprouts, parsnips, cranberry jelly and gravy, followed by Christmas pudding or yule log.
QE also continued with its annual collection for local charitable organisations, choosing this year to support Homeless Action in Barnet and Hornsey Parish Church, which is acting as a foodbank hub.
Parents, pupils and staff have been donating non-perishable food items, clothing and blankets over recent weeks, and yesterday a group of Year 9 volunteers helped to load a record number of bags into a QE minibus, ready for delivery.
Head of Extra-Curricular Enrichment Rebecca Grundy said: “We are very grateful to everyone who donated, and to our prefects and Year 9 helpers.
“This support will make a huge difference to vulnerable people this Christmas.”