Pupils past, present and even future all helped make the 2018 Queen Elizabeth’s School Founder’s Day a resounding success.
The day, a great highlight of the School’s summer calendar, included a morning church service and subsequent ceremonial proceedings, before culminating in the popular afternoon fete on Stapylton Field.
Headmaster Neil Enright said: “This was a splendid and enjoyable day and it was a great pleasure to see everyone, from boys and their families who are set to join the School in Year 7 in September right through to the Old Elizabethans spanning several generations who came along.
“Founder’s Day really brings together the whole Elizabethan family in celebration both of the School’s history and of the strength of our present community.”
The day got off to a stirring start with the School Choir’s rendition of Handel’s coronation anthem, Zadok the Priest, performed as the introit in Chipping Barnet Parish Church.
The service included hymns and Bible readings, including from the current School Captain, Aashish Khimasia, and his predecessor, Oliver Robinson, as well as the traditional Founder’s Day prayer, concluding with the petition that “our School may endure as a home of sound learning and of true godliness”.
Guest speaker for the service was Major Charles Russell (OE 1997–2004) who spoke on the theme of service, reflecting on QE’s “rich history of military service” and pointing out that 2018 marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. He went on to articulate how service to others is demonstrated throughout the Elizabethan community.
Major Russell told the congregation of boys, staff and VIPs of his experiences in 2010, when he and a fellow soldier were very seriously injured in Afghanistan, where he was serving with The Royal Gurkha Rifles. “We were on the operating table in Camp Bastion within 25 minutes of the blast, and back in Birmingham two days later.
“Although I wasn’t conscious at the time, I was visited in the intensive care unit by an Old Elizabethan – a consultant working at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital Birmingham who had been a senior prefect when I was a brand new Year 7. The note he left me: ‘To a fellow OE in the new QE hospital; don’t worry you are in the care of the very best.’ Imagine the comfort this provided me and my family – he was absolutely right – this was the cutting edge of complex trauma medicine. No surprise to find an OE at the forefront of his profession.”
Major Russell added that he had been “touched beyond words” to receive a card from the QE staff as he lay immobilised in his hospital bed. “Not only was there a card, but a parcel was delivered containing a spanking new iPad: these had just come out in the UK and were seriously hot pieces of technology then.”
Guests at the service included Major Russell’s father, Martin Russell, who is Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Barnet. Also in the congregation were: the Mayor of Barnet, Cllr Reuben Thompstone; local MP Theresa Villiers and Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School Headteacher Violet Walker, as well as QE governors, former members of staff, parents and boys.
After the service, the day continued, in accordance with cherished QE tradition, with the roll call and the reading of the School Chronicle in front of the main building.
Then it was time for the fete, organised by the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s, to get into full swing, to the accompaniment of the School Concert Band. Among the many stalls, activities and attractions, the International Food Tent proved as popular as ever – takings for the Sri Lankan curry alone reportedly topped £4,000! These sales helped the FQE raise a total sum for the day provisionally put at around £21,000.
The afternoon also saw the annual Stanley Busby Memorial Cricket Match between old boys of the School and the current First XI. Played on the Third Field at the rear of the School, it was this year won by the pupils after a close encounter with a strong team of OEs.
A good many other Old Elizabethans attended the formal aspects of the day, the fete and the cricket, with some having travelled a considerable distance in order to be there.