Founder’s Day 2022 has been acclaimed as a resounding success, with large numbers of old boys among the crowds and the entire QE community giving generously, easily outstripping the fundraising target.
The first in-person Founder’s Day since before the pandemic proved a considerable draw, with large numbers coming along to enjoy the fun and family atmosphere at the afternoon fete organised by the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s. The formal aspects of the day – which this year included a memorial service for former Headmaster Eamonn Harris (1984–1999) – also ran smoothly, as the School marked its rich traditions in style.
Founder’s Day is always the biggest fundraiser in the School calendar, and this year was no exception. As of today, total takings stand at £32,392.04, some 62 per cent higher than the £20,000 target.
Current Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It was a very happy occasion and a great celebration of the School’s 449th birthday enjoyed by all parts of our community. I was particularly pleased to see so many Old Elizabethans – more than I can remember on similar occasions in the past – returning to their School.
“My thanks go to all the boys, staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make the day a great success on this important day for the School and for FQE. I also wish to express my gratitude to everyone who donated money: once again, the Elizabethan community has done us proud!”
After the morning Thanksgiving Service in Chipping Barnet Parish Church attended by Year 7 boys, their families and staff, pupils and teachers walked to the School for the traditional Roll Call and reading of the School Chronicle (an annually updated account of QE’s history) in front of Main Building.
After that, as the fete began on Stapylton Field, the memorial service for Mr Harris commenced in The Friends’ Recital Hall, which was officially opened last month. Mr Harris died in late 2019 and the memorial service was postponed from the early days of the pandemic.
The service featured music played by pupils including pieces by Brahms and Henryk Wieniawski.
After a welcome from Mr Enright, Chairman of Governors Barrie Martin MBE read Wordsworth’s A Poet! He hath put his heart to school.
There were tributes from two teachers who worked under Mr Harris: Eric Houston, a QE teacher from 1976 who was Second Master from 1999–2010, and Dr John Marincowitz, who went on to become his successor, serving as Headmaster from 1999 until his retirement in 2011.
“It was lovely to welcome back so many former pupils and members of staff for the Eamonn Harris memorial, alongside members of Eamonn’s family and friends,” said Mr Enright. “It was fitting that the re-arranged memorial took place on Founder’s Day. The current format of bringing everyone together for reflection and celebration on the third Saturday in June was reinstated by him.”
The fete, which took the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as its theme, featured an array of food stalls, as well as attractions to suit all tastes, including Indian dancers, performances from School musicians and renditions of Shakespearean monologues from Year 8 dramatists.
The £32,392.04 total raised includes money collected at the fete, as well as sponsorship funds from the inter-House Music and The Voice concert challenge on Friday and online donations via the main Founder’s Day JustGiving page.
The afternoon also saw the playing of the Stanley Busby Memorial Cricket Match – an annual Founder’s Day fixture for Old Elizabethans and current senior pupils – on Third Field at the rear of the School.
During the morning, the guest speaker at the service was Michael Stewart CBE (OE 1978–1985) whose career has been in in national security-related jobs, with a particular focus on counter-terrorism. He is currently the Director of Prevent, one of the four pillars of the UK’s counter-terrorist strategy.
In an entertaining address, he wove together examples from popular culture, social media, the natural world, his career and the School. His theme was that “appearances can be deceiving” – but only for a short time, since the truth comes out eventually. The School may look very similar to how it did in his day as you walk up to the Main Building, he pointed out to the congregation, but it is a place transformed and so much better. He noted the crucial role Eamonn Harris had played in this.
Other VIP guests included: the Mayor of the London Borough of Barnet, Cllr Alison Moore; the Representative Deputy Lieutenant of the London Borough of Barnet, Martin Russell, and the Headteacher of Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School, Violet Walker.
Old Elizabethans present during the day spanned all generations. Among them were a group of 17 celebrating 50 years since leaving in 1972; they have been meeting up with each other on Founder’s Day since the turn of the millennium. There was also a visit from Sir Lucian Grainge (OE 1971–1978), chairman and chief executive officer of the global music company, Universal Music Group, and his brother Justin Grainge (OE 1976–81).