Headmaster Neil Enright evoked Nelson Mandela as he urged QE’s young prize-winners to embrace both optimism and persistence.
Mr Enright congratulated the award-winners and explained how they could learn from the former South African President and 1993 Nobel Peace Prize-winner, speaking on what would have been his 100th birthday.
Almost 120 prizes were awarded at the 2018 Junior Awards Ceremony to boys from Years 7–9 across a broad range of categories that included not only academic subjects, but also House prizes and awards for sport, the performing arts and service.
The Headmaster pointed out that the boys receiving awards had achieved double success, firstly by securing a place at the School (more than 2,400 boys sat last year’s entrance examination) and then by winning a prize. “You have been the best of the best in your year groups for the respective subjects, extra-curricular activities and contributions to school life for which prizes are being given. You should therefore be very proud of what you have achieved,” he said.
Just as Mr Mandela had spoken of “keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forwards”, the boys should “keep taking those forward steps” and should also be “highly, but realistically, ambitious”.
Warning pupils against “complacency and hubris”, Mr Enright added: “Being humble, modest and grounded – when coupled with hard work and an inner confidence – is a safe pathway to success, and these are characteristics happily common among QE boys.” And he alluded to Nelson’s Mandela’s axiom that “a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination”.
The guest speaker at the afternoon ceremony in the School Hall was Old Elizabethan Daniel Isenberg (1999–2006), a young barrister who studied at Cambridge and Harvard and was also Judicial Assistant to Lord Sumption and Lord Carnwath at the Supreme Court.
Other VIP guests included Chairman of Governors Barrie Martin MBE and the Mayor of the Borough of Barnet, Councillor Reuben Thompstone.
The ceremony was enhanced by music performed by the boys, including three pieces from British composers – Samba Triste from Three Piece Suite by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Promenade from Le Tombeau de Couperin by John McLeod and Hypnosis by Ian Clarke.
The final vote of thanks was given by Ugan Pretheshan, winner of the Year 7 Public Speaking Award.
Afterwards, boys and their parents enjoyed refreshments with the Headmaster, staff and guests.