Arctic adventure was the theme of this year’s Brooke Weston Prize Giving as polar athlete Ben Saunders was guest of honour, speaking to an audience comprising hundreds of Brooke Weston’s students, parents, trustees and governors.
The evening started with an introduction by Principal Trish Stringer who reflected on the many achievements of students and staff during the 2010/2011 academic year. A 15-minute video illustrated the huge range of activities undertaken.
Mr Saunders then gave an informative and entertaining talk in which he described his arduous solo trip to the North Pole: ‘It took me nearly ten weeks to get there with a few pretty close shaves on the way. It was without doubt the most challenging experience I have ever been through, both physically and mentally.
‘If I have learned anything it is that we all have enormous innate potential as human beings and so many of us go through life just scratching the surface, just doing two, three or four per cent of what we are genuinely capable of achieving. Life is short and it is there to be lived. With enough determination, self-belief and the right people supporting you along the way, anything is possible.’
Hundreds of students were recognised for their hard work with prizes given for both subject and ‘Student of the Year’ categories with Samantha Bristow, William Snaith and Harriet Woodward awarded the titles for Years 7, 8 and 9 respectively while Eleanor Robinson and Tristan Macro picked up the same awards for Years 10 and 12.
A total of 22 students were acknowledged for their success at GCSE level while 21 former Year 13 students received the same recognition for their exceptional A Level results.
Crest Bronze Awards were given to Jonah Bentley, Matthew Donaldson and Conor Judge for a design technology project that pitted them against 54 teams from 24 other county schools. Matthew Atkin, Sebastian Keightley, Tristan Macro and Adrian Matthew spent over 100 hours each on a project for the Engineering Education scheme earning Crest Gold Awards.
Six special awards were also given to those who had contributed in a specific area of school life:
The Terence McMahon Memorial Award went to Joanna Newton for her ‘professionalism, dedication and commitment’ to her music and dance studies.
HSBC Business Student of the Year was Lauren Gibson. She was praised for ‘true entrepreneurial flair in both her business lessons and beyond the classroom.’
The Rodgers Sports Person of the Year was named as Niamh Bailey. She has been ‘an incredible all-round athlete with outstanding ability.’
Jamie Anderson received the Jack Cheatley Memorial Award for his ‘determination and cheerful disposition.’
The OCR Outstanding Student Award, and a laptop was given to Amy Rainbow who attained an incredible 15A* or A grades at GCSE.
The Outstanding Achievement Award was won by Tom Hoier who gained the best-ever A Level results recorded in Brooke Weston’s 20-year history. Miss Stringer said: ‘He has a limitless capacity for hard work and an irrepressible sense of humour. He sets his sights high and doesn’t even tolerate or accept the possibility that he might fail. He is an incredible young man.’
To mark his exceptional achievement, Tom, who is now studying chemical engineering and natural sciences at Pembroke College, Cambridge, was also presented with the first-ever Founders' Award by trustee Mr Alexander de Capell Brooke.
The evening was punctuated with entertainment from dancer Megan McClymont, the Brooke Weston Senior Girls Chamber Choir and Joanna Newton and George Robinson who played flute and piano respectively.
Sir Peter Simpson, Chief Executive of the Brooke Weston Partnership paid tribute to the founding trustees: ‘It was Hugh de Capell Brooke’s vision that brought this school to this town. It was supported by Garry Weston and George, his son, who is now Chair of our Trustees. It was a school borne in the belief that ... our students simply deserve a better deal. It is that sense of purpose that drives us on …The success of this school has its origins with the trustees and continues under the excellent leadership of Trish and a superb staff. It is the achievement of these students that gives us the credibility to go on and help more.’
Professor Trevor Kerry, the Chair of Governors congratulated the students, thanked their parents for their support and the staff for its ‘superb teaching’. He reflected on the quote by Robert Louis Stevenson: ‘To travel hopefully is better than to arrive. True success is to labour’ and told the students: ‘That is a good message to take away at this critical moment in your lives.’
Many thanks to all who contributed to the success of Prize Giving. To Mrs Childs and Mrs Cheatley for their organisational skills, the audio visual department, particularly Mr Jackson who compiled the video and Miss Duguid who did the voiceover. Also to Partnership Catering and Parents in Partnership for the refreshments; not forgetting the art department who provided the displays, and finally Mr Knight who compered the evening.