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Headmaster’s Blog – Jubilee celebrations

June 7, 2012

It was in 1897 that the country last celebrated a Monarch’s Diamond Jubilee – some two years after one of Ballard’s constituent schools was founded. In keeping with most schools up and down the land we celebrate the Jubilee on the first day of June, just before the half-term break.

Ballard last had a Royal visitor in 1935. This was Prince Arthur, the third son of Queen Victoria and known as The Field Marshal HRH the Duke of Connaught. He was 85 years old at the time of his visit to the school (which then had strong connections with the Royal Navy) and he planted a tree alongside the Main House. It is still there to this day and the visit is commemorated by an inscription in the stonework of the balustrade around our Terrace.

Our present Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is the last of its kind which we shall see in our lifetime and as such is a momentous occasion for us all. We marked the occasion with a carousel of activities for the whole school (including traditional games, the science of the last 60 years, British comedy and the people and events of Her Majesty’s reign). We held a ‘street party’ for 600 pupils and staff in our own back yard, a ‘last night of the proms’ concert, an art and DT exhibition and a summer fayre (organised by our parents’ association) which also includes many familiar sports and games such as throwing wet sponges at the Headmaster!  To mark the occasion we are planting five trees. One of these, an oak, will represent the School whilst there will be four others for the Houses – Broadley, Holmsley, Setthorns and Wilverley, named after areas of the New Forest. Each will blossom and then fruit in the colour of its House.  As with the Prince’s 1935 visit, these are marked by a  plaque. We won’t have royalty to plant the trees on this occasion but our own VIPs – children of various ages and stages in the School.

Ritual and ceremony, fayres and celebrations, form an important part of our individual lives (such as baptisms, confirmations and marriages) as well as our corporate lives (as seen in the School’s annual cycle of services, special assemblies and speech day). Recently our School Prefects ‘signed the roll’ in a formal assembly marking their taking on of office and entering into a particular type of service for the School. Here as we celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee we are undergoing a significant ritual as a Nation and, as such, we trust it will remain happily in our memories long after the bunting has gone. The trees, as they grow, will remain as a visual reminder whilst new generations of Ballard pupils pass through the School and, we trust, there will be other Jubilees to celebrate in the future.  God save the Queen – and long may Ballard flourish, too!

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