On a beautiful summer’s morning, Speech Day began with Leavers’ Mass, celebrated by Monsignor Jeremy Rigden in Our Lady of the Snows Chapel. The Gospel was John 14:23-26, ‘The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.’
During his Homily, Monsignor Rigby talked about living in three relationships - with other people, with God and with ourselves. Self-knowledge and awareness, understanding our flaws, quirks and weaknesses, is a sign of growing maturity, ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…’ “This journey of inwards never ends.”
Following Mass, our leavers joined the Prior Park community in the marquee for a welcome by Chair of Governors, Mr Michael King, who thanked My Murphy-O’Connor for his decade of service to Prior Park Schools and presented him with a painting of the College by local artist, Peter Brown.
During his address, the Headmaster asked our U6 leavers to "make decisions carefully; be positive in life and bring joy to others; know at some point we will all need to ‘hitchhike’ and rely on the kindness of others to go further down the road." Mr Murphy-O’Connor commented that it had been a joy and a privilege to be a part of the Prior Park community for the last ten years. He then quoted Hector’s final words from Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, “All you can do is just pass it on.”
Guest Speaker was Nigel Redman, current Head of Performance and Learning at British Swimming and former Bath and England rugby player. He spoke about ‘Lifescript’, thinking of the moments in your life that help define the character you are today. Mr Redman cited 5 May, 1973, the day of the FA Cup Final between Leeds United and Sunderland, and Jim Montgomery’s double save that helped Sunderland, the underdogs, win 1-0 - proof that goalkeepers can be heroes too. The other event he reflected on happened several years later when, aged 34 and recovering from surgery, he was called by Jack Rowell and invited to tour Argentina with England. During the tour, Fran Cotton requested his presence at the British and Irish Lions Tour of South Africa. Mr Redman realised that his character had taken him this far and he was “prepared to give it my all.” The tour was indeed a memorable one and the Lions won 2-1. Mr Redman’s words of advice to our U6 Leavers were: “Be true to yourself, find that sense of purpose, be authentic, have the courage. If you get it wrong – reflect, learn and move on.”
In his last Speech Day at Prior Park, it was fitting that our Headmaster had the final words and, dropping his microphone Obama style, Mr Murphy-O’Connor announced, “JMOC out.”