The former Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland, John Bruton, was the guest of honour at Stonyhurst College’s annual prizegiving.
In a moving speech, where he called for people in the UK to remain in Europe, he pointed out that Britain and Ireland were united by their sacrifices in the battles of Jutland and the Somme, both of which have their centenaries this year.
He noted that the very first Victoria Cross of the First World War was awarded to an Irishman, Maurice Dease, who attended Stonyhurst College. He said: “His portrait hangs in your Great Hall, along with six other alumni who won VCs. But war is futile, and we shouldn’t have to remember in this way.”
Before accolades were handed out, Headmaster Andrew Johnson celebrated the achievements of the past year, including the best ever exam results, a host of sporting victories and successful arts’ performances, and many co-curricular opportunities.
He said: “Stonyhurst aspires to be a place where people are believed in, where natural talents and creative abilities are recognised and celebrated, where each of us finds the challenge, encouragement and support to reach our fullest individual potential for excellence and where we work together with enthusiams and generosity.”
Chairman of Governors, John Cowdall paid tribute to Mr Johnson, who leaves Stonyhurst after 10 years to become Headmaster of St Benedict’s School, Ealing, for his energy, decisiveness and compassion, and outlined the achievements and developments at Stonyhurst over the last decade. These include the building of a new boarding house, a new refectory and the successful introduction of the International Baccalaureate, which is taught alongside A’ levels.
The Head Boy and Head Girl, Joshua Katz from Windsor and Alex Duckworth from Chipping, also gave speeches, in which they thanked staff and parents for their teaching and support, and remembered key events and milestones over their years at the school. The year will be rounded off with a leavers’ mass and a leavers’ ball.