A glittering gathering of students returned to Queen’s Gate House on the evening of Monday December 11th for the Prize Giving ceremony.
They would have been forgiven for not recognising the sparse site where they took their exams, after its transformation into a star-studded ballroom, the walls lit by shades of pink and yellow lights with an arc of balloons under which many memories were captured. There was a whiff of the Oscars about the whole event as returning students came with their parents, and teachers donned their finest jackets to celebrate their pupils’ achievements. Guests mingled around the Spanish banquet and toasted the award winners. Each table was beautifully decked with white floral tributes and it was an honour that so many award winners had travelled the lengths of the country to attend.
We were fortunate that Robert Ferguson, trustee of the Explorers against Extinction charity and renowned travel writer gave an inspirational speech to all present about lessons learned in a long and prestigious career. Robert regaled us with wonderful stories and focused on two attributes which has helped him succeed; bravery and persistence. His speech stuck a chord all present as he encouraged the award winners to be courageous, curious and to passionately pursue something that they enjoy. He encouraged the students to be persistent, never to give up and never to be put off approaching inspiring or successful individuals. Robert touched on his varied and fascinating career, starting as a mountain guide in the Himalayas. He has trekked coast to coast across Borneo, climbed over 21,000 ft in the Himalaya and travelled the ancient Silk Road from China to Pakistan. He has been charged by a black rhino in Swaziland and chased out of a bar in South Africa by a warthog!
We are grateful that so many alumni made such an effort to attend the Prize Giving ceremony and will watch their paths and career choices with interest; a hearty congratulations to all!