134th School Birthday

Happy Birthday Francis Holland!

FHS staff celebrating their win in the staff v girls netball match FHS staff celebrating their win in the staff v girls netball match
What a glorious day for our 134th School Birthday!  The sun was as golden as the daffodils entwined in the girls’ hair and everyone crowded into church with bright smiles in anticipation of the annual challenge of singing our wonderful School anthem.  We were honoured to have as our guest preacher an Old Girl who would be singing it for the first time in over 40 years – and she was word perfect!  Caroline Clarke is a priest at the Trinity Hospice and she preached with gentle wisdom on learning that new opportunities can be salvaged from disappointment and failure.  We all sang with gusto and then emerged into the sunshine for the eagerly awaited Staff vs Pupils netball match.  The entire School – nearly 500 girls – turned out to watch, with placards (we appreciated Father Kenny’s Praying for a staff win) and posters in the windows.  Much cheering was done as about 20 staff took it in turns to play (the Headmistress, never one to pass over a competitive challenge, took the centre pass) and a hotly contested battle ensued, with the staff just emerging victorious 8 goals to 7.  I suppose having the four members of the PE department in the team helped somewhat – and our secret weapon, Dr Ifode (has anyone seen anyone so small jump so high?) clinched it for the staff.
 
Then it was off to devour special birthday cakes made by our brilliant catering department and to spruce ourselves up again for the secret part of the morning – which this year was a talk by Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism Project.  If that sounds rather heavy, it couldn’t have been more different.  I’m not sure we’ve ever had a more inspiring and empowering talk, and we were so fortunate to hear from this immensely impressive young woman who has won so many awards and accolades and speaks all over the world.  Her talk was a rallying cry for self-belief, courage and confidence, not in a strident, aggressive way sometimes associated with feminism, but in an intelligent, articulate and reasoned manner.  We have a right to equality of treatment in every way, and we should refuse to accept the denigration so carelessly meted out to us because of our gender.  The hall was a forest of hands during question time and the girls were utterly inspired.






It was fitting that our celebrations ended in traditional style – with staff throwing themselves into the spirit of using their talents in the service of others.  Dressed in fluorescent curly wigs and fancy dress, they performed – with a dance routine - the Jackson Five song ABC, 123with Mr Nickerson on the drums and special solos by Miss Vickery, Dr Upcott (counter-tenor), Miss Stockall, Miss Davidson, Miss Benthall and Miss Graham.  It brought the house down.  What a wonderful way to start a half day holiday.  Happy Birthday, Francis Holland.