Thanksgiving Service at Westminster Abbey

Thursday 29th October 2015

The community of Queen Anne’s School in Caversham came together to celebrate the school’s biennial Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey. Parents, pupils, Governors and staff attended the service on Friday 23 October. Members of the QA Society (Alumni) were also present alongside invited guests including Baroness Floella Benjamin, OBE.

The preacher was The Reverend Prebendary Rose Hudson-Wilkin. Born in Montego Bay, The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin was appointed a Chaplain to Her Majesty The Queen in 2007. She was appointed a Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons in 2010, as well as a Priest Vicar here at Westminster Abbey. Rose is a trailblazer, being ordained to the priesthood in 1994, the first year that the Church of England ordained women, and being the first black female to be appointed a Chaplain to The Queen. She is known for her commitment to challenging institutional racism in the Church and wider society.

The service began with a performance of “The Introit” by the Consort Choir in the nave of the Abbey. Following a welcome to the service, given by The Reverend Professor Vernon White, Canon Theologian of Westminster, the Foundation Chalice, a Victorian silver chalice gifted to Grey Coat, was carried to the High Altar by Queen Anne’s Deputy Head Girl Orla Jones, U6, and the School Bible was carried by Deputy Head Girl, Laura Bunce, U6.

During the service, Mrs Julia Harrington, Headmistress, read a poem during the prayers, written by Martin Niemöller. Mr Niemöller was a Lutheran pastor and initially a supporter of Adolf Hitler, who later opposed the Nazi state. Following his imprisonment in a concentration camp, he expressed his regret at not taking the opportunity to do more to help the victims of the Holocaust. Mr Steven Jackson, Teacher of English, also recited a passage from ESTHER 4: 4-17.

As well as readings given by members of staff, GCSE drama pupils Francesca Coleman, Camille Morana, Bronwen Stuttaford, Ella Yeo, Laura Clarke and Lauren Philliban performed a modernised version of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Head Girls Kate Turner, U6, and Amelia De Normann, U6, alongside Head of Chapel, Alice Brazil, U6, then led the congregation in the prayers, accompanied by music from Camille Morana who performed Sarabande in D minor on the violin.

The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin gave an Address to the congregation during which she encouraged pupils to not just simply follow the path but to create their own trails and praised the work of Queen Anne’s staff and parents for preparing girls to be creative, courageous and compassionate human beings.

The Consort Choir and the Chamber Choir of Queen Anne’s School led the service and following the Address, the Chamber Choir performed an anthem, which had been specially composed by U6 student, Gabrielle Woodward. The anthem is based on the text “Christ is made the sure foundation”.

Following the service, members of the congregation were handed a Queen Anne’s Gingerbread as they exited the Abbey. The significance of the gingerbread dates back to the school’s links with Westminster and the Grey Coat Hospital and how children who took part in annual processions of “Charity Children” to St Andrew’s Church in Holborn were provided with £12.00 of gingerbread as a ‘comfort on the way home.’