Speech Day and Prize Giving 2016

Tuesday 12th July 2016

On Saturday 2 July, the community of Queen Anne’s School came together for the school’s annual Speech Day and Prize Giving ceremony to celebrate the end of the academic year.

We were delighted to welcome Debra Searle, MVO, MBE as our guest speaker and prize giver for the morning. Debra Searle is a Professional Adventurer and Gender Equality Advocate. Her expeditions have included rowing solo across the Atlantic and sailing around Antarctica. She has also launched three companies, is a published author, has worked as a presenter for the BBC and is a trusted corporate speaker.  Debra’s spirit of adventure gained her an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen and a place on the board of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. She was later awarded an MVO in the 2014 New Year’s Honours.

The morning began with performances from members of the school’s talented and lively Concert Band, Saxaholics and Saxability groups, who performed a selection of songs, followed by a video called “Ormie”, featuring the musical talents of U6 student, Alycia Lewis.


Vice Admiral Peter Dunt, CB DL, Chair of Governors, then welcomed pupils, parents and guests to the celebrations and as part of his welcoming speech, those present were shown a visual representation of the school’s new entrance and the development of the heart of the school.


The theme for this year’s Speech Day was “The Voices of Queen Anne’s”, a theme put forward by the girls which Mrs Harrington featured heavily throughout her speech.

Mrs Harrington began by talking about how girls see life at Queen Anne’s as an adventure:

“it’s colourful, its spontaneous, and it’s about growth in a supportive and challenging environment.”

She also recapped a number of highlights from the last academic year, finishing with the girls’ own words:

“they value life at Queen Anne’s because it is a celebration, it is a rollercoaster of emotions, unforgettable, breathtaking, life changing and perhaps most importantly of all, worth it.”


Throughout Mrs Harrington’s speech, guests were treated to a variety of performances. This included musical performances from VOCES8 and saxophonist Laura Bunce; drama performances from this year’s production of “Annie” featuring Katie Dart, Romilly Hayward and Kitty Williams; a very comical drama performance called “Café Scene” by Rosie Dart, Alice Knott and Caitlin Croke; and Anna Holland (Balloo), Abigail Hutt (Mowgli) and Hannah Khalique (Bagheer) took to the stage to perform an extract from the Junior production of “The Jungle Book.”


The Queen Anne’s dance troupes once again performed. Our senior dancers performed a piece called “Caged” to Sia’s “Elastic Heart” whilst our junior dancers took to the stage to perform “Journey – Knock Backs and Hard Work”, set to the music from the musical “Fame.”


Videos also featured in Mrs Harrington’s speech this year. Guests were shown “The Paperman”, an animation video, which featured music composed by U6 music student, Gabrielle Woodward, for her A Levels. The PE department also took a starring role this year with pupils narrating the school’s sporting successes in a short video.

Towards the end of her speech, Mrs Harrington introduced a video, which had been specially created for Speech Day and for the school. The video focused on the journey of a pupil throughout her time at Queen Anne’s as she creates her own individual and unique story.

Before presenting prizes to the girls, Guest Speaker, Debra Searle, took the floor to deliver her speech. Debra shared her inspirational and courageous journey rowing solo across the Atlantic, spending 3 ½ months at sea alone encountering 30 foot waves, sharks and a very persistent sea turtle. Debra ended her speech by encouraging pupils to focus on what they love doing the most and when faced with a challenging or stressful situation, to always “choose your attitude”, adding:

“Because it’s the one thing you always have a choice about.” 


Following the prize giving ceremony, during which Debra Searle congratulated each individual girl, the outgoing Head Girls, Amelia de Normann and Katherine Turner, delivered an inspirational summary of their time at Queen Anne’s.


Amelia and Kate spoke about how Queen Anne’s girls demonstrate similar qualities to the Guest Speaker, Debra Searle, in particular bravery, courage and perseverance and reminded those girls awaiting their exams results, that they are:

“more than letters and numbers on a page and that your grades do not define who you are.”

Quoting Winston Churchill, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts”, Amelia and Kate encouraged girls in the younger years to not be deterred by failure and wished all the U6 leavers great success for the future.

After singing “Jerusalem”, based on the poem by William Blake with music written by Sir Hubert Parry, guests were then invited to enjoy refreshments outside Michell House. Pupils, parents and staff members enjoyed sparkling wine and strawberries as a jazz band, led by Dr Jonathan Beale, Teacher of Religion and Philosophy, entertained them.

As well as the jazz band, guests were able to enjoy a number of dance performances, including the flash mob, which featured pupils and staff members. The Art department’s new 3D printer was also on display and after some unseasonal rain, the sunshine finally appeared as Speech Day and Prize Giving 2016 drew to a close.

Click here to view photographs from Speech Day and Prize Giving 2016