And here we are.  Thursday 7 July 2016 – a date that probably seemed impossibly distant back in early September, but which has come round with incredible speed. The boys will be unleashed at 12 o’clock as fully-fledged Hamptonians: hardy veterans with a year’s service under their belts. I have been looking back through my bulletin archive, and have discovered that, over the course of 34 weekly updates this academic year, I have written 21 362 words. For the keen statisticians amongst you, my most verbose effort occurred on 20 March, when I clocked up 1169 words as I waxed lyrical about Cooking Week, and I was most laconic on 15 January (a miserly 352 words).  It has given me particular pleasure to think that these are 21 362 words exclusively of commendation, praise and celebration. It’s been a very uplifting experience to be able to share so many triumphs and successes on a weekly basis.

It has probably not escaped your attention that, for the past few weeks, all First Year boys have been busy planning and building model castles. I have visions of kitchen tables across southwest London being lost to ice lolly stick palisades, papier mache mottes, cardboard crenellations, and a general sense of feverish interest in the construction of fortified buildings not seen since William the Conqueror tried the crown on for size. The designs had to be historically accurate representations of motte and bailey, concentric or stone keep castles, with the base covering no more than an A3 sheet of paper.  Our Form winners were Riyaaz Khan, Quentin Duff, Thomas Norman, Teddy Jerome, James Langdown and Samuel Berthon. Quentin was overall runner up, but the First Year champion castle constructer was Teddy – very well done. I was also very impressed to hear that one boy’s castle was produced on a 3G printer – now there’s technology that William didn’t have access to in 1066!

We had a very enjoyable Founders’ Day on Tuesday. We walked down to St Mary’s Church in the morning, where Luke Michels led the prayers impeccably. Also most impressive was the singing of the choir, so well done to all the boys involved in that. Back at Hampton after the service, we took part in a variety of activities for the rest of the day. Before lunch, we were lucky to hear a talk from marine conservationist and generally intrepid adventurer Emily Penn, who told us of her quest to sail through the most remote stretches of the Earth’s oceans, cleaning up all the plastic she encountered on the way. In the afternoon, there was a general knowledge quiz, incorporating a round on the history of Hampton (do you know the person after whom your son’s Form takes its initial?) and a series of team-building and problem-solving exercises. Perhaps the highlight, though, was Mr Clarke’s trebuchet construction challenge, in which the boys had to build medieval siege catapults from tent pegs, twine, elastic, bamboo canes and – a piece of equipment no self-respecting 13th Century crusader would besiege a city without – lacrosse sticks.

Tuesday evening saw the annual Lower School Evening, and Mrs Owen and I were delighted to provide a very brief overview of the very many successes and achievements that 2015-16 has brought.  A copy of our speech can be viewed on the parent portal. Well done, of course, to all the boys who won prizes, but also to those who didn’t on this occasion. There is so much fantastic work that goes on at Hampton, and no boy should think that, if he hasn’t received a formal prize, his efforts have gone unnoticed and unappreciated. Ben Francis provided some of the musical entertainment, with a performance of Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba on the xylophone.  Sitting beside Ben on stage, I was hugely impressed by the phenomenal hand-speed needed to play this piece.

And, whilst discussing melodic matters, the Summer Concert on Wednesday evening provided a stunning end to the musical year. It was a fantastic evening’s entertainment, and many congratulations to the First Years involved.

The final merit certificates of the term have been awarded, and congratulations to Jake Costen (40 merits) and James Emery (70 merits) – a great way to end the year boys!

I don’t wish to repeat all the things that I have already said in my end of term letter, so let me sign off my final bulletin by thanking you all – boys and parents – for all your work over the past year.  When I look back at these bulletins, I can scarcely believe we have fitted in so much. It has been an absolute pleasure for me and – I speak on their behalf and without consulting them, but I am confident that I represent them accurately – all the Form Tutors to work with your sons this year. I hope you all have wonderful holidays, and I wish the boys the very best of luck for their Hampton careers. I am only sorry that I won’t be here to see them thrive.

Mr J. Partridge

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