Each end-of-year newsletter (this being my eighth as Headmaster) naturally involves looking back on the events of the preceding three terms. At Hampton there is invariably a palpable sense of fulfilment at our community’s collective achievements, although I never felt this more keenly than this year in reflecting upon a remarkable period for our School and wider society.
Since our return to the School site in March, it has been uplifting to observe the ingenious ways in which pupils and colleagues have re-established more and more elements of Hampton life as we have passed each milestone on the government ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. While updated Department for Education guidance for next term is still to be published to schools, we are optimistic that we shall be back to something even closer to normal when the new Hampton year begins in September.
Prominent among many highlights of the summer term was the resumption of inter-school sports matches. We are indebted to our devoted coaching and grounds staff for their flexibility in offering a hybrid summer/winter fixture programme of Cricket, Football, Rowing, Rugby, and many specialist sports. I can wholly identify with how important this has been in supporting our boys’ wellbeing and promoting a healthy balance in their lives during challenging times. Over recent weeks, we have been allowed to welcome spectators at home matches and I know this has been a popular weekend outing for many parents – I have really enjoyed having your company again on the touchlines/boundaries.
It has been a particular thrill to hear the evocative sound of leather on willow echoing around our playing fields and there has been a great deal of success across 19 Cricket squads. Six of our teams maintained 100% records; our 12A and U14A sides won their respective Middlesex Cup finals; our U14As, U17As and First XI reached the latter stages of their respective national competitions. An impressive five bowlers recorded hat-tricks and six batsmen scored centuries during an outstanding season for Hampton Cricket under Mr Banerjee’s superb leadership.
We have been treated to some brilliant ‘streamed’ digital performances over the past 17 months. But our dramatists have nevertheless relished getting back to playing to live audiences since half term, albeit with reduced capacity in the Hammond Theatre due to social-distancing guidelines. An exuberant and engaging Lower School summer show, The Terrible Infants, was staged on two consecutive evenings in late June. Looking ahead, rehearsals are already in full swing for next October’s joint Hampton-LEH Senior Musical, Guys and Dolls.
Our talented musicians and my innovative Music Department colleagues have done as much as anyone to raise our collective spirits during enforced periods of site closure. Their creative output has continued apace since the Easter break, as you will discover in the accompanying e-newsletter! No fewer than seven on-site concerts have taken place alongside three splendid online recordings by our Choir and Symphony Orchestra. Warm congratulations are due to those who performed in the Summer Concerts last week – the standard of musicianship was impressive across the age range, and no-one present (or indeed our neighbours) will forget the spectacle of a marching Hampton Brass Band playing outside the front of School!
You can discover much more about School life last term – including six Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expeditions and the pioneering work of our Genocide80Twenty campaigners – in the latest e-edition of News from Hampton (NFH). This should already have found its way to your inbox via SchoolPost last week. A collection of recent Hampton news stories and the latest editions of the excellent Hampton Sports Chronicle and Lion Print (featuring some stunning art and literary work) magazines are also available via links within this e-newsletter.
The end of our summer term heralds the departure of this year’s Upper Sixth Leavers and I should like to pay special tribute to our Class of 2021. In responding to externally-imposed obstacles associated with the cancellation of public exams and the loss of some important rites of passage, they have shown admirable fortitude and cheerful stoicism. Moreover, they have embodied Hamptonian values of kindness and generous-spirited support for others, while aspiring to personal best across the full range of academic disciplines and co-curricular activities. We wish them every future happiness they move on to the next stage of their lives and look forward to welcoming them back to School as alumni before too long.
We also bid a fond farewell to several members of the Common Room this week – details are included in the accompanying Further Information sheet. This is an opportune moment to thank publicly all of our teaching and support staff for their Herculean efforts throughout the year. I am sure you will agree that their selfless dedication and professionalism have enabled Hamptonians to avoid the disruption to learning, progress and personal development sadly experienced by so many young people nationally since the onset of the pandemic. It remains my privilege and good fortune to work alongside such an exceptional group of colleagues.
Hampton’s first-ever Giving Day took place last week and I am personally grateful to everyone involved in raising over £200,000 in support of The Fitzwygram Foundation, which will enable us to fund additional transformative free places for boys whose families could not otherwise afford a Hampton education. This marvellous collective effort will help to make our community even better, happier and more inclusive over the coming years – thank you.
At the close of a memorable and inspiring… if at times challenging… School year, I wish all Hampton families a relaxing summer break. Hopefully we shall have taken the final steps out of lockdown well before we reconvene in September and year group ‘bubbles’, one-way systems etc. will be things of the past. And it will of course be wonderful if before then we have been able to celebrate a long-awaited tournament victory for England in the European Championship – rather unusually for me given my well-known allegiances, I’ll be among those willing Harry Kane to score two or three more goals this week!
With kind regards and best wishes