5 September 2019
The Great Hall at Bolton School Girls’ Division was packed with present and former pupils, members of staff, parents and family as the school assembled to celebrate girls’ academic and extra-curricular achievements at the annual Presentation Evening. Certificates and prizes were distributed by Old Girl Julie Dean, who attended the Sixth Form from 1986 to 1988 and is now UK Fund Manager and Director at Sanditon Asset Management. In her address, she offered the gathering her ‘unchanging principles’ for success and happiness in life.
She began by speaking about her time at Bolton School’s Sixth Form. In her first week, she made the decision to switch from science subjects to English and History, and ultimately went on to study History at St Anne’s College, Oxford University. She said that the experience of changing subjects taught her three valuable lessons: “Keep your own counsel. Do what you love. Take risks.”
Moving on to discuss her career, she gave an interesting overview of the exciting highs and lows of fund management, the “dynamic, alive” nature of the stock market, and what her job actually involves. She recalled that her first job at GT Asset Management was won through persistence, intellectual curiosity and a passion to understand the stock market rather than any pre-existing knowledge, and reminded everyone that employers prize “mercurial minds with clarity of thought” and, of course, “bandwidth”. Julie offered some practical book recommendations – ‘How to Fail’ by Elizabeth Day and ‘The Hundred Year Life’ by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott – and spoke eloquently about the “still frustratingly thorny” issue of gender. She did not shy away from the difficulties she faced both in her twenties at the start of her career and later combining it with motherhood, but rather offered up guidance based around her ‘unchanging principles’.
These included the assurance that “unprovoked rudeness and aggression in others is usually about their shortcomings not yours” and advice to “remember to have some fun!” She also advised girls to stay the course without getting stuck and called on them to teach equality to any children they might have in the future.
She closed her address saying, “My final unchanging principle in a changing world is simply, be kind.”
In her role as the guest of honour, Julie presented pupils with their certificates and prizes, and became the first person to present the Old Girls’ Association Award. Former Year 11 student Arabella Barker-Smith became the inaugural recipient of this new prize.
The Presentation Evening ceremony included several musical elements. During the course of the evening, the audience was invited to sing the hymns ‘I Vow To Thee, My Country’ and ‘Jerusalem’ as well as the School Song, supported by the Middle School Choir. Recent leaver Siân Rowlands, who collected her A Level results this summer, gave an expressive rendition of ‘Still Hurting’ from the musical ‘The Last Five Years’ by Jason Robert Brown.
Earlier in the evening, Chairman of Governors Mr Michael Griffiths gave his report on the past academic year. In particular, he highlighted Headmistress Sue Hincks’s work as President of the GSA (Girls’ Schools Association) and the School’s recent accolades: winning the TES Independent School of the Year Award and IDPE Fundraising Campaign of the Year Award. He also looked back on a lifetime of association with Bolton School.
In her address, Miss Hincks congratulated pupils not only on their remarkable examination success at GCSE and A Level, but also their wealth of extra-curricular triumphs. She recalled team victories in sport and particularly congratulated the Under 13 water polo team on becoming English Schools (ESSA) National Champions in the Girls’ Division’s first ever water polo tournament at this level. Moving on to music and drama, she looked back at the Bridgewater Hall Gala Concert, the ‘Francovision’ competition, and three stellar theatrical productions: Great Expectations, the result of innovative collaboration with the Octagon Theatre; the Joint Production of Into The Woods; and Grease to bring the year to a close. Girls’ efforts in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and Young Enterprise competition were commended, as was the charity and voluntary work undertaken by pupils throughout the year. She went on to fondly recap the exploits of the Class of 2019, and asked the audience to join her in thanking those members of staff who left Bolton School at the end of the year.
Finally, Miss Hincks paid tribute to Mr Griffiths, who will retire from his role in December 2019 after 33 years as a Governor of the school, including 12 years as Chairman of Governors. She recalled some of the achievements of the governing body during that time, particularly related to growing the Bursary Fund, and mentioned his additional voluntary work with the Scouts and on malaria eradication programmes in the Solomon Islands. She said: “The Foundation will be expressing its thanks to Michael over the course of the term but on this occasion I would like to hold him up as an example to all of you about what you can achieve in a lifetime of service to others.”