Senior Speech Day: Rydal Penrhos Celebrates Return of Key School Tradition
August 15, 2023

Rydal Penrhos celebrated the achievements of its Year 11, 12 and 13 pupils on Saturday 24 June 2023 as the annual Speech Day celebrations drew pupils, parents, alumni, staff, and friends to the Memorial Hall on what was a glorious summer’s morning.

The significance of the Speech Day tradition runs deep within our school’s culture, tracing back to the earliest years of Rydal Mount School and Penrhos College. Among the cherished traditions at Rydal Penrhos, Speech Day holds a special place. It represents a swansong for our Year 13 leavers, and a chance for their younger peers to look forward and aspire to similar success.

As the name suggests, Speech Day features a series of addresses from key figures from our community. The event began with Rev’d Dr Rob Beamish, the school chaplain, leading the school in prayer and the Chair of Governors, Ms Deborah McKinnel, reflecting on the occasion of Speech Day and drawing on words from Ecclesiastes 3 (“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”) to encourage pupils to embrace this moment of celebration.

Executive Principal Mr John Waszek, in his final Speech Day before his retirement, focused his address on the theme of reading, highlighting the high standard of literacy throughout the school and using examples from the science fiction literature of Isaac Asimov to discuss the value of human beings living by a code of ethics and behaviour, as John Wesley set out in his famous maxim that begins; “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can.”

Rydal Penrhos was honoured to welcome Mr John Wilford as the guest speaker. A distinguished alumnus and former Governor of Rydal Penrhos, Mr. Wilford has made significant contributions to the corporate world. He has worked alongside notable FTSE 100 companies and founded his own company, and in 2010 joined Lloyd’s Register to help tackle the challenges of technology, sustainability, and digitalization.

Mr Wilford recalled many memories of his time at Rydal School during his speech; many of his stories will have chimed with our pupils today, and overall, the anecdotes were a reminder of the shared experiences that tie all alumni of the school over the years. Mr Wilford also took the time to reflect on the positive influence of his former teacher, Mr Jim Barry, who was one of the many Governors, former Governors, and trustees in attendance.

Last to speak were the Head Boy and Head Girl, James Copeland and Ester Ball-Iversen, who addressed their peers for the final time before departing the school. In a fun and heart-warming speech, the pair reflected on memories of their years at Rydal Penrhos. We are sad to see these two excellent Heads of School leave us, although we are confident that they will achieve great success.

At the end of the day’s ceremony, it was only fitting to take a moment to thank Mr Waszek and wish him the best ahead of his departure over the summer. Following some kind words from the Chair of Governors, the new Heads of School, Will Tavernor and Ruby Merrick, presented the outgoing Executive Principal with a small gift to thank him for his hard work and service.

Thank you to everyone involved in delivering another fantastic Speech Day event, and congratulations to all the recipients of the traditional cups, trophies, and awards. A brilliant way to round off a fantastic year of achievement at Rydal Penrhos; we look forward to doing it all again from September!