Moreton Hall Centenary Launch
By Sue Tunstall, OM and Governor
The day had finally dawned! From the moment of my entering the gates and driving up the drive a silence and sense of excitement prevailed.
This was the day we had all been waiting for and planning for for two years… the start of the celebrations of Moreton Hall‘s Centenary Year. So many months in planning by the whole school, the O.Ms office, the staff, the catering staff and of course the Centenary Team. It was all about to begin!
What a day it turned out to be and one which could only surpass everyone’s expectations.
The planning logistics were in place for us on our arrival at St Oswald’s Church in Oswestry for the service.
From the moment of arriving it was excitement and anticipation I can only liken it to being part of a wedding party – from photographs taken outside the church to following the choir up the aisle. Due to the fact that I was reading a lesson I was part of the main processing party (although in a way I was sorry not to be at the back of the church to see everyone’s reactions!). The procession also included the High Sheriff of Shropshire, Mrs Diana Flint and husband Charles Flint, the High Sheriff of Clwyd, Mrs Celia Jenkins, the Rt Hon Mr Owen Paterson MP, the Hon Mrs Rose Paterson, Councillor Malcolm Pate – Chairman of the Shropshire Council, Councillor Chris Schofield, Mayor of Oswestry and his wife Val Schofield, Moreton’s Chairman of Governors Mrs Lynne Boon, Mr Bill Boon and of course Jonathan and Paula Forster and the Reverend Adrian Bailey, Revered Simon Thorburn and the Rt Reverend Bishop Mark Rylands.
The church was full to the rafters, 700 in total. We started with the hymns, the school bible reading and all things relevant to Moreton. I certainly felt very honoured to be asked to read a lesson in front of so many people and to be a part of Moreton’s opening Centenary event. It was strange to sit there and reminisce about the times I had been in the church, most memorable was the Confirmations of myself and daughter Nicola. The feeling of Bron’s presence was all around us and I hope she was looking down and enjoying the success of the day and the school that she started. It was all very emotional and moving.
The service was beautiful... Planned by school with all the familiar school hymns and prayers and readings by the Head Prefect, her deputies and former Head Prefect Phoebe Griffiths and by myself. There was a moving rendition of T.S. Elliott’s ‘The Four Quartets’ by Merriel Halsall-Williams and a delightful reading from the Centenary Book by young Eliza Kiel. There was also exquisite singing by the Junior and Senior Choirs and a rendering of Gaude Plebs - I wonder how many of us can still remember it by heart! A beautiful and moving sermon was given by Mark Rylands - The Bishop of Shrewsbury, brother to Alison and son of Denise - who gave us wonderful insights into Moreton itself during his mother’s and sister’s time there . How fitting for his family to be such a part of this extraordinary day.
We then departed for the Sports Hall which had been transformed with blue and purple drapes from the roof and around the walls. Again there was a buzz of excitement; so many familiar faces from Governors, O.Ms, previous staff, parents and girls. The Enterprise team did an amazing job selling all the mementos for Moreton and Mathew Dennison signed many copies of his book: ‘A Centenary Portrait of Moreton Hall’.
As always the catering staff did an outstanding job feeding and watering 600 diners.
After the lunch Jonathan Forster made an inspiring speech followed by the Head Prefect and her deputies.
Sadly it all had to come to an end. Such a special day but not ending without a visit to the spectacular new Centenary Science Centre and the beautiful Centenary Garden in front of the Library where the old huts used to be.
What an achievement for the school which is now so highly regarded within the Independent schools sectors, due mainly to the inspiration and dedication of Jonathan and his wonderful staff.
My friends ask me why I am so involved with the school, but I am proud to be an Old Moretonian and a Governor - especially in this 100th year - and I ask you all to take some part in the celebrations over the next year. If you can manage to go to school at sometime for one of the celebrations you will see what I am talking about. Please try to support us in this very special year and be as proud as I am of the achievements of Moreton Hall and especially of being an Old Moretonian.
The Processional Party Prior to the Service at St Oswald's Church
Click for more photos, a full slide show will form part of the electronic Moreton Update in December.