The gratitude of the girls and staff at Speech Day on Saturday was palpable. After last year's Speech Day had to be held entirely online during lockdown, everyone was so pleased to be able to celebrate together at QM this year. Of course, in order to remain safe and compliant with current Covid-19 restrictions, this year's proceedings did break from tradition a little. However, whilst we were only able to invite a limited number to join the celebrations in person, the day's events were also livestreamed so the rest of the QM Family could join remotely.
The annual School event began as always with a Service of Praise and Thanksgiving, conducted by Chaplain, Robert Owen. There were readings from Head, Sue Baillie, the Head Girl team and an exquisite anthem from the Chamber Choir and musicians. The marquee ceremony followed with a welcome from Chairman of Governors, Caroline Bayliss, and the Head's Address, where Mrs Baillie encouraged the girls to "have courage and be kind". There were prizes galore, with girls from each year being recognised for their achievements, improvement and goodwill. Our Guest of Honour this year was Old Margaretian, Georgie Leech. Georgie graduated from QM in 2015, it seemed fitting that our UVI leavers this year remember her collecting her red ribbon when they were in Year I and had just begun their QM experience. Together with two friends, earlier this year Georgie broke a world record by becoming the youngest female team to row across the Atlantic. In the marquee she spoke of her 52-day gruelling journey, the ups and the downs, and how she found the determination to succeed. She also answered the question on everyone's lips - where do you go to the toilet on a tiny rowing boat?!
Head Girl, Sophie Standen, gave a perfectly pitched speech to her Upper Sixth cohort, reflecting on many of their cherished moments at QM and thanking parents and staff for the part they played in their time at School. Sophie finished her speech by reminding her fellow students to "be a girl with a mind, a woman with an attitude and a lady with class". As Caroline Bayliss announced she would be stepping down as Chairman of Governors, we warmly welcomed Terry Burt who will take on the role. Terry is father to Hannah and Maisie who are currently in Year II at QM. We thank Caroline for her service to the School during her five years as Chairman and are delighted she will continue as a Governor on the Education Committee. Chairman of the Old Margaretian Association, Adrienne Owen, was able to join us to formally welcome the Upper Sixth girls into the OMA as they graduated.
With everyone's safety in mind, this year's Speech Day lunch was in the form of socially distant picnics on the Rounders Lawn, and thanks to an impressive downpour of rain, guests had to wait for the clouds to part to enjoy the wonderful feast provided by our talented Catering Team. Rustic picnic boxes filled with handmade savoury and sweet goodies were devoured, washed down with a glass of Pimm's and followed by a treat from the visiting ice cream van! Everyone had a really lovely time.
As we bid farewell to girls in Years I-V for the summer holidays, the afternoon's events continued with the traditional Art Exhibition and Leavers' Concert. The Leavers' Concert transported us all over the world and through the ages with solo and group performances from our talented musicians. The girls chose their final performance themselves, an emotional rendition of ABBA's Slipping Through My Fingers.
The LVI and UVI girls returned in their bubbles later for 'a night in the woods'. The wonderfully themed summer party was the perfect way to round off a year like no other. It was made all the more special as we thought of the Class of 2020 who were sadly unable to enjoy the traditional events they so deserved last year due to lockdown. The evening started with welcome drinks and live music followed by a three-course dinner. Whilst parents and partners could not join the celebrations as is customary, the girls had a really great time, enjoying the dancefloor, the photo booth and each other's company.