Pupils inspired by LRGS Old Boy speech

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Proud parents, teachers, current and former pupils from Lancaster Royal Grammar School and a BBC Radio Four presenter came together to celebrate Speech Day with a ceremony at Lancaster Town Hall .

Speech Day is a celebration of the previous year’s achievements, including a presentation of prizes to pupils.

Special guests included Lancaster mayor Robert Redfern and the mayoress Linda Redfern.

This year’s guest speaker was author, broadcaster, journalist and former Lancaster Royal Grammar School pupil Tom Sutcliffe, who presented prizes to pupils and gave an insightful speech in which he suggested that pupils should embrace failure.

He said: “I’m going to suggest that before next year’s Speech Day you should all go out and fail at something that really matters to you. Now I should perhaps explain right away that not any kind of failure will do. You have to choose the right kind of failure. What you want is the kind of failure that you can actually survive, the kind of failure that lets you know how far your ability reaches.”

Tom offered valuable advice on learning from failure, he said: “Success isn’t actually the opposite of failure, as we tend to think of it, it’s what success is built out of. It’s not an either/or thing with success on one hand and failure on the other.

“Falling short and not giving up at that point, is how you go further than you’d expected. And that’s true if you’re training for a sports event or working towards an exam or trying to write a television series. Success isn’t the absence of failure — it’s failure endured and learnt from.”

Headmaster Chris Pyle paid tribute to former members of the school who sadly died this year: Shaun Higgins, former French teacher and head of PE and games; John Lea, head of history and then second master, he also ran the Boat Club; History teacher Brian Salmon; Sue Coates, School House matron; John Holland, a governor for 26 years and former chairman, and Lord Cecil Parkinson of Carnforth, a former pupil and governor. Thanks were offered to Dr Hugh McKinney who retired after many years as vice-chairman of governors.

Dr Chris Pyle said: “The A to Z of our past year starts with record-breaking A-level results and ends with those two new zebra crossings. Academically this was an outstanding year. But what we value here isn’t just the straight A*s; it isn’t just the academic success whatever your starting point.

“Because it is outside the classroom that you will learn many of those skills of leadership and teamwork; that’s where you learn how to win; learn how to lose; learn what things are more important than winning and losing.

“The goal is both academic excellence and return on involvement beyond the classroom in the total curriculum.”

He added: “The vision for LRGS includes a commitment to future pupil’s access and outreach; to the InspirUS programme, working with local primary schools and the Lune Scholarship fund. The aim is to offer an exceptional education to more local children with an extra form group next September and improving our facilities – with major improvements this year in Music and the New Building; and we hope to improve facilities for the Sixth Form, and build two new labs.”

“We aim to be outward looking and international in all we do; through languages, exchanges and links that have taken our students to 12 countries this year.”

“That’s our vision for the next phase of this very special school as we celebrate the achievements of every single one of our pupils over the past year.”