A History of Founder’s Day

A short history, we should add.

Today Founder’s Day has two purposes: the first is to commemorate those who fell in the Wars, and those connected with school (students, staff, OTs) who have died over the preceding twelve months; second to celebrate the founding of the school.

The Act of Commemoration first took place in 1925 and was held at the school in the hall. This was led by the headmaster. The signing of the armistice was first celebrated in 1919; slowly during the 1920s more individual acts of commemoration took place and war memorials erected and so the school was following an emerging pattern.

In 1927, the first Founder’s Day was held and added to the Act Of Commemoration. It should be underlined that this was a school event to which the OTs were invited, and it still took place in the school itself.

Come 1929, the Act of Commemoration/Founder’s Day moved to the Parish Church, and was now led by the vicar. By 1936 it was reported that the congregation – besides the boys and staff – numbered 80 parents and OTs. In 1937 the events that took place on the Day were extended, and the first OTs versus School 1st XV was played on Founder’s Day after a lunch. This remained the format until 1960s when the holding the OTA’s AGM after the Service, and a Dinner Dance in the evening was introduced. However this was still a school event. With the improvement in the school’s music provision, the school orchestra and choir performed in the church.

In 1971, when the school went comprehensive, because of capacity in the church only the Sixth Form now attended the service. (There were almost 2000 pupils in the school). Ensuring a reasonable turn-out was challenging as with the change to comprehensive, Saturday morning school had been abolished.

It was reported in 1982 that, ‘Founder’s Day had a full programme including rugby, hockey and netball, tours of the school, a tea and AGM. The buffet lunch cost £1.75p and there was a bar selling wines and beer. The rugby side was to be captained by Martin Fairn who also played for Coventry but on the day he had to play for Coventry and his replacement was Jon Cooke. Rebecca McConnell led the OT hockey side and they scored their first victory over the school.’ In the morning, a rugby tournament was organised for Years 8 and 9 before the service. Worth noting that FD itself was held earlier generally around 20 October than the early November timing that had been the norm.

Times were still changing and in 1986, a joint committee of staff, OTs, the vicar and pupils was formed to review the Founder’s Day format. The outcome was that in future, Founder’s Day would be a joint effort – and not just the school’s – with the organising group headed by a member of staff. In the 1990s, the school decided to make Founder’s Day, a Founder’s Week with a variety of sports and music events as well as the Service itself. The format continued into the mid 1990s with music still being an important part of the service.

In the mid late 1990s, the school decided that because of changing lifestyles it would no longer support Founder’s Day in the established way and that older pupils would no longer need to attend. Nor did it have the boarding house that still sent pupils. The basic format remained the same though: the service, AGM, lunch, tours and matches.

In the 2000s because of rule changes in terms of who could play whom at what age in rugby, the OTA game became under increasing pressure. In the end it had to be played between two OT teams. The last match was 2014. Netball and hockey continued intermittently.

Beyond the organ, music was reintroduced in the 2010s by performances by the Willie Howe scholars. On one occasion the Lord Williams’s Festival Chorus took part.

How long Founder’s Day will continue is sadly debatable. Nowadays in the late 2010s it is usually only the older OTs who attend. Often no more than thirty.

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