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2001 Peterhouse Boys Speech Day

Mike Bawden’s Farewell Speech

Mr Chairman, Mr Todd, Governors, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to welcome our Guest of Honour, Neil Todd, the ex Head of Falcon, and his wife Sue, to our Peterhouse Speech Day.

John Carter
Today is a sad day for me as it is my last Speech Day; but it is also sad for the School in that this is the last Speech Day, which will be presided over by our Chairman of the Board, John Carter.

Eight years ago, when I was offered the job of Rector of Peterhouse, I had to make a decision as to whether to leave the security of a job back in England and step into the unknown. The decision to come here is something that Tiggy and I have never regretted, but the decision was made easier for us because we very quickly got to know John and his wife Angela, and indeed other members of the Board, and we had confidence that we were coming out to a school, which was being run by people with integrity and vision. He has been connected with Peterhouse, in one way or another, since the 1960's when his sons came to the school. He joined Exco in 1971 and was Chairman of Exco from 1982 until he took over as Chairman of the Board on the retirement of Bob Williams in 1997. I am sorry that Bob is not well enough to be here today.

We have been very fortunate as a school to have people such as John, who are prepared to give so much of their time to the school. Certainly in my early years as Rector, he put in an enormous amount of time on behalf of the school and in particular, masterminded the building of the Gibbs Centre. During our time at Peterhouse we have become very close friends of the Carters and would like to thank them in their role as surrogate grandparents to our two children.

New Science Block
For most of this year we have been able to take advantage of the facilities in our new Science Block. This will be officially opened immediately after speeches. For those who are worried about finances, you will be glad to hear that we were very fortunate that all the money came from an anonymous donor overseas, who paid for the whole building, and we had a further gift which ensured that the equipment in the building was state of the art. Therefore no money from fees was needed for this project.

I hope that our pupils will now become better scientists, and certainly better than the young American student whose definition of water was 'Water is composed of two gins, Oxygin and Hydrogin. Oxygin is pure gin, hydrogin is gin and water', and I hope that they do not think that "a vacuum is a large empty space where the Pope lives".
The Architect for this building, and indeed for the Humphrey Gibbs Centre, was Mark Claypole, who is with us here today. Peterhouse looks a very different place now to when I arrived here eight years ago, and much of the credit for this must go to the imagination and expertise of Mark and I would like to thank him for it. Much hard work went into the new Science Block, by the ex-Head of Science, Paul Davies, and the present Head, Suzanne Barrington. I would also like to thank the Garden Committee, who have been busy trying to make the surrounds look more attractive.

In honour of the long and dedicated service of John Carter, to this school, it has been decided that it should be named 'The John Carter Science Block'. John, is his normal humble way, did not think that this was a good idea, but he has reluctantly agreed to it.

2001 in retrospect
The year 2001, for many people in this country has been absolutely horrific. Many of our parents have been directly affected by the trouble that has been going on on the farms and everyone has been affected, at least indirectly, by the crippling effect that this is having upon the country.
At a school such as Peterhouse, we are trying to educate people how to live. Obviously what happens in the classroom, on the games field, in the theatre, etc., is important, but I hope that we are producing good quality boys with integrity, who have the ability to see the difference between what is right and what is wrong, and the guts to stand up for what is right. There is a general break-down in law and order in this country and people realise that they can get away with it. This is no signal to be sent to the young. Let us hope and pray that a lasting, peaceful and sensible outcome to the problem is made possible by the politicians in this country.
Despite what is happening in the country, I am glad to report that Peterhouse is on a high. We have managed to keep up our numbers, have lost fewer staff than most schools, have had very good academic results, and our sporting results this year have been quite outstanding.

Guy Cary
The year started with a letter that I received from Guy Cary, indicating that he had been invited to become Director of Outward Bound, Zimbabwe, and that he would be leaving at the end of the first term. This was a terrific blow for the school, as Guy did so much. He was Housemaster of Tinokura, was heavily involved in the music and drama, was a brilliant teacher of A Level English, ran the Toastmasters, Interact, etc. etc. I still remember his production of Murder in the Cathedral.
When he was in Tinokura, the quality of his reports was quite outstanding - though it must be said that on occasions he did not quite keep to my deadlines. I am glad that he is able to be here today, and I would like to thank him for everything he did for Peterhouse.
Outward Bound's gain is certainly Peterhouse's loss, but we have a talented staff and it was not long before people were able to take over the various jobs that he did.
In particular I would like to thank Seranne Jack, very much, for the work she has done in the Fieldsend Hall.

At the beginning of the year, our School Prefects went, once again, to the Outward Bound Centre at Chimanimani, and had a very profitable few days. I would like to thank David Langerman, Henry Muchauraya and the School Prefects, for the excellent job that they have done this year, and for the leadership that they have given the rest of the school. It would certainly not be true to say of them, as was once written about a potential officer in the Army, "The only reason that anyone might follow this young man, is out of a sense of curiosity".

Exam results
Our A Level pass rate of 90.8%, our second best ever, was again very good, and our O Level results, with a subject pass rate of 84.6%, with 92% of our boys obtaining five O Levels or more, were our third best ever. Four boys were awarded Academic Colours as they had obtained at least eight A Grades in their O Levels.
Not all of our boys are as talented, and at the end of last term I was trying to think of something positive to say about a particularly lethargic, sullen and often troublesome boy. Then my eyes drifted to the comment of an apparently exasperated colleague. "Last year Matthew hit rock bottom, this year he started drilling".

Phil Ward
The Lent Term of 2001 was a very special one as it was Phil Ward's 100th Term at Peterhouse. He has taught Mathematics, been Housemaster of Ellis, has run the Squash and has been Senior Master. We held a splendid dinner for him in March, to which many of his ex-pupils were invited. Having been Senior Master for 12 years, and also having reached the magic age of 60, Phil has decided to retire as Senior Master, but I am glad that he is remaining at the school and will continue to teach mathematics. I would like to thank him for all the hard work he has done as Senior Master, and in particular, I would like to thank Phil and Allen French, for so ably standing in for me when I have been away.

The staff
At present we have facilities here which are not equalled by any other school in Zimbabwe; but again, good facilities are worth nothing, if you do not have good teachers. I am afraid that, if we are going to continue to attract good teachers and, in fact, keep, good teachers at our schools, we are going to have to pay competitive salaries, and I am afraid that this means increasing fees regularly. I am delighted that we have managed to keep a good quality staff during these difficult times. I have talked, and will be talking today, about various good teachers who are leaving us, but I am also glad that we are continuing to attract good quality teachers. I am delighted to say that I have already appointed three very good teachers for the beginning of next term, including a new Director of Music. I would like to thank Brian Foakes for stepping into this particular breach, over the past three terms.

I am afraid that the rain during the first term upset our sport, although we did manage some Cricket. The Peterhouse Relays had to be cancelled but fortunately the sun eventually came out and we were able to host the Peterhouse Invitation event. We were delighted that we won this event outright for the first time since 1994, but disappointed that this had to be held here rather than at the National Stadium.
Our Rugby team went off on a tour to Dubai during the Easter holidays, where they won two games and lost narrowly to probably the leading English rugby school at the present time. They came back and had a marvellous season last term, beating all our Zimbabwe opponents and losing only the return match against Prince Edward, whom we had beaten in the first match of the season. We also had eight boys picked for the National side.
Our Hockey Team and Soccer Team have not done as well as they have done in previous years, as it has been a time for re-building. In both cases many of the boys will be back again next year.

One of the highlights of the year was the biennial festival. I must thank John Barrie for his superb organisation of this event. I was glad to see how well supported it was by parents and those who came had a marvellous day, with numerous activities going on throughout the day. I received many positive comments from parents about how much there was to do. I particularly enjoyed the performance of Grease on the Saturday night, and would like to thank Sue Vandoros and Keith Nicholas for all their hard work in producing this. I am always staggered by the talent of the boys and girls. The French play on the Friday night was also a great success. It is remarkable how, when something such as this is well done, it can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience, even for those who have forgotten most of the French that they ever knew.
On the weekend prior to the Festival, we had our Petrean Weekend which coincided with our Rugby Matches against Falcon. Some excellent Rugby was played, with Peterhouse ending up as convincing winners on the day.

Romey Bucheit
At the end of the second term we said goodbye to Romey Buchheit, who had been teaching English here for three years as she moved to England. She had been a tutor in Tinokura, and involved in Remedial teaching and counselling.
The life of a member of staff in a boarding school is a demanding one. Dedicated to the creation, not of an elite, but a mass of elites. Our aim is to try and discover each person's talents; to push them as far as their abilities and their talents will take them; we must turn and twist, and struggle to find that key, which will unlock each individual's enthusiasm and interest, and having found those first signs of potential, to nurture these, and to safeguard them through the turbulent years of adolescence, and through to young adulthood. In every worthwhile subject or activity, from Chemistry to Cricket, from Mathematics to Music, from Religious Studies to Rugby, there are successive barriers of difficulty, which hold back all but the most stout hearted. The teacher’s role is to help each pupil through the barriers, which once surmounted, will open up new fields of happiness and achievement. The fulfilment of these aims, depends on each individual member, but also on the team as a whole.

Reg and Martha Querl
We are always sorry to say goodbye to members of this team, whether it be on retirement or to move on to further challenges. One moving on to further challenges is Reg Querl.
It was towards the end of last holidays that we heard that Reg had been appointed Headmaster of Falcon from next term. I wonder when the last time was, that there were two Headmasters of Falcon in the audience at a Peterhouse Speech Day. Reg is our Director of Sport and during his time here has coached waterpolo, athletics and rugby, and I cannot think of a better way to go out than he has this year. In addition to this he has taught Geography and was Housemaster of Paget for eleven years. Over the last few years, he has been in charge of Prep School liaison and has worked very closely with the School Prefects. One of the areas where we will miss Reg very much, is Falconry. Reg started the Falconry at Peterhouse back in 1986 and it has grown from strength to strength. Many of his Falconers have gone on to become well-known Guides, and he has also been in charge of a breeding programme, releasing falcons to the wild. We will not miss however, the squawking and the dive-bombing just after they have been released! His wife Martha has taught Geography here, has been in charge of the girls when they are on this side of the road, and has run all the sport at the Girls School. They are going to be a very difficult couple to replace. I would like to thank them for all their hard work while they have been at Peterhouse, and would wish them both all the best in their future down in Matabeleland.

I have spent a long time talking about our teaching staff, but one should not forget, that a school such as Peterhouse, depends not just on a highly committed Commonroom, but on an equally committed non-teaching staff.
There are many unsung heroes here, without whom not only would the school not function, but without whom the facilities, the care, indeed the whole atmosphere, would not be the same. Our appreciation must go to the Sanatorium, the Catering and Domestic Staff. the Works and Grounds Staff, Secretaries, the Laboratory Assistants, the Bursar and his staff. The Bursar has to accept that he is cast in the role of the Villain of the Piece, for he is the one who has to say 'No' to those extra requests from staff. Communications skills, as well as his accounting, must be faultless, unlike the local Council, which recently sent out the following memo. 'Burial Fees are going up, in line with the cost of living'.
I am sorry to say that our Administration Officer, Rex Ade, is leaving us at the end of this term, to become Bursar at Barwick School, and I do wish him all the best in his future position.

We have had an outstanding Cricket side this year, having won most of our games and in the last month we have beaten Falcon twice, although it must be said they have beaten us once. I hope that Neil does not mind me mentioning our victories over Falcon - it is an indication of our respect for our major rival down in Matabeleland.
Our Squash is strong once again, and our rowers have done well.
Our Basketball Team did very well to get through to the Sprite Top Schools Tournament, here they managed to defeat the holders of the cup, but lost their other games.

IT and curricula issues
Earlier in the year I visited various schools in England to see how they were coping with the new AS Levels and also to look at their IT Departments. There has been much criticism of the new AS Levels in the English Press, mainly because of the pressure put on pupils in the Lower VIth year. The situation here is slightly different, as the AS exams that we are doing do not involve as many papers, and in fact, the AS Levels in England are going to be changed, to move more in line with what we are doing. It is of course a worry that there might be too many exams, but at least it should mean that people work hard during the first year of the A Level, whereas many people in the past have taken a year off.

We have got some new ideas for our own IT Department and we are hoping to expand this. It is our intention that pupils should go for the International Computer Driving Licence, which is more applicable to their needs than the present Pitmans examinations. It is important that we do get Internet access and that boys learn how to use this very powerful tool.

It was said in 1943, that there is a world market for about five computers. Some ten years later, one of Britain's leading mathematicians and computer scientists said, "We have a computer here in Cambridge, one in Manchester and one at the National Physical Laboratory. I suppose there ought to be one in Scotland, but that's about all." Things have changed somewhat since then.
I would like to get to the stage, where each House has some computers and that the boys have their own e-mail addresses and access to the Internet. This may seem to be a long way off, especially when a computer costs approximately the same as one terms school fees, whereas in England you would probably be able to buy eight computers for a terms school fees.

Those of you who are bored, and have let your eyes wander over the rest of the programme, will have seen that, at the end of the prizes, there is a new cup, which is being presented for the first time this year, to the best house. The Committee has been working through the year, to ensure that everything is taken into account, from academics, to sports, and culture, but I am afraid that you will have to wait a little longer to see who has won it.

One of the great benefits of Peterhouse is that we have three schools working under one umbrella. I would like to say how much I have enjoyed working with Graham Peebles and Jon Calderwood during my time here, and would like to thank them for their support. Both have done excellent jobs as Headmasters of their respective schools. One of Peterhouse's strengths is the fact that we have girls in the upper school. I was worried the other day though, when I saw a boy emerging from the library clutching a large volume on which I could see 'How to Hug' clearly printed on the spine. This called for further investigation. Fortunately it turned out that the book was the 13th volume of Encyclopedia Brittanica

I was delighted when the Governors announced that Sue Davidson would be taking over from Jon as Head of the Girls' School from next term. I do wish her all the best in her new appointment. One person I haven't mentioned today is my wife. Having arrived at Peterhouse one week after our wedding, we have always agreed that the last eight years have been our honeymoon. Certainly, Tiggy feels that her new life of ironing and washing in England, will be the end of it. Looking after me, bringing up two small children, teaching Art and running the Garden Committee, is no small task. I would like to thank her for her support during the years that we have been at Peterhouse. The whole family has had a super time in Zimbabwe, and we will be very sorry to leave. Having a young family is always fun, but it can also be slightly embarrassing. I enjoyed the story of another Headmaster, whose seven year old son went up to the Chairman of the Board at a Cocktail Party, and said, 'Please drink like a fish, Daddy says you do'.

I have been reading through some past Peterhouse magazines, and have looked at Fred Snell's last speech as Rector of Peterhouse, in 1967.
From the beginnings of the long process of evolution, it has been true that change is the law of life, and adaptation to change, the condition of survival, and the secret of man's success. All history is there to teach us that a people that clings blindly to the past, is doomed. In education, more than in any other field, it is necessary that this should be remembered. It is for the future, and for the future of thirty years ahead, rather than five or ten, that we have to educate each generation.
The times in which we live are those of very rapid change, and nowhere more so than in Africa. While, therefore, we must do all that we can to identify, preserve and adapt, that which is good in the legacy we have inherited from the past, we must also muster our courage to look into the future, for more than anything else, it is lack of courage which distorts the vision.

True in 1967 and still true in 2001. He spoke about the 'A' level pass rate being 82.7% and the '0' level pass rate, being 57.7%. So things have certainly improved since then. He also quoted some words spoken at the laying of the foundation stone in July 1954.
We have to educate not only for time but for eternity. We have to send our boys out into a troubled world, in which there is a chaos of values, which bids fair to bring our civilisation down in ruins. What, in such a world, is more important, than that a man's "heart should surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found". For this reason, it is vitally necessary that a school should be, in the greatest measure possible, a living Christian community. That is an ideal, of which we must indeed fall short, but I desire, nevertheless, to nail the colours to the mast at the outset. Peterhouse will go forward from this beginning, full of hope, dedicated to the ideals of Godliness, and sound learning; and determined under God, to serve this country, and through it, all mankind.
He ended his speech by quoting the Verse from St. Matthew's Gospel, from which our motto is taken - 'The rains came down, the floods rose, the wind blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall because its foundations were on the rock.'
That quotation is as true now as at any time in the school's history.

I will be very keen to watch how Peterhouse progresses over the next few years. I have no doubt that my successor, Jon Calderwood, will do an excellent job and take the school through to its 50th Anniversary and beyond. I wish him and Jenny all the best, and I hope that he enjoys it as much as Tiggy and I have over the last eight years.
I inherited a great school from Alan Megahey. I hope that I am handing over a school to Jon, which is even greater.

Thank you very much.


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