The King’s School in Chester has just enjoyed a full weekend of celebrations to mark a massive 475 years of history and education.
The celebrations got under way with a special commemoration service held at Chester Cathedral. The fanfare that sounded as the choir and clergy entered the Cathedral was composed by Danny Ortiz, head of brass, especially for this service, and was played by musicians who are current and former students at King’s.
Hundreds of special guests, including many former pupils, were treated to a captivating and inspirational address by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams.
The service included contributions from several former pupils, including readings by renowned actors and former King’s pupils Ronald Pickup and Nickolas Grace, an enchanting musical solo by soprano Zara Fyfe, and an organ voluntary from Mark Swinton.
Following the service, guests and former pupils returned to The King’s School for the official opening of The King’s Walk. This archive exhibition is displayed in the tower and shows snapshots of King’s history through the centuries.
The King’s Walk was officially opened by Lord Williams and all guests thoroughly enjoyed touring the exhibition and reading about the school’s colourful 475 years of history.
Sixth form students led tours of the school, giving visitors the chance to explore, many being delighted by all the changes. A couple of former pupils were returning to the school for the first time in more than 50 years.
Guests were then invited to the 1541 Restaurant for the Headmaster’s Celebration Luncheon, where there was the opportunity to catch up with friends, old and new, while enjoying a delicious three course meal.
The lunch concluded with the presentation of the Leading Lights Awards which recognise and celebrate the success and contributions of former King’s pupils to society.
Awards are granted to those previous pupils who have used their education to excel both professionally and personally and deserve special recognition.
Nickolas Grace introduced the recipient and presented the first ever award to Ronald Pickup, for his accomplishments as one of Britain’s most versatile and enduringly successful character actors.
Awards were also announced for Arnold Cooke, for longstanding service to rowing, and John Everard, for outstanding achievements in the diplomatic service.
The celebrations concluded with a 475th anniversary ball, held in a Tudor-themed marquee in the grounds where 300 guests enjoyed a drinks reception followed by a four course dinner, with attendance from current parents and previous King’s pupils from as far as New Zealand, Canada and America.
Nickolas Grace entertained the audience with an after dinner speech.
The weekend of celebrations saw the launch of the King’s 100 Challenge – a 25 year vision to raise £30 million by the 500th anniversary. This fund will be used to add 100 extra bursaries and assisted places at King’s.
Headteacher Chris Ramsey said: “I am delighted to use this weekend of celebration to announce this ambitious vision. The aim of the King’s 100 Challenge is to enable 100 more children to join King’s, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay. I want King’s to represent the whole community and give every child the opportunity of a King’s education.”