Celebrations at Friends' School Lisburn annual speech day
The Guest of Honour was Old Scholar Heather McLachlan, Regional Director of the National Trust in Northern Ireland.
The Chair of the Board of Governors, Andrew Greer, opened proceedings with a short period of silence. He thanked his predecessor in the role, Philip McDonagh, for his work as Chair and paid tribute to former headmaster of Friends’, Trevor Green, who had died on August 16.
He congratulated pupils on their achievements and thanked staff for their hard work, calling on the Secretary of State to provide funding for a pay settlement for teachers which would bring their remuneration into line with teachers in the rest of the UK.
Heather McLachlan received a warm reception and gave an inspirational speech to the pupils who had sat examinations in the summer. She added her congratulations to those in attendance and began by sharing some of her experiences in school and her journey through higher education, which had led her eventually to the position she now holds in the National Trust.
Stephen Moore, Principal, added his thanks to the outgoing Chair for the support and encouragement he had provided, and also paid tribute to Trevor Green.
“An Old Scholar of Friends’, Trevor Green made a wonderful contribution to the life of the school during his headship between 1989 – 2001,” he said. “Not only did he oversee new building work, including the Sports Hall, the new Prep School and the Technology block; he was also committed to high standards and oversaw important developments in the curriculum. He was also a keen supporter of the extra-curricular life of the school and our sympathies go to his wife, Jean, and his daughters, Lorna and Margaret.”
Mr Moore welcomed new members of staff and thanked those who had moved on from Friends’ at the end of the school year, including Simon Patterson, who had been appointed as Principal of Fort Hill Integrated Primary School; Bill Londsdale, who had retired after 33 years at Friends’; Patrick O’Grady, who had joined the staff in 1999 and had spent the last three years on a career break in China; and three long-serving technicians: Susan Broddle in HE; Jill Black in Art; and Paul Hunter in Technology.
The Principal went on to highlight pupils’ achievements in public examinations, saying that they had once again done remarkably well. He added that, although results across the system had gone down as awarding bodies had started to move back to 2019 standards, outcomes in Friends’ had held up well.
Mr Moore finished by saying that, although these achievements were based on the hard work and dedication of individuals, they would not have been possible without the support of others.
“As we have been preparing for our 250th anniversary, a milestone we will be celebrating next year, I have become more conscious of the debt we owe to others and have gained an appreciation of the wider context of Friends’ School,” he said.
"It is humbling to think what those who have gone before us have accomplished and to realise that without them, Friends’ would not be the school it is today. I have already mentioned the contribution of Trevor Green, but there are many more men and women to whom we should be grateful. The values they have passed on to us and the culture they have developed are the bedrock of what we celebrate here today.
“It is a legacy we should cherish and a heritage we should nurture. And when I look at the young people in the hall today, I am filled with optimism and the confidence that we, too, can leave a legacy for future generations, not only in this school, but in the world beyond Friends’.”