Following on from last week’s post on Dr Frank Brunssen’s Outstanding Contribution award, we continue the prizewinning theme with a short blog by first-year French and German student Connie Lumsdon, who recently collected the A Level prize for French at her old school.

After being selected to win the A Level French prize at my previous school’s speech day, I had mixed feelings. I was, of course, excited to return to my hometown of Ripon in North Yorkshire for the first time since coming to university, but also nervous about returning to my old school.


Walking up to Ripon Grammar School for Speech Day, I felt as though nothing at all had changed – until I saw the new Sixth Form cohort (they were still in Year 11 when I was last there), and I suddenly felt very old! It was lovely to see all my old friends and classmates from school, and the very traditional format of Speech Day was almost like a tribute to the old-fashioned school assemblies I’d attended three times a week for the last seven years at school. The teachers processed through the hall and onto the stage, all wearing their university gowns in an array of colours. The speeches began, including a particularly poignant speech by Headmaster Martin Pearman as this was to be his last Speech Day before retirement, and a thoughtful speech by guest speaker Bridget Kendall MBE, whose father, David George Kendall, had attended the school before going on to become a renowned mathematician and statistician.

As the award ceremony began, 150 new Sixth Form students collected their book prizes one by one, before the A Level prizes were awarded. There were prizes for each subject, as well as prizes for sporting achievements and progress made over A Levels. My prize, the Constance Gilby Prize for French, earned me a hardback copy of Jessie Burton’s latest novel, The Muse, complete with silver embossed cover with the Ripon Grammar School logo – a lovely keepsake for my bookshelf. It was great to see the wonderful achievements of my former classmates and of those in younger years, although I must say that I missed Liverpool hugely whilst back in a small town such as Ripon again!


Connie’s prize – félicitations!