Head hailed at his final awards nights

Students celebrated the successes of the past to inspire them for the future at an awards ceremony to remember, the last for their headmaster whose impact was hailed immense.

Staff, students, parents and civic dignitaries heard a catalogue of successes stretching back decades as Ripon Grammar School staged its annual Speech Day.

For headmaster Martin Pearman the awards ceremony was a bitter-sweet occasion as it was his last before retiring next summer after 13 years in the post.

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Ripon Grammar School chairman of governors Peter Mason told guests, including the celebrated journalist Bridget Kendall: “Outstanding schools don’t just happen; they require committed leadership and Mr Pearman’s impact has been immense.”

The ceremony heard how the school had seen one of its best ever years with academic and sporting achievements cementing Ripon Grammar School as one of the best in the North and top in Yorkshire.

Mr Pearman said he would miss being part of the school community but the time was right to retire and the school was in excellent shape.

He added: “It has been so rewarding for me to have a career creating opportunities for young people to fulfil their potential.”

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Mr Pearman listed the many successes he had witnessed, including one student achieving seven grade As in their A Levels before going on to become the top student at Cambridge University through his work as chairman of the Chemistry Olympiad Committee.

He also highlighted the many students playing sport at the highest level and spoke with pride about former pupil and the country’s top diver Jack Laugher, who won gold and silver at the Rio Olympics.

Ms Kendall, well known as the BBC’s former diplomatic correspondent, presented a host of prizes for academic achievement, sporting prowess and service to the community and school to students who completed their GCSEs in the summer and to those who have since left following A Levels.

She told guests that she was immensely proud of Ripon, where her grandparents had run a haberdashery and women’s clothes shop and her father had attended the grammar school.

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“During my childhood I came to Ripon and I remember it as a magical place full of charm,” said Ms Kendall, who has just become the first female Master of Peterhouse College, Cambridge.

“My father, David, developed glandular fever as a boy and had to be home schooled. When he joined the grammar school he did very well and he loved astronomy. During a trip to the Royal Observatory, the Astronomer Royal told him to study maths and he loved it.”

During the Second World War he was seconded to the New Scientific Research Department where he became known as the ‘British father of probability’.

Ms Kendall told students: “As you consider your choices think about what you love, what you enjoy doing and hence, probably, you will excel. Stand out from the crowd, don’t shy away from difficult challenges and give your best.”

Trophies and Special Award winners:

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David Fisher Prize: Mate Pocs; Marguerite Terry Prize: Rachael Pond; Ripon High School for Girls’ Jubilee Prize: Emily Evans; Old Riponians’ Prize: Roscoe Savage; Poetry by Heart Trophy: Grace Branch; Althea Charlton Trophy: Annabelle Blyton; Brian Stanley Cup: Benjamin Pease; Dyson Trophy: Timothy Pope; Operatic Society Trophy: Matilda Fallows; Deborah Williams Trophy: Anna Durkin; Miss Cullingworth’s Prize: Erin-Claire Pallott; Harrogate Borough Council Prize: James Andrews; Cathedral Prize: Julia Atherley; Rotary Award: David Owens; Da Costa Award for Outstanding Female Sporting Achievement: Amy Gatford;

Da Costa Award for Outstanding Male Sporting Achievement: Harry Cleary; Gladys Hall Memorial Rose Bowl: Emma Hope; Philip Mortimer Trophy: Jack Baker; Bill Latto Trophy: Georgina Watkiss; Robert Atkinson Memorial Trophy: James Donaldson.