The Prescotian Webzine

Founder's Day Service, Prescot Parish Church

The ringing of the newly restored bells welcomed a large assembly to Prescot Parish Church for the traditional service. Pupils and staff of the School, together with parents and friends, were joined by a goodly number of Old Prescotians many of whom had travelled hundreds of mites to be present. Civic and other dignitaries entered the church during the singing of a processional hymn and a number of brightly coloured banners were borne to the chancel. These had been made in the Technology department of the School to mark the Anniversary. The Rev T.M. Steel, Vicar cf Prescot and Chair of Foundation Governors of the School, presided and the commemoration was read by the Headteacher, Mr P A Barlow. There was also a reading by the Deputy Headteacher, Rev F. Naylor. An instrumental item, Brahms Clarinet Sonata, was rendered by Fiona Baker, Year 11, and prayers of intercession were offered by persons associated with the School including present and former pupils. The address was given by the Rt Rev John Waine, Bishop of Chelmsford, a former pupil of the School (1941-1948).

Bishop John commenced his address by commenting upon the close connection of his family with Prescot and his own association with the School and the Church.

"It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to come to Prescot this morning," he said. "First of all, for me it's a great thrill to come back to Prescot. I was born and brought up in Prescot. My parents were......and my grandparents, too. So we're a Prescot family and, although it's ages since I was here, I still get news of Prescot. The parish magazine comes every month, sent by my cousin. Just occasionally, if I'm very good, he sends with the magazine a bag of Uncle Joe's Mint Balls which you can't buy in the south of England. So to come back to Prescot today is something which I find very moving. It's so good to come to Prescot Church because this is the church I was brought up in. Its my spiritual home and I sang as a choirboy here in Prescot Church and 1 discovered my vocation for the ministry here in Prescot Church.

I'm sure it's true to say that the first of these Founder's Day Services here in this church was held in 1944 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Prescot Grammar School. I was a boy at school and on that occasion I played the organ for the service and I remember that very vividly and the choir sang the anthem 'Let the bright Seraphim' and 1 had to practise it very hard to get it right.

Because this is our 450th Anniversary we are here to rejoice in that fact and to celebrate it. Now, there's not a great deal of rejoicing at the moment. When you go around, you don't see a lot of people with smiles on their faces: perhaps it's not hard to understand. If you were Mike Walker, the manager of Everton, you wouldn't have a smile on your face either - and I say that as a life-long Evertonian. I used to say, I still do, -that anyone can support Liverpool but to support Everton you have to have faith and stamina. So. all you Evertonians here, take heart, all will be well. Or if you were Tony Blair I don't suppose you'd actually have a smile on your face: on Tuesday having received the adulation of your party and on Wednesday having been voted down on Clause 4. Or, to be more serious, if you were a resident of Sarajevo you wouldn't have a smile on your face either as you prepared for another winter of deprivation and danger while the politicians played their power games and you paid the price. And, of course the mention of Sarajevo would lead on to many other places in the world where there are crises of one kind and another."

He went on to say that the present generation is better informed than any other and tends to become burdened with all the anxieties that are going on in the world and that sometimes one tends to los. sight of the good things and that there still are in the many blessings that we receive. Bishop John compared our own circumstances with those of people in other parts of the world, some of which he had visited. Apart from our better quality of life we have religious and political freedom In some other places education just did not exist.

"So, today we thank God for our School, for our Founder, Gilbert Lathum and for all who have taught and served the School down the ages. Some within living memory we can think of. But we don't take it for granted and we're grateful to God.

"Today, through the media, there is a readiness to seek to destroy confidence in the law. the health service, the Church and in education in general. We do not rejoice in that which is good but we are ready to believe that things are not as they should be.

"When the quality of life begins to be determined by economics, then there win be casualties... . Education is about leading people out to explore the fields of Knowledge, the realm of ideas and the aspirations of the spirit

"The motto of the School, Futuram Civitatem Inquirimus exhorts us to seek a future state; a community other than that of the present. Problems lie ahead for educationalists and we should heed St Paul who taught that problems can always be overcome with the help of God.

"All of us who belong to this School, past pupils and present, pray God that we may spend all our best endeavours to enabling it to fulfil its purposes. Amen "

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