Memories of the Day – Hugh Newman

by Hugh Newman who spoke on behalf of the School on 9th December, 1931

Peering through the mists of fifty years, I remember 9th December, 1931 as a series of isolated events punctuated by changes of apparel.

Early morning saw the final buffing of the buttons, belt and boots prior to donning my carefully pressed cadet uniform. Having been made up to acting C. S. M. for the occasion I was keen to ensure I looked the part as we marched to St. Mary’s Church.

Here, for those of us in the school choir, came the first quick-change act into cassock and surplice for the service of dedication. This over, we were back on parade and away to the new school for the royal inspection.

How, where or whether I had lunch I do not recall – suffice to say schoolboys, however senior, were not invited to the official luncheon. The inevitable change into school uniform completed, I waited at the back of the hall for the last bars of Jerusalem to die away before making my lonely way down the centre of the hall and up the steps to the stage to deliver the address of welcome to Prince George.

I am told that it all went well but it was not until I was leaving the hall that I came down to earth with Mr. W. W. (Billy) Baxter looking up over his spectacles and whispering “Well done, Newman; now you know what it means to get it off your chest!”

With great relief I ran up the stairs to join the choir in the organ loft for the final part of the ceremony. Shortly after, a breathless third-former hurried up to say I was summoned to the Head’s study. Here I was presented to the Prince and I well recall a feeling of reassurance when I observed his hand trembling on a cigarette lighter which seemed reluctant to function.

The tree planting and the prince’s departure in that magnificent Bentley seemed almost an anticlimax to what had been without doubt the most memorable day in my ten years at the school.