CCF Camp Penally

In late June, the Army section of the Shiplake College CCF travelled to Penally in South Wales for this year’s central camp, run by 160 Brigades Cadet Training Team.

The multi-activity camp began with a field exercise, meaning the Shiplake cohort travelled directly to the Sennybridge training area near Brecon, rather than heading for the more comfortable Penally camp. Despite a promising weather forecast for the week ahead, the coach departed Oxfordshire in the rain and the thought of a wet night in the woods filled the coach with a sense of impending doom.

Unusually, the weather improved having crossed the border into Wales, and after a last pit stop and meal at McDonalds, smiling faces had returned. The Cadet Training Team was extremely well organised and pitched the training exercise at exactly the right level for our cadets, teaching new skills and improving those previously learnt. The highlight of the overnight exercise was without doubt the Ambush; nothing pleases a cadet more than lying in wait for unsuspecting regular soldiers to casually walk into their trap. After a barrage of blank simulated firing the bad guys were taken care of and it was back to base for a good night’s sleep under the trees.

The following day the group was collected by coach and taken to Penally camp; their main base for the week. After cleaning and sorting out their field kit the cadets were shown to their accommodation and given time to settle in. The Training Team arranged evening activities for each group. After sampling their first army meal, the cadets settled down to watch Robocop.

The rest of the week was filled with a great range of activities including shooting on the range, practicing navigation skills around a local country park and a fantastic array of outdoor pursuits including climbing, abseiling and kayaking.                          

No activities were scheduled for the final day so Contingent Commander Steve MacPherson decided to reward the cadets for all their hard work and press ups with a day at Oakwood Park, a local theme park. The cadets had great time on the rides but without doubt the tea cups were their favorite. More screams were heard on this ride than any other.

The College would like to thank 160 Brigade for organising such a smooth and enjoyable camp. The cadets also deserve credit as they maintained a fantastic attitude throughout the week and did the College proud. Whilst Shiplake did not win any prizes, we did achieve multiple first class shots on the range, not bad for boys who are novices in this activity. The Shiplake CCF is changing next year and we are confident the positive attitude shown by the cadets at this camp will be passed on to all other pupils to make it an even better success next year.

More photos from the camp can be viewed on our Flickr gallery

Chain-Link Cufflinks Still Available

Shiplake College cufflinks are still available in the traditional chain-link style, for a bargain price of just £20.

The timeless products, featuring the traditional College crest, are popular with current pupils, Old Vikings and parents. They provide an excellent memento of your association with Shiplake, no matter what relationship you have with the school. 

 The cufflinks are available for collection from the College or they can be posted to you for a small additional fee. All proceeds go to the Boat Club Supporters’ Association.

If you are interested in purchasing a pair, please email


Hogan Impresses at GB Trials

A selection of Shiplake’s most promising rowers travelled to Nottingham earlier this month for the latest round of GB rowing trials.

Accompanied by Mr Tom Fitton, we initially put two pairs forward for the first race off. Max Hearnden was partnered with Joe from Winchester College, while Harry Hogan was due to row with a friend from Reading Blue Coat. However, after he pulled out with illness, fellow Shiplake 1st VIII member Harry Berkley stepped in at the last minute.

With only the top seven pairs set to qualify for the final round of trials, the pressure was on immediately. Max and Joe came in 16th place, while Harry and Harry earned a remarkable 10th best time. Whilst this was not enough to qualify automatically, it was a phenomenal effort given their lack of practice together.

In view of this, Harry Hogan was invited to attend the final trials and joined up with another rower whose pairs partner had pulled out injured. Unfortunately Harry did not make the GB boats but he came very close. The whole experience was extremely valuable for him and puts him in the top 35 juniors in the country. Harry’s stepfather Martin Cruddace commented: “We are really proud of Harry and the GB under 23’s better watch out over the next year or two!”

Max and Harry Hogan will be hoping to continue their excellent progress at university next year while Harry Berkley will once again row for the Shiplake 1st VIII as he enters Year 13. 

Artists Impress at Private View

At the end of each academic year, the Shiplake Art Department hosts a Private View to show off the work produced by GCSE and Sixth Form artists across the year.

This year’s event was as exciting and vibrant as ever. Pupils’ increasing confidence with experimenting with different types of media was clearly evidenced, as a variety of paintings, sculptures and other 3D work was displayed in the Great Hall.

Many Old Vikings popped in to inspect the artwork as the event coincided with their drinks reception to bid farewell to staff moving on to pastures new. The atmosphere and ‘buzz’ around the room suggested that all visitors were impressed with what they saw.

Head of Art Mrs Gillings commented: “The diverse range of work clearly displayed pupils’ willingness to work to their strengths. It was lovely to hear complements from various visitors, while the pupils themselves were impressed with the overall appearance of the exhibition. This is a credit to them as of course it was their work on display! All those that took depart deserve our congratulations and I am looking forward to working with many of them in the new John Turner Building next year.”

The Private View event also saw the launch of our ‘Secret Postcard Exhibition’. All entries are warmly encouraged ahead of the new Art Department’s unveiling in September. 

Memorable Send Off for Sixth Form Leavers

Departing Year 13 pupils and their parents joined staff on the final evening of term for the 2014 Leavers’ Ball.

With a black tie dress code, gentleman donned stylish dinner suits while ladies arrived in glamorous ball gowns. The Head of College, Tom Arnold, and Senior Girl, Sissi Pongratz, arrived in VIP fashion in a chauffeur driven 1960s Ford Mustang.

In total, there were over 200 guests at the splendid event, which began with a drinks and canapé reception on the lawn in front of the Prize-Giving marquee. Legendary Catering Manager Mr Steve Beaumont, overseeing his final Leavers’ Ball at Shiplake, then called diners into the marquee for a fabulous three course meal. The exquisite duck main course was a particular hit with guests as they reminisced about the previous two or five years the pupils have spent at the College.

The meal was followed by dancing to excellent music from five-piece band Freeze Frame. After burning off energy on the dancefloor, the event ended with a traditional English breakfast served in the Great Hall in the early hours of the morning.

College Housemaster Mr Nick Brown, who himself is leaving the House to take on a new role in September, commented: “I thoroughly enjoyed this year in College House, due in large part to the efforts of the boys and their families. The atmosphere was great and I hope that all pupils have happy memories of your last year at Shiplake. I certainly will of my final year as Housemaster.”

The students will of course return to the College on Thursday 14 August to collect their A Level results. The majority will begin university courses across the country in September, with some choosing to take time out on a gap year and others bravely entering the world of work. The College then hopes to welcome all leavers back to Shiplake as Old Vikings at various events in the months and years to come.

Please click here if you wish to purchase professional photos from the evening.


Successes Recognised at Final Assembly

On the penultimate day of the Summer Term, pupils gathered in the prize giving marquee for the final assembly of the academic year. This gave everyone a chance to celebrate and recognise notable achievements, ahead of the main prize giving ceremony on the following day. The assembly particularly focussed on accomplishments in co-curricular domains including sport, outdoor pursuits and performing arts.

The assembly began with Duke of Edinburgh’s Award staff handing out certificates to successful pupils. Bronze award winners spent three months working on skills such as public speaking and cookery before completing a wet and windy expedition. Silver winners worked extremely hard to reach their goals but found it to be a very worthwhile experience. Gold award winners were deservedly recognised but will receive their awards later this year at Buckingham Palace from a member of the Royal family. Members of the CCF were then given their basic army certificates.

Outgoing Senior Master Mr Richard Mannix stepped up on stage to commend pupils and Houses who have behaved exceptionally this year. The Bevan Trophy is awarded to the House who were awarded the most excellence slips per pupil. In total, 3,863 excellence slips were awarded to pupils in Years 9 to 13. Skipwith came in 3rd place with 9.08 slips per pupil, last year’s winners Everett came 2nd with 11.02 while Orchard claimed the top prize with 11.70. The Graham Vick Lower School Trophy went to the Olympians who edged the Titans by just one more excellence slip per person.

Star performers across the College were Joseph Perry (Olympians, 41), Toby Gorringe (Titans, 41), Duncan Eglinton (Titans, 45), Joshua O’Hare (Olympians, 46), Will Bailey (Y9, 35), Kieran Leach (Y10, 51) and Freddy Ellis (Y11, 22).

Next, Director of Music Mr Paul Jones invited pupils who have excelled in the arts to receive commendations, half and full colours. A full list of winners can be viewed here. The Neilson Trophy, which combines the results of the inter-House Drama, Art and Music competitions, was won by Orchard House. Head of House Charlie Hancock was delighted to receive the trophy.

Director of Sport Mr Austin Kersey summarised the exploits of pupils in summer sports rowing, cricket and tennis. Our rowers’ successes have been well documented, particularly the medal-winning crews at National Schools’. Cricketers Matt Dalrymple and Miles Bridgeman put in exceptional individual performances, with best innings of 112 and 79 respectively. In tennis, Marcus Hillman and Laurenz Class made progress in the national ‘Road to Wimbledon’ competition while the College reached previously unchartered territory in the AEGON Championships. A full list of colours and award winners in tennis and cricket can be viewed here.

Rugby awards were handed out before Christmas but Alex Collis and Bodie Deane received their rugby badges. Girls’ Sport Captain Sophie Arnold was given another special mention for her outstanding contribution to sport at Shiplake. She has been an absolute credit to the College throughout her two years. Eleanor Waite has been appointed as Sophie’s successor for next year.

The results of all remaining inter-House events  were revealed, with all points contributing towards the Baldry Trophy for all House sport. To cap a remarkable year for the House, this was also won by Orchard.

Deputy Headmaster Mr Rob Jones invited newly elected prefects to collect their badges and ties from the Headmaster. Congratulations to Yeem Chanthanawan (Head of College), Daniel DiGiulio, Freddie Ireland, Anthony Miarli, Charles Marsden, Will Janes, George Lawley, Sam Hallatt, Phillip Green, Charles Galligan, Tom Harman and Emma Haynes (Deputy Head of College) who will all be prefects next year. Emma Haynes also becomes Deputy Head Chapel Warden, and she joined Head Chapel Warden Barney Aldridge on stage to receive their gowns.

The final part of the service allowed pupils to bid farewell to leaving teachers, which culminated in a standing ovation for Richard Mannix.

Congratulations to all award winners and to Orchard House for their resounding and consistent successes in House events this year. 

Mrs Pearson Awarded Camel Cup

The Camel Cup is awarded annually by the Senior Common Room to a new member of staff who has made an exceptional impression on the College across a range of domains.

As the 2012-13 winner, Mr Jack Caine had the honour, and pressure, of choosing this year’s winner. With so many new teachers making such a significant impression in their first year at Shiplake, Mr Caine had a very tough task. After much deliberation, the Camel Cup was awarded to Mrs Sian Pearson.

Drama teacher Mrs Pearson has quickly become a hugely popular member of the Shiplake community, amongst pupils, staff and parents. Since day one, she has thrown herself into every aspect of College life. The enthusiasm and confidence which Sian displays suggests she has been here a great deal longer than 10 months.

Mr Caine commented: “As well as being part of an academic department that has extensive co-curricular commitments, Mrs Pearson has also been involved in the Duke of Edinburgh’s award, Sport, Welsh House and many other things. She has also put what is best for the boys in front of her personal interests and ambitions. Most importantly, she has done all of this with a smile on her face, and nothing is ever too much for her.”

Congratulations Mrs Pearson, whose camel impression is fitting of a very worthy winner!

"Music Has Arrived at Shiplake"

"Music has arrived at Shiplake" were the parting words of the Headmaster as he congratulated the many performers who took part in the Summer Concert in June. The evening, which took place in the beautiful Prize Giving marquee, was a culmination of a lot of hard-work from all the pupils and staff this year. This was a particularly impressive array of performances considering that the department has been working out of Portakabins all year, ahead of a move into the new John Turner Building over the summer!

The concert began with a performance from the Shiplake Community Choir, directed by Miss Louise Rapple. Following their rendition of Bill Withers's Lean on Me, Louise presented a cheque for £1,172 to Wendy Carlson, a representative from the Headway charity based in Henley, which works with people who have suffered a brain injury. This money was raised following the Shiplake Community Choir's first solo concert, which took place in the Christ Church Centre in Henley to an audience of over 200. Members of the choir then surprised Louise with a gift in honour of Louise's upcoming wedding to fellow-choir member and electric and bass guitar teacher Patrick Moore.

The variety of ensembles and genres on display was evident from the start, with the Saxophone Group performing a toe-tapping arrangement of The Simpsons theme tune, followed by a beautiful setting of The Lord's Prayer by the Chamber Choir, taken from the African Sanctus Mass by David Fanshawe, and a striking solo performance of Romance by Camille Saint-Saëns, given by Matthew Aldridge on the French Horn.

Hearts were melted as the Lower School Chorale boys took to the stage for their performance of the medieval round Sumer Is Icumen In, announcing that summer had arrived! The mood changed quickly again with the String Ensemble's upbeat Drunken Sailor, and a soulful Ain't No Sunshine by the Barbershop Boys. The Funk Band ended the first half with a rousing brass-heavy display of Kryptonite by Hypnotic Brass.

Audience members were drawn back into the marquee from enjoying a drink on the front lawn in the evening sunshine, when the Samba Band loudly announced the start of the second half. The Samba Stomp was a fun and rhythmic piece, which even included making use of kettles and bins from the kitchens!

The BTEC Band brought a contemporary edge to the concert with a performance of Demons by alternative rock band Imagine Dragons, with Lucy Collings and Reiss Simpson both demonstrating exceptional vocal skills. The Clarinet Group implemented a jazz element to the evening with an arrangement on the classic Take Five by Dave Brubeck. Next year's Head of College, Yeem Chanthanawan, then gave a brilliant solo saxophone performance of Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street, including the famously haunting saxophone riff.

Charles Marsden and the Motown Band got the marquee rocking with Jimmy Cliff's You Can Get It If You Really Want, before the moment that many had been waiting for arrived - the performance by The Heads. Outgoing Head of College, Tom Arnold, and Headmaster Gregg Davies, gave a very accomplished performance of I Got It From Agnes, which was brilliantly adapted to pay homage to our Year 13 leavers. The Headmaster then stayed on stage to be part of the first performance by the newly-formed Staff Choir, who tackled Queen's We Are the Champions with much enthusiasm.

Audience participation was on the cards at the Senior Orchestra gave a suitable finale with Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance. Part-way through, conductor Mr Ham encouraged the audience to stand and sing along to Land of Hope and Glory - extremely triumphant but with a lack of flag waving and bobbing!

The Senior Orchestra were then joined on stage by the Lower School musicians, who gave a combined performance of Soul Bossa Nova, which memorably featured in the Austin Powers films. This was so good, that the Headmaster demanded an encore!

With two ensemble rooms, seven practice rooms, a recording studio and a recital theatre, we can only imagine what the Music Department will be able to produce when they move into their new location in the John Turner Building in September.

For lots more photos of the concert, please go to our Flickr Gallery.

Fashion Shoot for Model Student

1st VIII rower Henry Cawthorne took a break from his AS Level examinations and intense training ahead of racing at the Henley Royal Regatta, to travel to Stonor Park for a special fashion shoot arranged by the Henley Standard in June.

Henry was teamed with BBC Radio Berkshire presenter Tim Dellor, as they were both kitted out in an array of formal attire suitable for a day visiting the Regatta. Henry estimated he had to change about 40 times within the 90 minute shoot, covering a variety of coloured chinos, shirts, blazers, shoes and ties!

Henry told the Standard that the decision on what to wear to the Regatta was easy for him though as "when I'm not competing I will be wearing smart chinos with my Shiplake College Blazer". Henry was then whisked away from the shoot to get to Henley in time for another training session on the water!

Shiplake Appoints Its First Director of Rowing

Shiplake College has appointed Dave Currie as its first Director of Rowing. Dave, previously the 1st VIII coach at Abingdon School, lives in Henley with his wife Charlotte and two young boys Luca and Finley.

Dave will be looking to build on the College's excellent reputation for rowing, which has continued to increase in popularity, by implementing a programme to achieve a long-term vision of growth and development for the Boat Club.

Gregg Davies, Headmaster, comments: "With support from the governors, Shiplake has appointed a Director of Rowing to take the College to the next level and gain a world class rowing reputation. Free from timetabled commitments, Dave will have responsibility for all aspects of the rowing programme in order to establish a structure that enables top-level success as well as wide participation at all levels for its boys and girls.

In order to make the most of the College's proximity to the River Thames, the role will also encompass grassroots participation to develop a community of rowing beyond the College itself. Dave will look to build on the well-established and popular summer rowing camps, and work closely with the Shiplake Vikings Rowing Club based at the College, both of which involve a large number of boys and girls from a wide range of schools."

Dave Currie says that "Joining Shiplake College to become their first Director of Rowing is an exciting opportunity. Having lived in Henley for 13 years I have always seen Shiplake College as a fantastic rowing school. My ambition is to put Shiplake College at the forefront of school rowing. It is very clear how supportive the whole College is towards the Boat Club, which was a major factor for me accepting the position."

Dave will be working alongside the College's group of dedicated and expert coaches, including former GB Lightweight and Leander Club rower Hugh Mackworth-Praed; former GB Junior and Leander Club rower Jon Brownley; and Tom Crisford, who has rowed at HRR and National Schools and captained the Southampton University 1st VIII. The College has more recently welcomed Ian Munro and Rob Jones, former Directors of Rowing from George Heriot's School and Clifton College, and Peter Muhley, a member of the winning crew in the Wyfold Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in 2012. Other coaches include Sally Satch, mother of Olympic and GB medallist Will Satch; Rebecca McKeller who has rowed and coached at school, university and club level; Tom Armstrong, who rowed for the 1st VIII at Exeter University and has school and university coaching experience; Keith Settle, who has coached crews at previous schools and Molesey Boat Club to reach the HRR and Coupe De La Jeunesse; and Jenny Unwin, who herself rowed at Shiplake College when she was a pupil here. The team will be bolstered further by the arrival of Psychology teacher Adam Moffatt in September 2014, previously the Head of Rowing at The Oratory School.  

Dave's biography is an impressive read: "I started rowing at the age of 12 at Llandaff Rowing Club, with my father as my coach. As a school boy I gained a rowing scholarship to scull at Wycliffe College. I moved to Henley when I was 19 to pursue my ambition of becoming an international lightweight rower, where I joined Leander Club. Over my competitive rowing career I made five finals at Henley Royal Regatta, winning the Fawley Challenge Cup, Wyfold Challenge Cup and Men's Quad event. I also gained Bronze medals at the Under 23 and Senior World Championships representing Great Britain.

After retiring from competition I turned my attention to coaching, In 2007 I became Director of Rowing for Sir William Borlase's Grammar School in Marlow, where I grew the club's participation and National ranking over 3 years, most notably winning Boy's Championship Quads at National Schools in 2008. In 2009 I was awarded the British Rowing Junior Coach of the Year Award.

In 2010 I was appointed Assistant to the Master in Charge of Rowing at Abingdon School. In my time at Abingdon the results gained have been tremendous, including winning the Championship VIIIs at Schools' Head in 2011 and 2012, National Schools in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at HRR in 2011, 2012 and 2013."