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#27 - 1984

1984 was another year full of celebration as the College commemorated its Jubilee year. Peter Lapping’s Headmaster’s Notes, from The Court Magazine, sums up the joyous mood that permeated the College during this memorable year:

“Early on it was decided that the Jubilee celebrations would be selfishly Shiplake's. Consequently, the events concentrated on attracting all those who have made our history possible. The highlight of the Jubilee celebrations was 1st May, our birthday. The founder members who were able to be present were thrilled by the Thanksgiving Service, the singing of the choir and boys, the obvious sense of occasion which pervaded everything in a service which was attended by over seven hundred. After the service all enjoyed an excellent lunch, a feat of catering that even outdid the parish supper of 1980, and Mrs. Eggar graciously laid the Foundation Stone for the 'Jubilee Building' while Mrs. Goodwin 'launched' our new Empacher VIII, the 'Jubilee'.

1st May belonged to the boys, staff, governors, current parents and friends of the College. Later in the term we entertained the Old Vikings and the Headmasters of the Preparatory Schools who have sent us boys over the years. In addition the history and the tie were launched. It was a happy year; here the staff and school prefects should claim great credit. Finally, all this progress is reflected in the confidence of the Governors who, on 28th August, three days before the Jubilee Year ended, decided to go ahead with the new Burr, the biggest building project in the College's history. Surely an exciting year could not have had a more fitting epitaph.”

In mid-May, over two hundred boys and the school took part in one of the first ever amateur productions of Jesus Christ Superstar. It was the only event of the Jubilee term to be affected by rain, but all three performances went ahead to a successful conclusion in spite of the difficulties. The show was once again produced by Malcolm Woodcock who commented about it in The Court:

Despite having sketched out the staging, ordered lighting and sound equipment in November and having begun rehearsals in February, there still seemed a great deal to do when the Summer Term began at the end of April. We had about three weeks to pull the show together. At the back of one's mind all the time was the fact that we were very much in the hands of the weather. However, for the first two and a half weeks of May all seemed set for fine conditions. Rehearsals were squeezed in at every possible opportunity with impromptu lighting arranged so that we could continue late into the evening. Many people put in many hours of effort and, due to the planning incompetence of the producer, many more people spent many more hours just hanging around. Without meaning to be patronsing it said a great deal for the cast that never was there any evidence of impatience or boredom. The lighting equipment arrived on the Saturday, a gloriously sunny day, and the afternoon was spent in erecting it. By 11.30 that evening all seemed set for the final week - we had but to wait for the amplification equipment to arrive on Sunday and hope for continued good weather. However, Sunday dawned cloudy and wet - by the afternoon rain had set in for the day and the sound equipment arrived late. Immediately there were problems - the suppliers had not appreciated the distances involved and the band tent and the stage would seem to have been put in the wrong places. Sunday had been a very depressing day - nevertheless by Tuesday the position had improved and a dress rehearsal was attempted - only to be abandoned after an hour. There was nothing for it but to press ahead and hope. The first performance was marred to some extent by faulty amplification; the Thursday was a perfect evening and the cast responded with a very good performance. By Friday rain was forecast again but by early evening it seemed that we might be lucky. This was not to be - the performance began at nine, as did the rain. Despite this we went ahead with both the performers and audience alike determined to ignore the wet conditions. Obviously a performance such as this would not have got off the drawing board without a tremendous amount of help from very many people. It would be invidious to single out individuals for particular mention since it was, above all, a corporate effort. May I just add my sincere thanks to all who took part for their enthusiasm and tolerance from beginning to end.

Another cause for celebration was in rowing as the School’s 1st VIII had the most successful season to date. Henley Royal Regatta saw the 1st VIII in the Princess Elizabeth Cup, the 2nd VIII in the Special Race for Schools and two members of the 1st VIII also in the Visitors' Cup. The draw, which had often been so kind to us in previous years, disappointed us. We met The King's School, Chester in the first round. Only two weeks before they had come within two feet of becoming the National Schools' Champions behind St. Edward's. After a very close race, the 1st VIII were beaten by one length in a time just one second outside the record. However, two members of the squad – J.B.L Blunt and H.E.D Trotter when on to win the Visitors' Cup as part of a Coxless four. The other members of their crew were A. Spracklen representing King James' College and L.Robinson on behalf of Sir William Borlase.

Also in 1984:

- The pupils vs staff Athletics competition was introduced.

- The College community were saddened to hear of the death of former staff member and Burr Housemaster Mike Gilliat.

- The Jubilee Building was opened to be used for the School Shop, JCR, offices and staff residences. 

- The First edition of Hans Wells-Furby’s Wish and Fulfilment was released and available to purchase at £6 per copy from both the College office and the Bell Bookshop in Henley.

- The Carol Service was considered by many to be one of the most moving and memorable to date.

- The School responded to the Ethiopian Famine by abandoning their Christmas break-up suppers and the money sent to Ethiopia by way of Oxfam and the Save the Children Fund. £788 was raised in this way. Burr House went even further and raised £56.64 by giving up their mid-morning buns for a week. All this gave the school the dubious privilege of a notice in the Daily Telegraph and a mention on the radio.

- In October, the Governors launched an appeal for the financing of the new Burr House.