In the summer of 2004, following 16 years at the helm, Nick Bevan retired. At the end of term speech day, chairman of the governors, Nigel Gilson, praised Mr Bevan for his work. He said: "I don't think anyone fully understands his impact on a huge network of people that includes over 1,600 pupils and 3,000 parents. He has attended hundreds of school plays, concerts and rugby matches. It will be impossible for him to retire quietly and I would advise you to watch out for him as a magistrate."
The Headmaster's closing speech looked to the future of the school, celebrating the attitudes of the pupils and staff. "People ask me what I shall miss and it will, of course, be the people who make up our community," he said. "Pupils who smile disarmingly and ask how you are, the guts and determination of so many crews and teams when up against it, our candlelit communions and many other memorable occasions in chapel. I have every confidence that my successor will take Shiplake College to even greater things."
The Old Viking Society published this farewell tribute in their Newsletter:
Nick Bevan's greatest asset has been his enthusiasm. He is a passionate advocate of boarding and Shiplake College. He worked tirelessly from early morning administration, through chapel and appointments with prospective parents, watching sport and coaching rowing; finally onto the evening meetings with prefects and teachers. A headmaster has many balls to juggle and requires immense stamina. Nick has been blessed with good health and has been at his desk throughout the holidays, tidying up the loose ends from the previous term, eagerly discussing plans for the coming months. One of Nick's priceless abilities has been to lift his head from today's pressing challenges; to stop, think and create a vision of the future. Headmasters have to be adaptable. After years in the classroom, on the river and in his boarding house at Shrewsbury, Nick rapidly learnt a whole set of management and marketing skills. His year as Chairman of the Society for Headmasters of Independent Schools certainly raised Shiplake's profile. It has been an era of immense change. Wooden shacks have been replaced by state-of-the-art buildings. Girls have joined boys in the Sixth Form. E-mails have replaced memos. Business Studies, Media Studies, Sports Studies and Theatre Studies have all arrived on the curriculum. Shiplake has become a member of the prestigious Headmasters' Conference and the school has gained a national reputation as one of the very best small schools in the country. Nick Bevan has certainly made a massive contribution to the history of Shiplake College. We wish Nick and Annabel a well-deserved and happy retirement.
Gregg Davies took over the reins from September and OVS President Hans Wells-Furby made an interesting observation when introducing him in the OVS Newsletter:
“If OVs ever thought there was a generation gap between them and those running Shiplake College, this no longer applies. In welcoming, on your behalf, our new Headmaster, let me remind you that he grew up and has worked in the same world as you all.”
On his first impressions of Shiplake, Gregg Davies said:
Who remembers the 2004 production of Animal Farm, which took place off site in a barn! Reported here in the Henley Standard:
Also in 2004:
- Pupil Holly Baird, organised a fashion show at the School, which raised £550 for Cancer Research.
- An OVS family day took place in June with a Summer Fayre on the New Field, Cricket, Tennis and a BBQ.