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#52 - 2009

2009 saw yet another year of celebration as the College marked its golden anniversary and 50 glorious years!

One of the highlights was the production of the Shiplake Stories book; a collection of anecdotes, pictures and stories from the last five decades of College life. It is a very interesting read and can be found in our digital archive.

On the College’s actual anniversary on 1 May, pupils, parents and Old Vikings attended a 50th anniversary Thanksgiving Service at St Mary’s Church in Henley. The Order of Service is available to view in our online archive. The very first Shiplake pupil, Alasdair Barron was in attendance and had this to say about his time here, published in The Court:

"I arrived at Shiplake in the autumn 1958, there was no school then, and nothing much in the building either, just empty spaces, including a sky blue painted basement room that used to house emergency BBC wartime transmitters. My room was at the top of the main stairs of what is now Skipwith House. I slept on an old hospital bed, and waited for the school to start. Rather like Sleeping Beauty, the house was about to awaken to its new role. The setting was extremely beautiful and during winter floods, a sunlit silver sheet stretched as far as the eye could see, with the island curiously floating. A magical scene. From the start adventure was there in large measure, encouraged of course by the rambling house, stable block, gardens, and quarry, and beyond that an endless expanse of possibility, stretching on past the island, on and on, to the ends of the earth."

Alasdair Barron photographed with current pupils on 1 May 2009  

The special anniversary was also marked with a lavish Gold Ball on the front field marquee and the Old Viking Society held a lunch and family day.

The girls' house was opened in September 2009, named after and opened by departing Chairman of Governors, Nigel Gilson.

Nigel Gilson officially opens Gilson House

It was an historic moment when the first group of eleven-year-old day boys arrived at the College on Thursday 10 September. The plan had been to admit one class of Year 7 pupils but after selection and testing there were 18 successful candidates so the decision was taken to expand to a two form entry. It was a busy start for the boys with lessons, swimming test and capsize test all packed into their first couple of days. Nor was it long before the boys had notched up their first sporting victory with a 4-2 football victory over Leighton Park. The decision to admit eleven year old day boys had clearly been a great success.

We love this article and photograph from The Court:

"An avalanche of after-shave and a garden of red roses arrived at Queen Anne's Girls' School as 20 immaculately groomed Year 12 ballroom dancers from Shiplake took to the dance-floor. The Ball was the culmination of weekly dance lessons that had begun in September. Dancers waited for a tap on the shoulder from the judges, to signify progress to the next round, as they competed in waltz, jive and cha-cha. Simon Mullins took the honours in the waltz and a number of Shiplake dancers made it to the head-to-head dance-offs.

Once again, Julie Knight, Welsh House Matron, had undertaken all of the organisation for the lessons and the final triumphant visit to Queen Anne's School. She deserved an elegant photo-shoot with the boys, in the Old Viking Room, prior to their departure. Chris Alcock, Orchard Housemaster, had run a bow-tie tying masterclass earlier in the evening to ensure that all of the dancers were looking their best."

Also in 2009:

- The College’s senior Hockey squad went on a tour in Malaysia.

- For the first time, Shiplake produced a 1st XI girls' hockey team.

- There was a record number of Year 10 CCF recruits.

- The netball club had another successful season winning seven out of ten matches.