The appeal aims to further enhance the school’s science and performing arts facilities, and increase the number of bursaries offered to future generations.
Lyricist and author Sir Tim Rice, BAFTA-winning film director Mike Newell, and founder of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University and former chairman of the English National Opera Sir Martin Smith attended the event, held at the Science Museum. They were joined by the prominent British archeologist Colin Renfrew (Baron Renfrew of Kaimsthorn) and guest of honour Professor Stephen Hawking, the world famous physicist and author of ‘A Brief History of Time’, to support the school in its ambition to encourage more youngsters to embrace science and the arts.
Professor Hawking confessed that his father had wanted the young prodigy to move from St Albans to Westminster, since it would offer him greater social advancement. “Lack of social graces has not been a hindrance,” he joked. He smiled as he said that he had found physics “easy” because it was “obvious”, and that he had enjoyed chemistry at St Albans “because there were always unexpected explosions!”
The evening also provided an opportunity for headmaster Andrew Grant to reflect on major developments during his 21 years at the school and to highlight the new bursary programme: “I want as many boys and girls to be able to benefit from the outstanding education that our school has to offer, irrespective of their financial position, as they did before the abolition of the direct grant,” he said.
Mr Grant also introduced the incoming headmaster Jonathan Gillespie, who said that his mantra was: “Under new leadership; business as usual.”