Senior School newsletter: February 2020
The monthly digital newsletter from Rydal Penrhos senior school.
Rydal Penrhos newsletter
Foreword from the Head
"What an incredible way to start the spring term here at Rydal Penrhos."
We were thrilled to receive Oxbridge offers for two of our Sixth Form pupils and huge congratulations to Cassie and Ed on gaining conditional offers.
This is a testament to their exceptional dedication to their studies and the incredible support each pupil has received from our wonderful staff team.
Our CCF group received their Berets at a special presentation in recognition of their hard work, and it was wonderful to see so many parents and family members attending the event to lend their support.
We also launched a new Sixth Form academic mentoring scheme that is going to be hugely beneficial during their A Level modules and in the lead-up to important University applications.
The school were honoured to play a small part in the Holocaust Memorial Day service in Llandudno once again, with our Sixth Formers representing Rydal Penrhos in a very positive fashion within the community.
Our charity work in Uganda made a large donation towards the construction of another primary school site thanks to the incredible generosity of the Rydal Penrhos community during various fundraising events throughout the academic year. Thank you!
With a multitude of sporting achievements, drama and music success and a fantastic Vikings' Rugby Reunion Dinner to honour the careers of Mike Leach and Phil Mather, January was a month that will live long in the memory.
Mrs S A Harding
Head of Senior School
Homerton College Cambridge offer
Cassie Parry has received a conditional place to read English at Homerton College Cambridge pending the necessary A Level results this summer.
The pupil, who arrived at Rydal Penrhos at the start of her Sixth Form journey, is currently studying English, Drama and Psychology at A Level and has played a leading role in various school concerts thanks to her strong vocal ability.
Cassie also showcased her performing arts skills as part of the Dramatic Society production of Les Miserables last year.
Twenty per cent of Upper Sixth Formers at the school applied for Oxbridge places this year, with half reaching the interview stage, which represents a significant achievement.
Homerton received its Royal charter in 2010 affirming its status as a full College of Cambridge University. The College celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2018.
University of Oxford offer
Edward Patrick received a conditional offer to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Oxford after successfully coming through a strenuous application process.
This represents a significant achievement for Edward, who has spent the entire secondary school journey at Rydal Penrhos after enrolling in 2013 as a Year 7 pupil. He is currently studying English, Mathematics and Physics and has benefitted considerably from the school’s strong academic ethos that has brought some remarkable A Level and GCSE results in recent years.
Edward was also part of last year’s Erasmus Project that saw Rydal Penrhos collaborate with other schools from across Europe on a project that produced online learning tools relating to the Cold War.
His passion for politics brought a notable achievement during Rydal Penrhos’ mock election, where Edward emerged victorious as Conservative Party leader.
Academic Mentoring initiative
A new academic mentoring programme has been launched for Sixth Form pupils.
Each pupil in Years 12 and 13 will have a teacher assigned to them, which is not their form tutor to monitor academic progress and offer assistance as and when required.
Sixth Formers will be placed with a teacher that specialise in their subjects of choice, with Mrs Harding and Mr Waszek also lending their support to the initiative.
There will be the opportunity to discuss on a wide range of different options such as any problems they may be experiencing within a particular subject and the best way to overcome any concerns they have to maximise performance.
This will also involve weekly checks on important areas including notes and prep ahead of any upcoming deadlines, in addition to receiving expert advice on university or apprenticeship applications and the next stage of the process.
Help with structuring work and essays will also be a prominent topic of discussion, and pupils will get to express their thoughts on how their Sixth Form experience is going.
Pupils take to the water!
There was plenty of excitement at Rydal Penrhos as its Swimming Pool opened for use.
The extensive refurbishment has transformed the facility and pupils took to the water for the first time during a series of exciting enrichment options throughout the second week of the spring term.
This included a Kayaking session with Rydal Penrhos’ dedicated sailing and water sports staff, and the school’s senior swim squad honed their skills with coach Andy Edgley and Mrs Head.
Prep School pupils of all abilities also got the opportunity to improve areas such as technique, breathing and try different strokes during their time at the site.
The school’s estates team, led by Richard Smith, put in a significant amount of work during the summer months and the autumn term on the £150,000 renovations, and the filling stage involved half an inch of water per hour before bringing it to temperature.
New chemical pumps were installed before treating the water to ensure it was compliant with health and safety standards and staff receiving special training ahead of the opening.
When the pool is up and running satisfactorily for the pupils, both before after and during the school day, other uses will then be considered.
Rugby reunion held
A large number of former rugby stars returned to Rydal Penrhos for a special event in celebration of two legendary school figures.
The Vikings Rugby Reunion Dinner took place on Saturday, January 25, which was held to honour the careers of Mike Leach and Phil Mather and saw 145 people pack the Ferguson Centre to mark the occasion.
Vikings’ chair Marcus Copeland got proceedings underway with a welcome address, before Executive Principal John Waszek spoke about the school and the importance of the evening.
Andrew Fenby and Nathan Jones then took over and a number of items were sold in a special auction, including a painting of special guest Jonathan Davies, a current Welsh rugby international, which was created by rising Colwyn Bay artist Dave Sharp.
Mr Leach and Mr Mather spoke about their favourite Rydal Penrhos memories, and a number of ex-pupils who could not attend also contributed with video messages.
Mr Copeland, said: “When Andrew and I sat down in June and discussed organising a Vikings tribute dinner for Mike and Phil, not in my wildest dreams did I think that seven months later we would be hosting such an amazing event.
“It was probably the biggest gathering of alumni at the school since the Centenary Dinner in 1985, which goes to show the sheer volume of love and respect that staff and ex-pupils share for Mike and Phil.”
Davies, who has amassed 81 caps for his country to date, held a question and answer session with those in attendance.
Each former pupil gave a personal message on two frames that will be given to Mr Leach and Mr Mather, and plans are currently being formed with a view to holding a similar event over Founders’ Weekend in September.
Mr Fenby, added: “What an event it turned out to be.
“I thought we were being ambitious targeting an audience of 120 so to get 145, whilst hearing the efforts people had made to make the dinner, shows the esteem with which Mike and Phil are held by so many.
“For me, the most important thing achieved on the night was giving two of our own the send-off they deserve.
“The feedback has been outstanding with several already asking when the next event is, watch this space.”
Donation made to Primary School project
The school has donated £1,052 towards plans to construct a second school located within the Batwa region of Uganda, which was made thanks to a series of charity events at Rydal Penrhos’ prep and senior sites during the academic year.
Each charity mission Rydal Penrhos has taken to the country, staff and pupils visit the Batwa region at Rwamahano through links with the Friends of African International Christian Ministry (FAICM).
They have seen first-hand how the community has struggled to adapt to living on top of mountainsides with very little in the way of forest cover.
The school built at Rwamahano, which was finished by pupils from Rydal Penrhos in July 2017, was to replace the original, wood build building that had been swept away during rainstorms.
FAICM are now working at another site in Murubindi, with the initial plans of two classrooms, head teacher’s office and a latrine receiving approval.
Building work on the primary school is now underway, with the second phase consisting of another two classrooms and a staff room within £7,000 of its target thanks to the donation from Rydal Penrhos.
Paul Sanders, Year 9-10 Head of School and Uganda project leader, said: “It is hoped that when we visit again in July 2021, we will see first-hand how we have contributed and more than likely put to work on the build itself.
“The impact our links in Uganda are having, supported by the generosity of parents and pupils of the Rydal Penrhos community, across a range of good causes is something to be proud of and only go to cement our friendships with our partners further.”
The Batwa people are the indigenous pygmy population of central Africa.
For millennia, they have lived in the forests finding all they need to survive be it for shelter, food or medicine.
Conservation efforts to protect mountain gorillas saw the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda created in the south of the country and Uganda’s 6,700-strong Batwa community were evicted from the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where they had lived for centuries.
According to Ugandan law, as a nomadic people who had never settled in one location, the Batwa had no claim to the land, therefore, the Ugandan government had no legal obligation to compensate them.
Group receive Berets at ceremony
Rydal Penrhos’ Combined Cadet Force received another significant milestone at a special event.
The aspiring group were formally given their Berets at a ceremony on Thursday, January 23, which saw staff and family members also come along to witness the occasion.
Malcolm Battenbough, Regimental Sergeant Major of the Cadet Training Team, gave out the Berets and the parade was orchestrated by Year 11 pupil Josh Peevor.
CCF leaders Alun Brown and Phil Hilton were also present during the ceremony, and Senior School head Sally-Ann Harding also lent her support to the event.
The presentation is a culmination of each pupil’s exceptionally hard work since the start of the academic year, which has seen the fledgling programme go from strength to strength and become another integral part of Rydal Penrhos’ enrichment opportunities.
Following the ceremony, those in attendance enjoyed refreshments at the school’s CCF base, posed for pictures and spoke with dignitaries.
Sixth Former attend service
Twenty-one Sixth Form pupils once again attended the Holocaust Memorial Day service at the Emmanuel Christian Centre in Llandudno on Sunday, January 26, just one day prior to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Head Boy Ioan Peake-Jones and Cerys Howells presented readings during the service, and those in attendance also got the opportunity to hear from Mala Tribich MBE, a Holocaust survivor of Bergen-Belsen’s concentration camp.
Mrs Hind, said: “She told of her courageous but terrifying experience of this atrocity and how she was one of the fortunate ones to survive, amidst the conditions during that time.
“We calculated that she must be 89 as she was 14 when the camp was liberated in 1945. An extraordinary lady.
“It was wonderful to have such representation from the Rydal Penrhos student body and thanks goes to Ioan and Millie (Head Boy and Head Girl) for organising this.”
Holocaust Memorial Day is a national commemoration day in the United Kingdom dedicated to the remembrance of those who suffered in The Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.
It was first held in January 2001 and has been on the same date every year since.
Grade 8 Clarinet for Niamh
Niamh Cook recently sat her Grade 8 clarinet examination after months of hard work, which was administered by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.
The teenager produced an incredible performance in front of adjudicators to secure a Distinction as a result of her outstanding effort, scoring an exceptional 132 out of a possible 150 marks.
This is the second time that Niamh has attained Grade 8 distinction relating to a particular instrument, with the pupil also boasting a piano certificate at the same level of difficulty.
The Sixth Former, who is also an immensely gifted Artist, will now start on her ABRSM clarinet diploma in the hope of securing further achievements in a musical environment.
She is also studying for her ABRSM piano diploma in addition to her A Level commitments, working alongside Rydal Penrhos’ dedicated staff team to reach her goals.
Mr Williams, said: “This is an absolutely extraordinary achievement from one of the brightest young musicians I have had the pleasure of working with.
“Niamh’s natural ability is matched by her tremendous work ethic and desire to get the very most out of her remarkable gift, and for her to be coupling this with her A Level studies is a real testament of her tireless dedication.”
Gabriel secures coveted role
Gabriel Speakman recently auditioned for the Chester Passion Play, which in now in its third year and takes place on Good Friday to kick-off the Easter weekend festivities in the city.
The pupil was thrilled to learn that he secured a role in the production, beating out a wealth of other hopefuls to attain a character part as a ‘youth’.
This represents a significant achievement for Gabriel, who is sure to benefit enormously from the experience.
He was part of the sensational Rydal Penrhos Dramatic Society production of Les Misérables last year and took the stage at Theatr Clwyd in Mold as part of the Suitcase Theatre production of 'A Wounded Peace' cast.
The Drama and Sports scholar has also achieved a considerable amount in academic subjects and in areas such as rugby, swimming and cross-country.
The collaborative project between Chester Mystery Plays, Theatre in the Quarter and Churches Together sees the groups produce a dramatised ‘Way of the Cross’ in the streets of Chester City Centre.
The performance starts at the Eastgate Street clock with Jesus' entry to Jerusalem and the Last Supper at the Cross, processing towards Town Hall Square for Gethsemane and the Trial, finishing at the West door of the Cathedral with the Crucifixion.
Tribute to much-loved teacher
Terry Hemuss (1937-2019) – a reflection by Lucy Davies (OR)
The Rydal Penrhos school community was saddened to hear just after Christmas that Terry Hemuss had died suddenly.
Terry was a much loved music teacher at Rydal School from 1971 to 1994.
I am sure that many former pupils will remember his quiet encouragement of all things musical and how he played such a pivotal role in some of our strongest school memories; I remember singing a solo in a school production of ‘Oh, What a Lovely War’.
The song was actually the tongue twister, ‘Sister Suzie’s sewing shirts for soldiers’ and a group of girls attempted time and time again to remember our lines, sing them correctly, perform dance moves and keep in time.
It was Mr Hemuss who played the piano over and over again, never once complaining…he really was the most brilliant accompanist.
Terry and his wife, Gwynne, moved to the Colwyn Bay area in 1971 when Terry took up his position at Rydal School, working with Percy Heywood, the Head of Music and Walter Jones, the organist. Terry was brought in to boost the instrumental side of music as the choral side was already very strong (well we are in Wales!).
This was a fantastic move by the school as not only was Terry an accomplished pianist and organist, he was also a competent clarinet and trumpet player. He founded an orchestra as well as smaller groups and encouraged every pupil to take up an instrument.
His wild collection of colourful socks always ensured that he could not be pigeon-holed by the boys as being a bit old-fashioned!
As the Prep School began to take on more girls, Gwynne joined Terry in working at Rydal in 1978.
They had three children, two of whom became pupils at the school. Terry was a talented arranger of music and would write out parts for whatever instruments he had available for every concert. In my Upper Sixth I remember a fabulous concert that Robert Smith, the Head of Music, collaborated on with Terry and also choir members from the community whom Terry worked with.
We did an ambitious performance of ‘Carmina Burana’ by Carl Orff. I remember Mr. Smith telling us that we would be singing a collection of 12th century poems…in Latin! We were not impressed.
However Mr Hemuss hinted that many of the poems were too ‘racy’ to translate! We never found out if this was true but we sang with much gusto!
The singing at the annual carol services was also enhanced by the band of brass and wind instruments accompanying the singing with amazing descants all arranged by Terry.
Terry remained very active in the local music scene after retiring to Llandudno in 1994. He worked with the Llandudno Show Players and then became musical director for nine years for the highly acclaimed show-group, ‘A Touch of Class’.
This group raised thousands of pounds for local charities and Terry was very much the organiser. He also played a major role as organist at St. Paul’s Church, Craig y Don and even until late last year Terry continued playing the piano in local homes for the elderly.
Terry’s love of music was infectious, he was a very kind man who gave much to generations of music pupils as well as his local community and he will be sorely missed.
Gwynne and the family would be pleased to invite any friends or former pupils to Terry’s funeral which will be held on Monday, January 20 at 2pm at St. Paul’s Church, Craig y Don where he played the organ for nearly 20 years.
Mrs L Davies
Head of Prep
Wealth of Academy achievements
Richard Wolfendale has been named Junior Captain at North Wales Golf Club for the 2020-21 campaign.
The teenager has developed his skills considerably in recent months thanks to his sterling commitment both during sessions with Rydal Penrhos’ Golf Academy and during his time on course at the picturesque Llandudno facility.
He is currently skipper of the club’s junior winter league team, which features fixtures against Old Colwyn and Penmaenmawr and has seen the squad secured some outstanding results.
Richard has also been aiding younger members at the club on their game at a beginners’ training session every Saturday with coach Robin Hughes.
This also counts towards the teenager’s volunteering section of his Duke of Edinburgh gold award, and he will be part of the North Wales Golf Club juniors’ tour to Blackpool during the half term break.
The Sixth Former also secured a significant milestone on the course last year with his first ever hole in one on the 17th.
Mrs Head, said: "This is a great honour for Richard and one that he is enormously deserving of.
"He has worked very hard on improving his golf in recent months with tremendous results, and Richard has become a hugely influential figure within the junior section at North Wales Golf Club, something that is sure to continue in his role as captain."
Charley Simpson was rewarded for an exceptional series of competition successes with selection to the Wales Golf Aspire Performance Squad, which is available for U18 players with a handicap of four or below and aims to prepare the best young players in the country for full international honours in the near future.
The sports scholar and Golf Academy member has attended two weekend coaching programmes so far with the select group, which also included the opportunity for Charley to test his skills on the iconic 2010 course at the Celtic Manor.
It has been a hugely impressive few months for the teenager, who secured the U14 Welsh Open Championship after a sensational display that saw him run out a convincing winner at the event.
He was also presented with the Denbighshire Golf Union’s Junior Achievement Award thanks to his sterling efforts on course.
Charley also played a leading role in Rydal Penrhos’ incredible recent success in the Independent Schools’ Golf Association’s Match Play Championship, which resulted in qualification to the national finals.
They are on course to achieve the same feat this time around due to their outstanding display to book their place in the northern area final for a second consecutive year with a notable triumph over Bolton Grammar School.
Rydal Penrhos has been invited as the top independent golfing school in the country to play in the ISGA Home Internationals 2020 competition, which represents a significant honour for the thriving programme.
This year’s event will be hosted by Merchiston School in Scotland and take place on Sunday, March 15 and Monday 16 on the number two and three courses at Gullane Golf Club.
The trio of Adrian Lewis, Charley Simpson and Reuben Bather will travel north of the border to compete at the Independent Schools’ Golf Association showcase, where they will aim to secure success for the Welsh side.
They reached the ISGA National Match Play final last season after emerging victorious from the northern section, and they are one win away from securing the same milestone this term.
Reuben is a current Welsh U18 international and has wealth of individual competition triumphs to his name, with Charley becoming part of the Golf Wales Inspire squad after a memorable season that saw him clinch the U14 national title.
Rounding off the team is Adrian, who has seen his handicap plummet since joining the Golf Academy thanks to his outstanding development and ability to perform consistently on the big stage.
Podium for Freddie at Catteral Shield
Freddie Barrington-Chance was part of the squad that travelled to Giggleswick School to compete at the high-profile Catteral Shield, which featured a wealth of other competitors from across Cheshire and the north of England.
The sports scholar managed to navigate the difficult course superbly, with the adverse weather conditions prior to the race making things more problematic for each competitor.
This enabled Freddie to finish third in the U13 boys’ category, which represents a significant achievement for a pupil that has displayed an enormous amount of potential in a sporting environment.
His outstanding overall placing was the standout performance from another strong showing at the event from a Rydal Penrhos perspective, which saw a number of Prep School pupils also attain high finishes as a result of their sterling effort.
Mr McLeod, who led the group at the competition, said: “Freddie’s grit, determination and will to succeed came to the fore once again to notch another impressive achievement to add to his growing collection.
“He is so enthusiastic and seems to always rise to the occasion across a variety of different sports, and this is going to stand him in enormously good stead for future success in a competitive environment.”
Triple gold for Jonathan
Jonathan Osbourne was one of the standout performers at the North Wales Indoor Athletics Championships, which took place in Deeside.
The academic and sports scholar blazed his way to gold in the U15 boys’ 60 metre race, notching a superb time of 8.55 seconds.
This was the 14th best Welsh time recorded during the current campaign, and 88th in the United Kingdom regarding his particular age bracket.
There was further cause for celebration from the teenager’s perspective, with Jonathan also coming away with first place in the high jump competition after equalling his personal best to achieve the crown.
He rounded off an incredible event by trying the triple jump for the first time in a competitive environment, which Jonathan managed exceptionally well to attain his third gold of the championships.
This is the latest in a series of outstanding achievements from the pupil, who continues to balance his academic studies and sporting progression incredibly well to bring significant results.
Mrs Head, said: “Jonathan’s attitude is absolutely first class and it is fantastic to see his ongoing commitment paying off with a truly outstanding performance.
“To secure three first-place finishes in the face of some stern competition is a clear indication of his incredible potential and the way he is able to compete well consistently under pressure.”
Fin stars for Colwyn Bay youth
Fin Hare was part of the Colwyn Bay Rugby Club youth squad that took on Llangefni in a North Wales Championship encounter.
The Sixth Former was one of the standout performers during a notable home performance from the Bay, playing a leading role in their emphatic 66-14 success.
The powerful back produced a number of outstanding runs throughout the one-sided affair, which is the latest in a series of exceptional results from the improving group so far this season.
Fin has achieved a considerable amount from a sporting perspective and has been at Rydal Penrhos throughout his education after enrolling as a Reception class pupil in 2005.
He has emerged as a significantly influential of the school’s senior squad in both union and 7s disciplines, and his outstanding form also earned regional representative honours as part of the RGC U16 side last season.
Mrs Head, said: “This was an outstanding result for Colwyn Bay and it was fantastic to see Fin playing such a big part.
“He possesses a tremendous skill-set and is always working hard on improving his craft, something Fin is balancing with his A Level studies remarkably well.”
Liam & Freddie help Eirias Club to success
Liam Farrell and Freddie MacLaverty were part of the Eirias Hockey Club U15 side that took on Northop for the North Wales Championship on Sunday, January 19.
The duo defied their age to contribute significantly throughout a hotly contested affair, which saw Eirias emerge victorious to be crowned regional champions.
This represents a significant accomplishment for the duo, who have developed their skills considerably in recent months both at the club and with Rydal Penrhos’ dedicated coaching team.
They will now begin preparations ahead of a busy few weeks of competitive action for club and school, which will see them look to secure national honours.
Both Liam and Freddie are also extremely successful on the water, having earned Welsh representative honours in Sailing.
Mrs Harding, said: “This is absolutely fabulous news and we would like to offer our congratulations to Liam, Freddie and the Eirias Hockey Club on their North Wales Championship victory.
“This will be a great confidence boost for them both ahead of what is sure to be a very exciting few weeks of hockey here at Rydal Penrhos that will hopefully bring some more national achievements.”