Prizegiving marks two special endings for Midhurst school

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There were two lasts when Midhurst Rother College held its annual Gilbert Hannam celebration day.

The event recognises the school’s links with the town’s rich educational past as well as celebrating educational achievement and is named after a former soldier in the English Civil War who then established a school in Midhurst.

The day began with the last Gilbert Hannam church service which Father Marcus Ronchetti will lead before heading off to a parish in Spain.

College principal Dr Joe Vitagliano said: “All students and staff at Midhurst Rother College would like to thank Father Marcus for the unfailing help, assistance and guidance he has afforded us all during more than four years of association throughout his tenure not only as the Rev of St Mary Magdalene and St Denys, but also as college governor. We wish him and his family every success in their exciting new adventure.”

There was also an address by guest the Rev Timothy Wright of St Mary’s Church, Petworth. He was presented with the traditional gift of gloves by head girl Lauren Gilson and head boy Liam Fox, a custom which has been carried out following a request in the will of Gilbert Hannam who died on St Patrick’s Day 1677. A pair of gloves was also presented to Fr Marcus as a farewell gift.

The head girl and boy also gave readings and the service included music from the college’s Jazz Ensemble while student Chloe Tucker performed a song accompanied by Joe Furness. Bells rang out thanks to members of the Midhurst and Easebourne bell ringers, which also included sixth form student Harry Carter.

The evening prizegiving in the Jon Barrott Sports Hall was the last such ceremony to be held on the premises of the Midhurst Grammar School site. Once work is completed on the new campus future prizegiving will take place in a new theatre -style hall.

The evening was introduced by chairman of the governing body David Anderson, with addresses by Year 11 students Louise Simac and George Stringer, the head boy and girl and Mr Vitagliano.

Students also heard an inspirational talk by guest speaker Martina Gruppo, founder and company director of Hada del Cafe. Music was provided by the Jazz Ensemble.

Jonathan Kershaw presented a prize new to the ceremony for music, in memory of his late parents, Midhurst and Petworth Rotarians, Tessa and Michael to student, Catriona Gibbon. Governor Sarah Sprinks - representing the evening’s sponsors, the Gilbert Hannam Education Foundation announced the winner of the Essay Prize, Bethan Jerratt.

After the ceremony Dr Vitagliano said: “The 2012 Gilbert Hannam Day celebrations were the best ones yet. The evening event provided a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the achievements and contributions of many students in Years 11 to 13. We now look forward to the 2013 event, which will be in our new building.”