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350 Years of Outstanding Boarding School Education

June 26th, 2017

The 350th anniversary year formally began over the weekend of the 24th and 25th of June.

Our guest speaker at prize giving this year was a direct descendent of Thomas Foley, the School’s Founder. Lt Gen Sir John Foley KCB OBE MC DL has had a distinguished career in the military, serving as Director SAS, Chief of Defence Intelligence and Commander of UK Land Forces Hong Kong.  Like his illustrious forebear, Sir John also served as High Sheriff of Worcestershire.

Malcolm Wilcox, Chairman, began the event by welcoming Sir John and outlining both the traditions of Old Swinford Hospital and also its constant development and evolution.  Headmaster Paul Kilbride then spoke about the resilience which has sustained this community for three and a half centuries, locating its origins in the people who work and live here, our shared values and reminding us of some timely pointers in St Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 12.

Sir John spoke to the audience about the breadth and quality of Thomas Foley’s vision.  In economic matters Thomas Foley was ahead of his time, developing an integrated network of forges and foundries across the country.  In political matters, Thomas Foley was very much a moderate, sceptical of the radicalism of both sides during and after the Civil War.  But it was really in matters to do with education that his vision had its greatest impact.  Old Swinford Hospital was a new kind of school, built to meet the needs of the age and financed entirely out of Thomas Foley’s own pocket.  His legacy endures not only in the buildings but in the countless numbers of pupils to have benefitted from its distinctive type of education.

The afternoon was perhaps a little less formal.  Our ‘Party in the Park’ was a well-attended picnic concert, equally well supported by our Parents’ Association and also Sadlers Beer, which provided the popular OSH350 bitter.  Musical items were performed with much panache by pupils and teachers, whilst the ‘Sponge a Teacher’ stocks had some noticeably long queues.

Mr Kilbride, commented: ‘The official beginning of our 350th year has been wonderfully received by parents and pupils, colleagues, governors and guests.  Above all else what we see here is the warmth and the strength of our community in celebrating such a momentous event.’

On Sunday grandparents and friends of the School were invited to take a tour of the campus before a barbecue and piano concert. Mrs S Boulter, who is a parent of a pupil at the School, commented ‘My mother lives in France and this is the first opportunity that she has had to see the School that my son fondly talks about.  She was firstly struck by how polite all of the boys are and by the fabulous boarding environment that they are so lucky to live in.  She could clearly see the traditions and values that the School adheres to.’

Pictured from left to right (main image):  Malcolm Wilcox – Chairman of the Governing Body, Margot James – MP for Stourbridge, Paul Kilbride – Headmaster and Lt Gen Sir John Foley KCB OBE MC DL.