Always a special moment in the Downe House calendar, this year’s Founder’s Weekend was of particular importance as a time to come together and celebrate all that has been achieved in this extraordinary year, as well as showcasing Sport, Drama, Dance, Music and the Creative Arts. Most of the events were livestreamed to share with parents and alumnae around the world and an art gallery was created on the Downe House website to share the most outstanding art, product design, photography and textiles creations from all the year groups with parents. The weekend started with an uplifting and joyful Founder’s Service of music and prayer live streamed from the campus with an address by the Rev’d Liz Jackson, the new Associate Archdeacon of Berkshire in the Oxford diocese on this term’s Chapel theme of ‘Love and Service’.
The next event was Sports Day with a morning of track and field events in which every girl in the School had the opportunity to take part and compete for their House. House spirit was strong (and loud!) and every event was robustly contested with the overall winner being Holcombe House.
At lunchtime, the incredible Samba Band entertained everyone followed by the premiere screening of ‘Lets go to the Movies – the Movie’ featuring a cast of girls from across the School alongside stars from the West End and DH Alumna, Geraldine James. Written and directed by Musical Theatre Director in Residence, Mr Ben Sell, the production aimed to raise funds for the charity, Acting for Others. The Music Department excelled with a spectacular variety of performances during the afternoon from ensembles, soloists, choirs and the Chapel organ players, again all streamed live online.
The Downe House Dance Academies and Company presented an exciting adaptation of Mulan – the dancers had been rehearsing since the Michaelmas term, mostly in their bubbles and many of the rehearsals in the Lent term were virtual ones. On the day, the energy, the accomplished technique and professionalism of our dancers meant that Mulan was another highlight of the day.
Last on the schedule was the School Production of Blue Stockings – the Lower Fifth cast did a wonderful job on stage telling the story of the women at Girton College, Cambridge who fought so hard to ensure that education for girls and women became a right.
Throughout the weekend, there was the opportunity to view the fabulous Creative Arts Exhibition in the Murray Centre displaying girls’ work in Art, Textiles, DT, Photography and Ceramics. Suffice it to say that the individuality, creativity and quality of the works meant it was impossible to go round the exhibition quickly!
On Sunday morning, to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Downe House’s first National Schools’ Lacrosse Championships title win, Assistant Director of Sport, Miss Williams organised an Alumnae vs Downe House lacrosse match – a brilliant game in which the DH Alumnae stole the victory by one goal after a closely fought match! Sunday afternoon brought a much awaited Founder’s Tea for the girls thanks to the DH Catering Department and more outstanding music from Buskers’ Corner and the Jazz band which entertained everyone later during the BBQ which was the perfect end to an absolutely brilliant celebration of the year at Downe House.
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