John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Speech Day

1965, the year that changed my life
My first prayer meeting

Wednesday 22nd December 1965
[Speech Day programme]

 Every year Fleetwood Grammar School held its Speech Day, which, as well as providing a platform for the guest of honour, was a time of rewarding pupils who had distinguished themselves in examinations, or in artistic or sporting activity.
 So, on the afternoon of Wednesday 22nd December 1965, we all went forth, on foot, out of the school gate, and walked, in columns, two-abreast, along the streets to the Marine Hall, in time to be marshalled and seated for the 2pm start.

The Marine Hall, Fleetwood
 The event provided us at first with a fleeting excitement, a joy of missing lessons, till all too soon tedium set in.
 After standing for God Save The Queen we sang the School Hymn:
…Dear Lord, we pray,
Thy Spirit may
enrich and bless our School alway.
I always thought “alway” sounded quaint.
 Then bit by bit I started to get bored, very bored, INTOLERABLY BORED.
 There was the Prayer, and there was the Chairman’s Welcome, and the Senior Choir, and the Head Master’s Report on the Year 1964–1965 including his usual though useless appeal for the school to be re-housed out of its inadequate wooden accommodation which was after all only intended to last twenty years, and the interminable Address by the guest of honour Professor P. A. Reynolds, M.A., and the Presentation of Prizes and Certificates where we had to watch people in whom we (or I, anyway) had no interest walk up, one after the other, endlessly, to receive their book, or certificate, or trophy, from the hand of the honoured guest.—
 (Actually, part of that held some interest for me, because I gained a Merit Prize for my eight O-level passes. It was a little one-volume Bible Commentary by William Neil—not very satisfying to me on further investigation, though, because it was written from a liberal and not a conservative, fundamentalist, standpoint.)
 —And the Vote of Thanks by the Head Boy, and the Senior Choir (again), and the Vote of Thanks by the Vice-Chairman of the School Governors Mrs. E. M. Hope (in those days before the use of inclusive language (“chairperson” or just “chair”) a “chairman” could be a woman), and then finally, finally — freedom! Well, almost: for even the leaving of the place had to be done in due order.

David Jones and David Doyle

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