Founders’ Day 2023: Inspiring Futures

May 5, 2023

In keeping with this year’s theme Inspiring Futures, Withington’s Founders’ Day celebration held at Manchester’s prestigious Bridgewater Hall on 2nd May was a joyful, uplifting occasion filled with motivational speeches, wonderful music, poignant readings and heartfelt tributes also to the school’s 2023 Ad Lucem award winners.

Guest speaker for the occasion was Dr Louise Maynard-Atem, a Withington Class of 2004 alumna and current school Governor, who, after presenting this year’s leavers with their chosen books, a tradition she remembered well, went on to speak with great passion of her ‘non-linear’ career which, she said, had been inspired by her time at Withington.

Reflecting on her career, which has seen her win a number of national and tech awards, Dr Maynard-Atem attributed her success, to the combination of skills, values and knowledge she had picked up during her time at Withington.

And looking back at the aspirations she had held during her own school days Dr Maynard-Atem, accompanied at the event by a group of alumnae friends and members of her family, outlined how her ideas and plans had evolved since she left Withington and urged current pupils to be open to change.

Mrs Haslam had spoken in her speech of the blend of qualities that makes Withington such an inspirational place and which had resulted in the School being recognised by the Sunday Times as North West Independent Secondary School of the Decade and named as North West Independent Secondary School of the Year for the fourth consecutive time.

“Such success is not inevitable but is the result of the hard work, imagination, skills and attitude of those who make up our community, present and past, and who create the special chemistry that inspires us all to give of our best.”

Mrs Haslam also paid tribute to Miss Hulme, an inspirational Withington Headmistress (1961 -1985), who celebrated her 100th birthday last year. Miss Hulme had established the WGS bursary fund and as the school works towards its target of enabling one in five of our pupils to benefit from a Withington bursary, this year the Fund has been dedicated in her name, she said.

Mrs Haslam then went on to present the 2023 Ad Lucem awards. Launched in 2021, the awards recognise alumnae – voted for by pupils – who are role models and whose achievements, outlook and conduct reflects the school’s ethos and values, making them exceptional public ambassadors for the school community. You can read more about the 2023 Ad Lucem awards here:

The final speech of the afternoon came from Head Girl Georgia Campbell in which she likened her time at Withington to elements from the 2018 Abba-inspired film Mamma Mia! Here we go again;

A perfect blend of stories, music and friendship that had “shaped and inspired my future beyond the school walls,” she said.

Withington’s musicians, as always, are to be congratulated on their wonderful contribution. The choir delivered beautiful uplifting performances of Fields of Gold and Run, and the orchestra performed a rousing version of a West Side Story ensemble – Sections for Orchestra Music. This was the first full orchestral performance at a Founders’ Day celebration since October 2019 and it was a very welcomed return indeed.

Readings were Look Out – A Poem of Hope by Philip Ardag, read by a Third Form member and Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss and read by three Lower Sixth students.