Left to right: Sara, daughter of the late David Spencer (SH 1948-53),Charlie Farquhar (winner of The David Spencer Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Boys' Sport), Tim Lamb (SH 1966-71), Hannah Pritchard (winner of the Eleanor Gurden Award for Outstanding Contribution to Girls' Sport) and Eleanor Gurden (MSH 2008-10)
The celebratory lunch was attended by Sixth Form pupils, parents, staff and representatives of OS sports clubs, who enjoyed an entertaining keynote speech by guest-of-honour Tim Lamb (SH 1966-71), former first class cricketer and current Chief Executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
During the presentation ceremony, Director of Sport Paul Greetham and EDH Housemistress Kait Weston (standing in at the last minute for Head of Girls' Sport Nicola Bradburne who was sadly unable to attend the lunch because of family illness) paid tribute to each of the Award winners. The testimonials are included below and give an insight into the strength of character, commitment and hard work that have made each of them such an inspiration for their peers.
This trophy has been generously given to the School by John Scott, a life-long friend of the late David Spencer (SH 1948-53), who died in 2012. John asked that the trophy be given to the most outstanding sportsman of the year. We were delighted to welcome John to the Sports Award lunch, together with David's daughter, Sara, who presented the trophy to its first recipient.
David Spencer played for the School’s 1st XI football team for four seasons and captained the side for two seasons, an extremely rare feat in the 20th century at Shrewsbury. He also enjoyed three seasons as a 1st XI cricketer and a season as one of the top four Fives players. He is remembered as one of the great team men at Shrewsbury; he understood the value of sport at School and knew it might never be the same again. Historically, there are not many other Salopians more worthy of having an award named after them. He was a true gentleman, a truly honest sportsman and a proud Salopian.
The first recipient of the David Spencer Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Boys Sport is admired by all. He is held in such high esteem and was easily the most nominated person for this honour by staff and his peers. He has an impeccable school record on and off the sports field – quite simply an outstanding role model for younger pupils in his House Severn Hill, and those who watch from the sidelines. Sport has not only made this young man many friends, but it has hardened him, and he is a tough competitor but always fair. He has always been an obvious choice as a Captain – capable of calculated strategic decisions as a cricket captain and also barking instruction as a leader on the football and rugby field. As a leader of pupils, he maintains strong and trusted relationships and stays loyal to both his friends and staff, which is one of the most testing paths to tread. “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch” – he does it all with aplomb.
One of his teammates when nominating him wrote this: “I think he deserves this if not simply for the fact he has played in the football, rugby and cricket 1st team for two years, but that he has done so without being a sports scholar and has been crucial in all the sports teams he has played for. I can't think of a more worthy winner for a school sports prize, and for that side-step if nothing else”.
On a personal level, I have been proud to be associated with him and to have coached him for all but one of his years at Shrewsbury. My first ever duty as Director of Sport was the pre-season football tour to La Manga, and he was one of the first of the lads to say hello and make conversation. He made a lasting impression on me then. He was an obvious choice as captain of my first cricket team at Shrewsbury, and more recently I have valued him terrifically on the many, many sports tours we have enjoyed together and as a 1st XV rugby player for two years. I cannot be more pleased that he becomes a role model to many more young people as a gap student at Southport School, Queensland from July this year.
Winner of The Eleanor Gurden Award for Outstanding Contribution to Girls’ Sport – Hannah Pritchard (EDH)
Eleanor Gurden (MSH 2008-10) made an unbelievable impact on the introduction of girls’ sport to Shrewsbury School. Her interests and involvement were vast – she played hockey, netball, tennis, athletics and rounders at 1st team level, and played to international level in the latter. She was the first ever Head of Girls’ Sport and Captain of Boats. Since leaving in 2010, Elle has been getting as involved at Manchester University where she reads Chemistry, still plays hockey and tennis, whilst furthering her interest in ballet and yoga. She could not contain her delight when I asked her to name this award, which says a great deal about the pride she feels as one of the first stars of girls’ sport at Shrewsbury, and also about her as a person. I am indebted to the Gurdens as a family for donating this beautiful trophy, which I hope will be presented to many down the years who live up to Elle’s spirit, enthusiasm and sporting ability.
Hannah Pritchard has been heavily involved in sport since she started her career at Shrewsbury. She has played at the highest level and represented the School in hockey, netball, fives, tennis and rounders and she has always done so with enthusiasm and determination. It’s this determination that makes her the outstanding sportswoman she is and which has also meant she has been one of the driving forces of house sport this year. Her motivational character enables her to encourage people to get involved in sport at all levels, whilst always striving for perfection herself and never satisfied with anything less.
She is a very good hockey player and an exceptional netballer. On the hockey pitch she works tirelessly, supporting through midfield and setting up the forwards. She is an excellent team player and a strong, positive character who people look up to. She is an effective communicator and has the ability to get the best out of everyone. On the netball court she has the ability to turn over play quickly through her reading of the game and quick reactions which can then totally change the direction of the match. These qualities transfer brilliantly to Fives, where this year she was part of the first pair. At the Ladies Open Championships at Eton this year, the pair made Salopian history by making it through to the semi-finals, which was a phenomenal achievement. At the National Schools Championships there was yet more history made, as the pair claimed Shrewsbury’s highest ever finish and a plate trophy.
The commitment and dedication to sport continues into the summer term, where she plays first pair tennis, producing some excellent performances against a variety of opposition. This demonstrates her ability to manage her academic life with regular training sessions, lectures and team fixtures. She has a positive approach to every task she undertakes, she has the respect of those around her, she is extremely hard working and deserving of all the praise and recognition she receives.
Sportsman of the Year – Max Pragnell (G)
Our Sportsman of the Year is one of the best footballers Shrewsbury School has ever seen; indeed, he is one of the best all-round sportsmen the School has seen. He possesses fantastic athleticism and can turn his hand to all sports. He does not do average – whatever sport he plays he will only do to the very highest standard. He is a very good swimmer, cricketer, athlete, gymnast and basketball player – to name but a few.
His major sport at Shrewsbury School has been football. He has hardly missed a match in the five years he has been here; testament to his strength and fitness levels, as he plays in one of the most injury-prone positions on the pitch. His attitude to all training sessions is nothing less than first class, no matter the climate, pitch conditions or workload. He is quick, skilful and brave, and possesses the ability to score with both feet as well as being excellent in the air.
As an Under-15 he gained national recognition and played for the ISFA team. In his final year he was unlucky not to be selected again and many coaches from opposing schools could not believe he had been omitted from the squad, as he is held in such high esteem around the Independent Schools circuit. He has recently played for the Shropshire Schools FA U18 team who reached the semi-final of the ESFA Inter-County Trophy.
He has played 1st XI football for three years. As a Fifth Former and whilst playing against boys two years older, stronger and wiser than him, he still scored 21 goals. In total in three seasons he has played 88 matches and scored 91 goals. This is a new school goal-scoring record which could stand for many years.
He now moves on to attend a soccer scholarship at Davidson College in America, where we wish him all the best with the next stage of his life.
Sportswoman of the Year – Libby Naylor (EDH)
Libby Naylor is one of the most driven, enthusiastic and deeply committed sportswomen I have ever come across. She puts all her energy, heart and soul into every performance, whatever the sport, and ensures she never gives anything less than 100%.
She is an exceptional hockey player, taking apart oppositions with her speed and skill regularly. On sports tour she was quickly identified by the Spanish coach as the ‘one to watch’ and the strength within the team that should be utilised as often as possible. He told the girls, don’t be afraid to use the same play regularly if that’s your strength and it’s obvious that this player is your strength. Use her again and again. It doesn’t matter if the opposition are expecting it; she will go past them anyway. She is well respected amongst coaches and players due to her exceptional talent, but also because she is hard working, determined and genuinely one of the most thoughtful and considerate girls I have ever met.
Although hockey is her major game, she is happy and more than capable of turning her hand to other sports with similar success. She has represented the school in the Hunt, fives and more recently netball – much to her own surprise – which demonstrates, as ever, her modesty when it comes to her sporting ability. However, the sport she really excels in is athletics. She arrived at Shrewsbury as an established athletics champion and has maintained her high level of training whilst still participating in full academic life along with school practices and fixtures. This demonstrates her determination to get the most out of her time at Shrewsbury and push everything to the limit. She was the recipient of the Victrix Ludorum for both years in the school Inter-House Athletics championships, dominating the field.
She has been described as determined, thoughtful, positive, fearless and her housemistress describes her as a ‘pocket rocket’!
Service to Sports Awards
Bridget Lapage (EDH)
Bridget Lapage is a leading light at the Boat Club. Girls’ rowing has developed rapidly over recent years, testament not only to the hard work of a committed bunch of girls but the dedication of our coaches Clare Wilson and Nathan Williams.
Bridget has demonstrated a drive and passion for the sport above all others. The youngest in a long line of outstanding oarsmen, she has flown the family flag admirably, and then some. She has been the one the other girls have looked to, to feed off. She was the one who approached me earlier this year to ask for more time to train. She has not always found it easy but has always bounced back harder and stronger.
With National Schools and Henley on the horizon and a great performance in illustrious company recently at Wallingford, these are exciting times for Bridget and her crew.
Ed Mallett (S)
Ed Mallett has truly given outstanding service for his Club and his achievements in cross-country running and athletics over five years have been exceptional. Having won the New Boys' race in the Third Form, despite there only being fewer than half a dozen Hunt runners in the whole School, he stuck with the Hunt the whole time. From the very outset he was a pivotal member of the squad, steering the Junior County Champs team to victory in his first year, the only trophy the Hunt won that year. The considerable success of The Hunt since then on a national level is due in no small part to this young man, who has developed into one of the leading athletes on the cross-country schools' circuit, winning the Midlands Championship individual title (one of only two Salopians ever to have done so), becoming county champion for a staggering three years in a row, and running the second fastest time in the country (out of over 300 runners) in the national relays last year. Tucks winner, Paperchase winner, club championship winner - the list goes on, and where there has been a title to win, he has got it! His ambition and determination have been huge assets and he has been an inspiration to many in the Club, not least his coaches. He does not boast or brag of his achievements, ever modest, and cares deeply and passionately about The Hunt, its traditions and its success. He is one of the most talented athletes we have seen at Shrewsbury for some time, and it will be a very sad day for us when he leaves the school and moves on to Oxford University where he will read Chemistry at Hertford College.
Edward Lloyd (Rt)
Ed Lloyd has given five sterling years of service to Shrewsbury School sport, notably in Fives, the Hunt and Football, and was made Captain of the 1st XI for the 2012-13 season. He has given up hundreds of hours for training and matches in these sports. He has always played for whichever team he has been selected and has always turned out for the Hunt even during a hectic football schedule. He has also played a good level of Squash and Cricket and memorably scored a fifty against some fairly hostile bowling from Steve Barnard in a House match.
He is a no nonsense sportsman who plays sport in exactly the right way and has never got it wrong on or off the pitch in terms of his attitude or behaviour towards team mates, opponents or coaches.
What makes his contribution to Shrewsbury School all the more remarkable is that he has a serious stomach condition of ulcerative colitis, which causes him a good deal of pain and discomfort. Yet he never makes a fuss.
James Humpish (SH)
There is a photograph taken after the 2008 New Boys' Race of a slightly overweight boy from School House looking very red-faced and brandishing a can of coke. He had placed not quite last, but certainly not far off it. Nobody - not even him - would have guessed back then that this was a Salopian who would go on to run in the Hunt for the full five years of his time at the School, and what's more, would be named as captain of the 2nd VIII in his final year.
He is one of the most inspirational and enthusiastic runners that Peter Middleton has come across in his time as coach. Back in the Third Form, he would run a Benjy in over 16 minutes, a time that most people would be able to beat with a brisk walk over the 2.3km course. It was something of a surprise to Peter that this same boy rocked up to the new junior elite Hunt training group a week later. It is fair to say that initially he was very much out of his depth. Yet he didn't give up; he went on that first training session, and what's more he came back the following week, and the next week, and in fact, he began to run more and more, and by the end of the year, he had taken over 4 minutes off his Benjy time. The following year he dipped under the elusive 10-minute barrier. Astonishingly, the 9-minute mark was broken by the Lower Sixth, and then in his final year, he posted a time that was the 15th-fastest out of the whole School, threatening sub-8 minutes. He had almost halved his time during the five years of his time here, and what's more, he had become a regular member of the Hunt squad, competing in many races across the country. Whilst there have been others who have achieved success on a more national level, and whilst he will never compete against the likes of Mallett and Blake, what he has shown is as much - if not more - determination than any other runner in the Hunt, and the improvements he has made have been quite startling. He is an inspirational figure - a true unsung hero if there ever was one - and his passion for running and The Hunt will no doubt last a lifetime. He will certainly be sorely missed, and I doubt there will ever be anyone quite like him.
Max Kimpton-Smith (O)
Max’s Housemaster reckons that if he had been told he would be receiving an award for services to School sport some years ago when he was in the Fourth Form, he would have been somewhat surprised. At that time his father, a Cambridge Blue himself, had been in touch with the Director of Sport and his Housemaster regarding a fitness regime for his son who, following injury, was struggling to push his way into the J15A boat.
Max began work and grew from cygnet to swan (his Oldham's peers refer to him as the "Golden Boy") and now the rest is history.
Max is a dedicated oarsman whose personal modesty and sportsmanship made him the perfect candidate for Captain of Boats. To combine this responsibility with other major School duties, namely Head Boy, is no mean feat and he very much deserves this award for service to sport and the Boat Club in particular.
Alistair Fisher (PH)
Our final service to sport award goes to somewhat of an unsung hero. He is the type of lad that can go under the radar and be taken for granted. He has an amazingly mature head on his shoulders and has made a great deal of his opportunities in football, rugby and cricket at Shrewsbury. He became a terrifically solid and dependable member of the 1st XI football squad after deciding to concentrate solely on football following an injury that prevented him from continuing to 1st XV standard as a rugby player.
He has made the most progress in cricket perhaps. Having been a B team player for most of his junior years, he blossomed into a pacey opening A team bowler in the Fifth Form and forced his way into the 1st XI tour party this year to South Africa with his left-arm swingers. It is his impeccable attitude, loyalty and service to Shrewsbury sport that we reward today. He would never admit to being the most naturally gifted player in any of his teams, but his peers and coaches value his tenacity, courage and sportsmanship above all else.