Warminster pupils set a ‘great’ challenge for Headmaster, Mark Mortimer, which he fulfilled with gusto and flair at Speech Day.

From the moment parents, pupils, governors and teachers packed into the sports hall for Speech Day, there was a palpable sense of expectation and excitement. The hall, atmospherically lit, with showman tunes filling the arena as people took their seats, hinted that this year’s proceedings were going to be a little bit different.  VERY different as it turned out!

As the lights dimmed, a film, Game of Zones, began to play detailing the story of Curriculum Enrichment Day, which took place some 5 months earlier. Setting the scene perfectly, the audience enjoyed the entertaining and sometimes amusing build-up to the Headmaster’s challenge.

Then, it was the moment the audience had been waiting for: The Strictly Come Dancing theme tune filled the hall and the Headmaster and his wife were finally revealed in striking silhouette against a background of tumbling smoke.  Speech Day?  This was Show Time!

Cutting a dash in top hat, tails and ball gown, the pair deftly danced and twirled their way through and around the applauding audience to the familiar soundtrack of 'Johnny’s Mambo', from the much loved film Dirty Dancing.  It was laughter and smiles all round, and probably with some considerable relief for the Headmaster, as he finally took his place on the stage. The first half of Mr Mortimer’s challenge, as determined by our creative pupils, was complete.

Still resplendent in his Greatest Showman jacket, Mr Mortimer then gave a thought provoking, and at times emotional speech.  He reflected on his 5 years as Headmaster of Warminster, but also spent time considering the future, not just for Warminster School, but also for the private education sector as a whole.  As Mr Mortimer ended, he invited Year 13 pupil, Brett Riley, to receive the Headmaster’s Prize.  If ever there was an example of a Warminster pupil placing themselves firmly outside their comfort zone, and epitomising the ‘Why not you?’ motto, it is Brett. It was clear to everyone present that both the Headmaster and Brett had gained so much from each other over the last 4 years since they first met in Derby, during the ITV School Swap programme.

Brett said, “I was so proud to stand on the stage today and receive my award and share this wonderful emotional moment with the Headmaster. Thank you for the life changing opportunities, experiences and giving me the chance to meet some amazing people and create memories I will never forget. Thank you Warminster School”.

With the serious business of the Headmaster’s speech delivered, he now faced an even more daunting challenge - the second half of his challenge. Joined on stage by the Warminster Singers (made up of pupils & staff), Mr Mortimer gamely performed his very own version of ‘This is Me’ from the 'Greatest Showman', demonstrating that even Headmasters can be taken out of their comfort zone and embrace challenge.  The standing ovation that followed was a tremendous moving testament to the respect and gratitude that Warminster have for Mr Mortimer and for all that he has achieved.

Tash Eeles, is without doubt the youngest keynote speaker to address Warminster School on a Speech Day.  At the age of just 24, she is the founder of Bold Voices, a start-up social enterprise that provides equality education workshops and lectures for schools and universities in the UK. Her message to pupils was profound – find the issue in the world that you are passionate about, surround yourself with a strong community, and discover the joy in striving for something other than your own personal gain.  Each of these elements had come, for her, from her ten years at Warminster School; providing her with the moral compass, conviction and confidence to embark on her chosen career path. 

Singing and dancing aside, this was a Speech Day that will be remembered not only for its theatrical highlights, but also for the genuine, inspirational words from all.

Tim Watts, Director of Sport at Warminster, summed up the occasion perfectly, "You can only admire those that stand by their word and when challenged, step up and prove what they believe in. Headmaster, we all tip our hat to you. Today you were indeed the greatest showman." 


Thank you to: Yellow Balloon Films, David Wiltshire Photography, Andrew Whiting Lighting, Viva La Dance, Daines Atelier, Jonathan Bonnell, Stella Aldridge, Carolyn Eeles, Fiona Beach-MacGeagh, Jamie Baker (Yr 10), Jamie Holmes (Yr 8) and our Warminster colleagues for their generous assistance: Maintenance, IT, Music, and Domestic departments.

**Yellow Balloon Films present – GAME OF ZONES

**Jon Edkins Speech Day images David Wiltshire Photographs