www.Poundswick .org.uk

Prizegiving Ceremonies

The encouragement of academic achievement was a high priority at Poundswick and School Reports were written on every pupil twice per year. However, the occasion on which individual achievement was publicly recognised was the annual Prizegiving Ceremony, which was held in the school hall towards the end of March each year.
It was a full-day event, with a rehearsal in the morning, Junior Prizegiving in the afternoon and Senior Prizegiving in the evening. The ceremonies were very formal, with the prizegiving preceeded by singing the school hymn, and speeches by the Headmaster and a local dignitary, which, in the case of the Senior Prizegiving, was always at least a senior member of the Manchester Education Committee. Sometimes the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Manchester would attend in person in which case the Mayor himself would give a speech. After the prizegiving, the school orchestra and choir performed a few well-rehearsed pieces and a brave (and presumably very nervous) soloist would play the clarinet, viola, organ or some other instrument. Each ceremony ended with the singing of the National Anthem.
The prizes themselves were, of course, always books and if you were in line for one you were expected to choose something appropriate. The Beano Annual, for example, was not appropriate and when, on one occasion, I tentatively enquired if I could receive a model aircraft kit in place of a book, I was damn near expelled for making such an irreverent suggestion. So I made do with a book about model aircraft; Poundswick was where I learned the art of compromise.
In retrospect, I suppose that books do have the advantage of potential longevity and the few that I received are certainly now treasured posessions. Each prize had a distinctive bold label gummed to the inside cover and Mr. Mitchell, the Art Master, personally inscribed each one with the appropriate details. It must have taken him many hours each year. Collecting the prize involved waiting for your name to be called out then bolting up the stairs onto the stage, looking the presenter in the eye while he or she shook your hand and then disappearing back from where you had come, clutching your new literary acquisition.
The Prizegiving Ceremony progressed according to a pre-printed order of proceedings which, thoughtfully, always included the words of the school hymn on the back page for the benefit of visitors unfamiliar with it. Poundswickians themselves were, of course, expected to sing it from memory! As an example, I've included below the inside pages from the March 1965 Prizegiving:

So, for how long did the Annual Prizegiving Ceremonies survive? Were they always as formal as described above or did the style change in later years? If you can remember any details about them, particularly after 1966, please tell us.