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22 August

August OV News


It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our inspirational Headmaster, Matthew Armstrong. Matthew passed away suddenly in the early hours of Sunday 11th August after suffering a pulmonary embolism.

Hugh Carslake, Chair of Governors said “We will pay tribute to Matthew’s exceptional contribution to the vibrancy and success of the Foundation and its community in due course. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Kate, his parents and family.

Matthew’s leadership has left the school in a strong position and the Governors are confident that Mr Jon Ricketts, the current Senior Deputy and Acting Headmaster, will in the interim continue to take the school forward, building on Matthew’s legacy.”

Jon Ricketts, Acting Headmaster added, “The whole school community has been deeply shocked and saddened by this tragic news. Matthew was a passionate and visionary Headmaster and was well respected by pupils, parents and his colleagues.

We are all working to support each other, the wider King’s community and Matthew’s family through this sad time.

A Book of Condolences is now available outside the Library in School House at the Senior School. School House will be open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm until Monday 2nd September. We would welcome any thoughts or messages to be shared there.”

The Memorial Service for Matthew will take place on Monday 21st October at 2.30pm in Worcester Cathedral.

OVs cricket journey from UK to Australia

It was wonderful news to learn that OV Simon Insley (Br 99-06) has just been appointed as General Manager of High Performance of Cricket Tasmania and the Hobart Hurricanes and Simon has sent us this fantastic overview of his time since leaving King’s…

“After leaving King’s I went to Nottingham University to study Physiotherapy.

The year after University, with the goal to travel around the Southern Hemisphere whilst working. To set me up for work, I gained New Zealand Physiotherapy registration.

After six months of working in a private practice in Auckland I was offered a chance to be the ’Assistant Physiotherapist’ for the Auckland Cricket team. Two years following this I was made Head Physiotherapist of the Auckland cricket Team. Due to an ability to create trust and strong relationships with both the players and the management I was appointed High Performance Manager to oversee the professional cricket set up of cricket in Auckland. I gained support professional with the national body and I was appointed New Zealand ‘A’ team Manager for their tour against Pakistan in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. This summer I was lucky enough to be asked to join the BLACKCAPS as part of their management team for the Cricket World Cup in England.

To be a part of the World Cup with all my family travelling to all the New Zealand games was all a dream come true. My first cricket tour was with King’s when we toured Barbados with Mr Gillgrass (Hon OV) and Mr Iddon (Hon OV).

The dream was so nearly a fairytale, being a part of the most famous of cricket World Cup finals at Lords last month. To be on the balcony during the super over will be a day that I will never forget and a part of me will always be at Lords for those final moments.

After returning back to New Zealand, I have been offered a role as General Manager of High Performance of Cricket Tasmania and the Hobart Hurricanes, replacing Drew Ginn who has been appointed High Performance Manager of Cricket Australia. The role is to report to the Chief Executive on all the cricket departments to ensure that the state is striving for excellence to achieve its strategic goals.

I am hugely grateful that my parents gave me the upbringing that I had and decided to send me to King’s. There is no doubt that the social skills that the school and teachers developed through my school years have been a crucial reason that I have been able to achieve success in professional sport on the other side of the world. The support, challenge and broad life skills that King’s developed has enabled me to build a number of relationships at all levels of a professional cricket team.

I look forward to one day coming back to the School and seeing the progress the school has made.”

(Photos courtesy of Simon Insley)

Fantastic A-Level Results for the Year of 2019

A-Level students have enjoyed another successful examination season with over 40% of results graded at A*-A, close to 70% graded A*-B and 87% of results graded A*-C. Over 25 students achieved 3 or more A*/A grades.

Our newest OVs also excelled themselves with fantastic Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) results, achieving the highest results to date. This year our biggest ever cohort with 24 students completing the EPQ with 63% receiving A*s and almost 90% A*/A.

The thriving Art and Modern Languages departments performed exceptionally well, with 100% of students receiving the equivalent of A*-A for Pre-U Art and 88% of students receiving A*-B in German, French and Spanish. We are also delighted with the results from the first cohort of Computer Science students where 75% achieved A*-B grades.

On results day, Acting Headmaster, Jon Ricketts praised the students on their achievements:

“Following the particularly sad news at the start of the week it’s wonderful to share with the students their fantastic news. This impressive set of results is a real credit to the Sixth Formers and is a result of their dedication and hard work.

“I am very proud, not only of the academic achievements they have made, but also how they have grown as individuals, developing their own passions, interests and ambitions. I know that Matthew Armstrong would have felt the same and would have been delighted with their success. Matthew’s vision was to ensure that students leave King’s curious about the world, excited to learn and able to adapt to future changes. Our leavers are now fully prepared as they continue with the next chapter of their lives.”

We are thrilled that this year’s Head of School, Sam Martyn-Smith (Cl 12-19), who is planning to study Bio-Chemistry, achieved an A* in Biology, two A grades in Chemistry and Classics and an A* in his EPQ.

We are delighted that so many of our students are going on to higher education, including five students who received confirmed places at Oxford or Cambridge and five with offers to study medicine or veterinary sciences and one who will be joining a much sought-after Unilever degree apprenticeship. Other King’s students will go on to study a wide range of other subjects at leading institutions including Law, English, Geography, Drama and Music to name a few.

More OV A-level stories can be found here

Catching up with OV Christopher Benson (Cl 43-47)

It gives the Development & Alumni Relations team such pleasure to welcome OVs back to school and earlier this summer Christopher Benson (Cl 43-47) visited King’s and Worcester for the day.  Christopher has strong memories of King’s and in particular of some of the teachers at school in the 1940s. He attributes his decision to join the Navy to his teacher, R Pedder, however Christopher says that he was ill-prepared for the Royal Navy entrance test which meant he was obliged to join the Merchant Navy, where he recalls a total lack of discipline amongst the lower ranks, leading him to appreciate the discipline from King’s (even if at times, it had been somewhat harsh).  As Christopher toured the school with Development Director, Liz Elliott, one of his most vivid memories came when entering the current Humanities block, encapsulated in the feature of the green tiled walls, which brought back memories of much time spent in this building, where Christopher’s form room (with House Master, Alec Macdonald) had been and upstairs, where he had taken Latin lessons with Miss Anne Campbell and Art lessons with Miss ‘Miffy’ Campbell.

Christopher was very impressed with the Michael Baker Boathouse and enjoyed meeting King’s School Boatman, Will Bird who brought Christopher up to date with King’s latest rowing news; Christopher told Will that he is involved with the Company of Watermen and Lightermen in London and in designing a new window in the main Hall of the Company showing the important roles within the Company.  This company supports young boys and girls, providing them with the crewing and river skills and an education, with an apprenticeship scheme facilitating the development of competent and highly skilled river craft Masters and crew to manage vessels on the River Thames.  Christopher’s passion to support young people and to help them achieve their potential and provide them with viable and attractive careers also reflects itself in his interest in our current Bursary Scheme at King’s, providing children who would not otherwise have the means, with opportunity to be educated at our school.

Liz and Christopher donned hard hats and high visibility jackets to take a quick peak into College Hall, which is currently undergoing building work in association with Worcester Cathedral’s renovation of the Undercroft underneath the Hall.  Christopher remembers attending assemblies in College Hall in the 1940s (and leaving his bike outside, ready for a quick exit … attendance records could not have been as thorough as current day!).  After their visit to this iconic building, Liz and Christopher took some time to visit Worcester Cathedral.  Christopher has been a lay Canon at Salisbury Cathedral  and he was very interested to see the newly renovated West Window at Worcester.  Christopher also admired the rood screen in the cathedral, as Salisbury does not possess such a screen.

Christopher has had an incredibly interesting and varied career, holding numerous Chairmanship and Director roles within a number of high profile companies, such as Boots PLC, Costain PLC, London Docklands Development Corporation, MEPC Property, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group plc and House of Fraser to name a few.  We were delighted that Christopher was able to come and spend some time with us at King’s and share some of his earliest memories from his boyhood days in Worcester.

OV Graduation Stories 2019

We are always thrilled to hear how OVs are getting on in the years after leaving King’s and we love
hearing their graduation news! Here are a selection of this year’s graduation stories. Many congratulations
to all our OVs who have graduated this year so far and those
who will graduate later in the year too!

It was great to hear from OV Ellie Jarvie (Os 11-15) who has recently graduated from a four-year Business  Management degree at the University of Edinburgh! Ellie says, “I have now been offered a job as a Business Transformations Consultant at Oracle and am due to start working in London in September. I have had the most incredible four years and am really excited to start the next stage in my life.”




Many congratulations to OV and King’s Scholar Daniel Williams (Cl 09-15) who has graduated from Birmingham University! Daniel achieved a First in Physics and Astrophysics Masters and has secured a scholarship to do a further Masters in Meteorology and Climatology at Birmingham.




Congratulations to OV Siân Maguire (Ch 07-14) who writes, “I’ve graduated with merit from the University of Bristol where I studied medicine, and am now working as a junior doctor in the NHS. I had the opportunity to spend some time in Nepal earlier this year, working in the trauma and emergency department in Kathmandu, as well as a rural health outpost placement – both were fantastic experiences. Alongside my degree I got involved in research, and will be presenting my first paper at the International Congress of Paediatric Oncology in Lyon this autumn.”



Fantastic news from OV Jack Furber (K 08-15) who reports,

“I graduated from Leicester De Montfort University with a first class degree in Footwear Design (BA Hons). I’m currently looking for opportunities in the Footwear & Fashion industries, and plan to have my own brand in the future.”


(Photos top to bottom courtesy of Ellie Jarvie, Debbie Williams, Siân Maguire & Jack Furber)



Sad news about John Turner (Hon OV)

We are sad to report that John Turner (Hon OV) and member of King’s staff for 35 years has sadly passed away. John joined King’s in September 1960 as a mathematics teacher and over the years became a house tutor, then Housemaster of Chappel House before being appointed Senior Master in 1988. John was also tasked with the job of setting the annual school timetable, at a time before the arrival of computers at King’s. John retired from King’s in 1995.

John died after a long period of illness, endured stoically, and will be much missed by his family, friends and OVs.

More details on funeral arrangements will follow.

(Photo courtesy of Ann Turner)

OV in exciting e-book collaboration

It was great to discover that OV Jake Capleton (Br 01-06) has been involved in a new legal e-book, The New Age Lawyers Ebook!

Jake says, “The book was a collaboration between myself, Anna Lozynski (Executive General Counsel of L’Oreal Australia) and a number of other legal innovation professionals around the world. The book is about what it takes to live, breathe and thrive in the legal roles of the future, in the context of an industry undergoing increasing technological disruption.

It was a great experience, and there is something very satisfying about collaborating with people I’ve never met to produce a digital-only book about how technology enables better ways of working.”

(Photo courtesy of Jake Capleton)


OV Sculptor exhibiting at Spetchley park gardens

If you are looking for a perfect way to spend a day out then look no further than Spetchley Park Gardens where their ‘Sculptures in the Gardens’ will be featuring works from our very own OV sculptor Martin Lorenz (S 45-50).

There will be 140 sculptures from the Oxford Sculptors Group displayed throughout the Gardens and within the Learning Centre until the 8th September including some of Martin’s extraordinary works.

(Photo courtesy of Martin Lorenz)

Three Choirs Festival- Review of Adrian Partington’s
“Damnation of Faust” by OV Clive Marks

We are delighted to have this review sent in from OV Clive Marks (S 69-74) of OV conductor Adrian Partington (S 66-76)’s “Damnation of Faust” performed during the Three Choirs Festival held at Gloucester Cathedral, on 27th July 2019.

“It was shameful that I had spent five years at King’s, had a love of choral music and yet I had never been to the Three Choirs Festival.  That was about to be corrected.

My husband and I had booked a visit to the Vale Wildlife Hospital, outside Tewkesbury, with whom we had done some training in hedgehog care earlier in the year, and I wondered when and where the Three Choirs Festival was this year, just in case we could combine the visits.  By sheer good luck, the event would be in Gloucester cathedral and the booking opened to the general public the following morning.  My luck increased when I saw that the opening concert would be my favourite piece to perform, Berlioz’s “Damnation of Faust”.  My good luck then went through the roof on realising that its conductor would be Adrian Partington, O.V.  The following morning, I was onto the booking as soon as it opened, nabbing two seats of the tiered seating over the West door, and by lunchtime all the decent tickets had sold out.

It is now 45 years since I left King’s and for that final year, 1973-74, I was in charge of School House’s junior dormitory (me and 17 boys from the Removes) and Adrian had been one of “my boys”.  We did not see each other again until the following event. About 20 years ago, Adrian went to London to take a rehearsal of the London Symphony Chorus while our chorus master was away.  I intended introducing myself to him after the rehearsal.  However, during the rehearsal he needed to berate us basses, for failing to make exactly the sound that he wanted, and started to tell us off.  As he turned to face us, he spotted me grinning back at him and froze, mid-sentence, before rapidly regaining his composure and berating us as before.

Today would be my chance to have the thrill of watching him conduct this fantastic piece, which requires him to command such huge forces.  I let him know that I would be there and promised him that, despite knowing the score very well, I would resist the temptation to sing along during the concert.
We arrived in the cathedral well before the rehearsal and I was able to have a word with him.  He was so excited at the prospect of conducting this piece for the first time and we had a quick chat about some of the more fun parts of the piece.  We could easily have chatted for much longer about this piece but he had work to do.

Wandering around the cathedral, we soon realised that many seats would have to watch the performance on screens and we wondered how the sound would be in the transepts and other remote corners of the building.  Inevitably, the acoustics of the cathedral muffled some of the details but the overall effect was stunning.

Whenever Adrian needed to stop the rehearsal, he would give very clear directions as to what he required from everyone.  These were acted on immediately and this enabled Adrian to conduct with great reserve, the mark of a great conductor, as all the preparation has been done.  During the performance, just a quick glance at the musicians was all that was needed to bring out exactly what had been rehearsed.  Having performed this piece with various conductors and orchestras, including this one, it was clear that the Philharmonia orchestra has great regard for Adrian’s musicianship.

We had booked a pre-concert supper in the King’s dining hall which brought back memories of doing the same at our own King’s and we got to chat to various others who were going to the concert, just as we had done in our hotel the previous evening.  It seemed that most of the people that we had spoken to over the last 24 hours would be going to the concert, some having come from America for the whole festival.  By an amazing coincidence, the people sitting directly in front of us were old friends from the London Symphony Chorus, with whom I had performed this piece many times.  This was going to be an evening of fabulous music among old and new friends.

The excited, pre-concert buzz around the cathedral close was palpable and soon we were in our lofty seats, with a grand view down onto the stage, hoping for a good balance of sound from all the performers. The Dean came on to do the usual announcements and prayer before inviting everyone to welcome to the stage “Our director of music, the best of any cathedral in the country, Adrian Partington”.  Wow, what an introduction and the audience gave him a rapturous welcome, showing just how much Adrian is loved and respected in the cathedral and the wider musical world.  I suddenly found myself experiencing a new emotion: great joy at the achievement of one of “my boys”.

Very rapidly, we realised that the presence of the audience had improved the acoustics and we could now hear so many details from all parts of the orchestra.  Faust has a lot to say for himself throughout the piece and Peter Hoare was definitely aiming for a semi-staged performance.  He may have been trying to test his pitch, but his habit of putting his hand next to his face would occasionally muffle his voice.  This was a particular problem in his dream about Marguerite when his heart-wrenching cry of her name, one of the emotional highpoints of the piece, got completely lost into the palm of his hand.
As the piece progressed, he seemed to develop problems with his voice as he would more frequently produce wince-inducing shrieks on his top notes. Perhaps he was just wrapped up in the emotion, and impending damnation, of his character.

Naturally, I was keen to hear how the Festival Chorus coped with the many details that the score demands, with so many off-beat stresses and forte-pianos and they were absolutely brilliant.  Being such a fan of this piece, having once taken the score on holiday as my reading material, I even found myself breathing in the same place as the chorus.

This is a real showcase for the men (yes, I do include the lady tenor amongst them) and Adrian had had the good sense to put the men at the front, with the ladies being posted all the way up to the top, as the angelic host, assisted by the choristers on the chancel screen in the final scene.  They did a fantastic job of the various characters that they had to play: reverent Christian; drunks, accompanying Brander (David Ireland) in his song about a rat and Mephistopheles in his song about a flea; students and soldiers in the cave of Auerbach.

Christopher Purves played a brilliantly malevolent Mephistopheles who was not going to allow Faust a moment of peace.  At one point, he found a musical opportunity to poke fun at Adrian, to which Adrian responded in good spirit. The whole chorus also had many fabulous numbers and every single one was performed in a different style with such flair and accomplishment.  This gave great colour to the performance and really tripped the story along with great gusto, sending us all out for the interval with a good thirst for the bar.

After the interval, it was the time for Marguerite (Susan Bickley) to make her poignant entry and to woo us as a vulnerable ingenue.  What we got was more of a strident school ma’am who was not going to be messed around with, especially when she got to her top notes.  For those, she would pump up her lungs and hit them with a vocal sledgehammer: more can belto than bel canto.  Those were decidedly ugly moments but one just had to ignore them and focus on the rest, which was fine.  Meanwhile the men of the chorus, who were meant be echoing their student songs from afar, were exquisitely accurate in sounding as if they were singing from outside the cathedral, even thought we could see them singing on stage.

The build-up to Faust’s damnation was played with chilling accuracy thanks to Adrian bravely stretching the tempi well beyond those of a normal performance.  This created a real sense of impending doom which the performers responded to consummately. For the Pandemonium chorus, it is a brave conductor who instructs his tenors and basses to wait so long before standing up as they then have to hit their entry as soon as they have stood up.  The effect is a dramatic entry of the chorus who cast Faust into the abyss of Hell and serenade the triumph of Mephistopheles in Berlioz’s invented, demonic language.  The chorus got rather drowned by the orchestra in the first part but came to the fore for the rest of this scene, getting louder and louder.  Only the finale of Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand demands as much volume and now was Adrian’s moment to completely lose his conductor’s reserve, by waving his arms in the air above his head and squeezing every last decibel from the men.  The effect was both spine-tingling and tear-jerking.

A final chorus by the men evoked the terrors into which Faust had now been cast and, with a few shifts of key, the ladies (and a counter-tenor) completely changed the mood for the apotheosis of Marguerite.  Whoever the lady in the chorus was who sang the solo cry of “Margarita”, she captured the vulnerability of Marguerite’s soul with wonderful tenderness.

After more than two hours, with the audience having been taken through every emotion, the piece came to its tranquil end and Adrian held his baton aloft, to hold that final silence, for what felt like ages and nobody moved.  As soon as Adrian lowered his baton, the audience burst into rapturous applause and I had to grab my handkerchief, as my cheeks had gone very soggy.

We managed to find Adrian and I wanted to know how he felt about having conducted this piece for the first time.  With boyish enthusiasm, he bounced around telling us that “I just want to do it all over again.  It is a comedy, a tragedy and everything else.  It’s wonderful”.  Such infectious enthusiasm has taken Adrian to wonderful heights of his profession and it will continue to endear him to music-lovers for many years to come.  BRAVO, Adrian.

(Photo courtesy of Clive Marks)