Celebrating 150 years and our inaugural Giving Day
By Michael Windsor, Headmaster

As a school with a long history, Abingdon has a number of significant anniversaries. 1256, when we know funds were bequeathed to a school attached to the abbey in Abingdon. 1563, when the School was re-founded after the Dissolution of the Monasteries as a free grammar school by John Roysse. But this year the number to remember is 150, because in 1870, 150 years ago, the School moved from its historic buildings next to the Abbey Gateway to our current site next to Albert Park.

Although the School now looks very different, the Victorian buildings, which house Big School and School House, remain at the heart of Abingdon. They provide a direct connection with the staff, governors and parents who took the brave decision to move to much bigger buildings in 1870, even though the numbers in the school were far smaller than today. The year 2020 gives us therefore a reason to reflect on the School’s history and traditions but it’s also a chance to consider what we stand for today and the kind of school we want to be.

Our powerful connections with the local community has, throughout our history, been an integral part of the School and this continues in the present day with our burgeoning partnerships programme and with our bursary programme.

It’s important to remember that there is a long tradition of providing free and assisted places through bursaries at Abingdon and this certainly remains a key part of my vision for the School. I want us to be open to as many boys from as many different backgrounds as possible, this has always been one of the School’s particular strengths.

I am looking forward to having the opportunity to shine a light on our bursaries programme and to celebrate what Abingdon is all about with our first ever Giving Day on Wednesday 18 March. We know that many of our parents already make significant sacrifices to send their sons to us, so we have ambitious plans to raise funds to allow us to double the number of bursaries we can offer.

The Giving Day will be an entertaining day of online activity, recording what’s going on in the School, including various challenges which the school community are going to set themselves. For my part, I plan to swim 150 lengths of the school pool before work that day. I am no Olympic swimmer – trust me, this is quite a challenge for me! I am not sure what time I’ll eventually make it into the office…

I hope everyone in the Abingdon community will want to take part in the day, whether it’s by taking up a challenge (#150challenge), sharing stories or by making a gift; every penny raised will go towards ensuring that boys will be able to enjoy the exceptional education that we offer, regardless of their circumstances.

I note that 1870 was also the year that Charles Dickens died. Of course we look forward to the Giving Day – and the rest of 2020 – with great expectations…

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