Urswick 500 Celebrations at St Paul’s Cathedral

Just one month into 2020, came the first of our 500th birthday celebrations.  A quincentennial is not only a long word – it is a long time!  It marks 5 centuries – half a millennium – of free education at the heart of Hackney, and a group of Urswick students began a year of festivities by participating in a service of thanksgiving for all London Church of England schools, at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Urswick students and staff have attended this annual service for the past few years – sharing in fellowship with all secondary and primary schools supported by the London Diocesan Board of Schools – but this year’s service was particularly special for us.  Three students – Natalie Awoku (Year 11), Havin Tunc (Year 10) and Joe Owen (Year 9) stood at the lecterns under the Great Dome of Christopher Wren’s monumental Cathedral, and spoke to a congregation of over 1500 London students, teachers and parents.  They presented “The Christopher Urswick Story”: sharing with a packed church the long history of our school, and its impact on Hackney today.  As they read, Urswick students walked amongst the congregation and handed out “reverse birthday-cards”: greetings from us to the people of London, as we share some of the joys of our birthday.  The trio at the lecterns spoke beautifully, and represented the school in style.  No-one present to hear our story could doubt the effect Urswick’s legacy has had on generations of scholars dating back to 1520, and the reign of King Henry VIII.
The choirmaster for the day – Tom Daggett, himself a friend to The Urswick School as our organ tutor – then led the whole church in greeting each other with a friendly chorus of “Believe and Achieve”, as we reflected on the school’s timeless conviction that every member of our community has, with faith, the potential to excel.  The choir for the day comprised over 150 students from the various schools in attendance, including 12 members of the Urswick Choir.  They sang two anthems to encourage people to “Live in the Light”.
The service featured a blessing from +Sarah Mullally, Bishop of London, who herself congratulated us on an historic milestone, and thanked us all – and, indeed, Christopher Urswick – for continuing our work in faith and trust for the young people of Hackney.
This service was just the first of our celebrations of 500 years: Watch this space!  

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