Skip to content ↓

Head Girl Lily Latimer Smith’s Prize Day address

Read last year’s Head Girl Lily Latimer Smith’s Prize Day address

“Representative Lord Mayor, Governors, headmaster, esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen, fellow students. Today I’d like to finish off my Freemen’s career with a brief reflection on what this school means to me. I say brief, because one thing that 10 previous prize days has taught me, is that the best speeches are also the short ones.

I can remember my first day here, in 2005, when I arrived here half an hour late and I remember crying about it and being terrified. I had just joined from my local primary school, and one of the main things I remember was just how huge and scary this school seemed. But very quickly, Ashtead Park became my second home and life without it soon became unimaginable.

First, I’d like to thank the junior school team for giving us the best start to our lives at Freemen’s. The support and care that they provide on a daily basis, alongside excellent tuition, meant that all of us soon settled into Free's life and made amazing memories, and friendships that are still strong today. I’d also like to thank the Sport’s Department, because they gave us the chance to build fundamental skills, such as teamwork and communication, which every one of us has depended on beyond the hockey and rugby pitches. For many of us, getting involved with sport at such an early age has lead to over a decade of representing the school in various disciplines and inspired some of us to pursue competitive sports to the highest levels.

From the results achieved by pupils at this school every year, you are all aware of the outstanding teaching body that this school offers. I therefore don’t wish to dwell on thanking each department individually, but I’d like to thank every member of staff, on behalf of all the students, for your impeccable teaching. But more than that, I want to thank the teachers for caring for us, as individuals. When we reached public examination age, in Upper 5, we faced new obstacles and without their continuing support, it would have been a much more unpleasant experience. Instead, we were treated as young adults, learning to deal with incredibly stressful situations. This allowed us all to learn the ability to cope with pressure, which is a huge and inescapable part of growing up, and the care offered by Freemen’s staff helped us not only to achieve fantastic results, but also to have a seriously good time throughout our last few years here. The final few years here seem to be the most important for many reasons, mainly because they’ve turned us into the next generation of adults. It is an exciting prospect to look around this room, and consider where my peers will be in 10, 15 or 20 years’ time. We could have among us the next Prime Minister, the next Andrew Garfield or the person who cures cancer.

Society today faces many pressures, from political turmoil to antibiotic resistance, and I believe that having such an amazing start in life courtesy of Freemen’s will enable us to do our bit, and give something back.

And finally, I’d now like to thank my peers. Friendships are a huge part of your school life, and I encourage you to make the effort to stay in touch. Friends help make the tough times bearable, and the good times memorable and I don’t know what I’d do if leaving Freemen’s meant saying goodbye to you all.”

I would be lying if I said my Upper Sixth year has been completely great. The pressures of A2s and university seem to mount and it can feel unbearable at times, but I would lie to remind the new Upper Sixth that these feelings are only temporary, and all of you will be going through the same things together. Before you know it, you will be sitting here next year, ready for summer and then moving onto new things. My main advice to all of the students is to enjoy everything you do and appreciate every day that you spend here.

I’d like to end with this quotation, because I think it’s an incredibly important message, which becomes much more vital as you get older and time feels as though it’s speeding up. The source may seem questionable, and for those who don’t recognise it, I’ve extracted it from my favourite file – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop every once in a while and take a look around, you could miss it.”

Thank you so much for listening, and I hope this isn’t the last you hear from the class of 2016!