Parents, friends, honoured guests, and especially children
I calculated that since I took up the position of Headmaster I have probably presided over about 800 assemblies. So when John Colet School assembles each Monday morning to say its prayers, sing a hymn, and the national anthem, and to hear the Head Boy and Girl read wonderful words from the broad treasury of human wisdom, I find myself in my natural habitat, speaking what comes naturally in the moment.
But this time things are a little different. For about 799 assemblies I have stood here and directed the show. Today I sat over there with Mrs Mane and we have watched the children sing and recite and speak, and all in my honour.
Well, I can tell you from the depths of my heart, that I am truly honoured by your kindness today. And I am deeply grateful.
But even more than this, I am honoured to have had the privilege to stand here on this spot in front of you, and going back through the years to have stood in front of all those equally wonderful children who sat where you sit now. I am honoured to have been here with your teachers, and sometimes your parents. To look out on a sea of young faces singing together, praying together, and laughing together at wonderful stories from around the world.
And today I have one last story for you: The Lord Shri Krishna grew up in the village of Vrindavan. And the people of Vrindavan worshipped Indra the God of Rain and Thunder and Lightning. But Krishna said to the villagers that they should worship the nearby Mount Govadharna instead. After all, he said, the mountain gave them healing herbs, shady trees grew on the mountainside where their cattle could graze, and cooling streams ran down from the mountain to the village.
The villagers agreed. But Indra grew angry. So he sent a fierce storm with thunder and lightning and buckets of rain to punish the village and wash it away.
As the rain began to fall, Krishna laughed and told the villagers that together they would teach Indra a lesson. He instructed them to fetch long poles and to follow him to Mount Govadharna. They splashed through the rain, and when they got to the mountain the Lord Shri Krishna picked it up with one hand, and balanced it on his little finger.
The villagers were amazed, and they rushed under the mountain out of the rain. They raised their poles and helped Krishna to hold up the mountain. Indra was amazed too, and was humbled, realising that Krishna was indeed the Lord of all.
I feel like I am just one of those villagers standing together, under the School. Standing with all of you all the children, all the staff, all the parents and everyone else who has lent a hand. And I feel that John Colet School that wonderful institution of learning, has given all of us shelter.
I am and will always be truly grateful for everything the School, and all of you have given me. Thank you.