It has been a week full of joyous events at Lowther Hall as we come to the end of the 2021 school year. I was delighted to see record attendance and participation at the Senior School Swimming Sports on Monday as the girls relished the opportunity to be back in the pool. Monday was also the day to announce the Year 6 2022 leadership positions to the Year 5 cohort and the excitement in the room was palpable as the girls considered the possibilities for their roles next year. I witnessed extraordinary leadership in action on Tuesday as our 2022 Faith and Worship Prefect and Social Justice Prefect facilitated more than 30 captains to run a whole day of activities for every girl in Kindergarten to Year 12! The theme of the day was “Reconnecting” and the girls did a wonderful job of crafting meaningful workshops suitable for the various ages of the girls in different parts of the School. The day culminated in a whole school, livestreamed Chapel Service at which the toys collected for donation to Anglicare were collected before being sent off to this important charitable foundation.

In Blinkbonnie House my highlight this week has been seeing the girls take delivery of their special packages from the North Pole. Their letters from Santa’s elves arrived in ice and they had great fun breaking them free and reading the messages! Also on a Christmas theme, the Blinkbonnie House Christmas Service saw the Year 1 girls provide a clear and meaningful rendition of the nativity story and the whole school enjoyed viewing a special digital version of our Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols, which has now been released to the wider school community. I hope that you have had time to view this beautiful event. For those who were prepared to brave the rain, Carols at the Mansion provided a (somewhat soggy) festive gathering and it was an absolute privilege to be finally able to have a community event that brought together girls, parents, staff and friends of the School in a joyous celebration of Christmas.

Finally, today I have been proud to spend the day with the girls in various end of term ceremonies where we have been able to recognise the contributions made by the students, celebrate the year and present some awards and certificates. These ceremonies have also provided the opportunity for girls to thank their teachers and farewell staff who are not returning. This year of, course, there are mixed emotions in Blinkbonnie House as we farewell Mrs Lisa Ashen. We share joy for her that she will have the chance to spend more time with her family and doing things she loves, but we feel sad for ourselves that she will no longer be a daily presence in our school, leading our Blinkbonnie community with the passion and dedication that we have come to know are her defining qualities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs Ashen on behalf of the whole school community, for all she has contributed since beginning with us in 2008. She has made a fine contribution to the way Lowther Hall educates our girls and she leaves a legacy of processes, curriculum and care that will last for many years to come. It has been a privilege to lead alongside her as part of the Executive Team and she will certainly be greatly missed.

As the year ends, I feel again this year, incredibly grateful for our community. I have a profound appreciation for my colleagues who have done all that they possibly could have to ensure our girls and families had the best possible experience across both face to face and remote learning. I am proud of the girls for their resilience and optimism and I feel incredibly lucky to have been supported by our families as we have banded together to navigate the challenges that have been ongoing and ever changing! Thank you for all you have done to make Lowther Hall such a positive place in 2021. Although it was not the year we had hoped for, it is another year that has truly shown the heart and spirit of our school. Have a blessed Christmas and a restful break.

Ms Elisabeth Rhodes