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GRYPHON Autumn/Winter 2018/19

Prize Day

Principal's Speech

The 2017/2018 academic year proved to be considerably calmer and more straightforward than the previous one, culminating on a high with a team of 40 pupils traveling to Uganda under the care of Mr Myles Christy, Mrs Catherine Henry, Mr Paul O’Reilly and Mrs Rosemary Shaw, to continue the building project that BGS started three years ago. On the previous visit the teams contributed to the building of a much needed primary school in Gulu. This time round they extended the building to include a kitchen, which is very fittingly being named after Mrs Claire Greenway who sadly passed away in November 2016. She had been a huge supporter of Abanna and contributed significantly to their charity work in her time at the school. Her parents had provided a substantial donation to support the building project in the summer. Our pupils split their time between street work in Kampala and the building project at Gulu. In Kampala they supported the work of the New Life Orphanage, painting and planting hedges. Whilst incredibly challenging the boys embraced their work with the street children, with their stark living conditions on the streets of Kampala a humbling reminder of the many blessings and comforts we have in the western world.

BGS staff and pupils pose outside the school building at Coo-Rom.

Given the ebb and flow of a school there have been staff changes. On the teaching side, we have one who has joined and one who has left. Due to continued growth within the subject, Chris Hart has joined the Home Economics Department having gained many years’ experience at Movilla High School where as well as teaching Home Economics and Science, he also held the position of Head of Key Stage 3. Phil Cartmill (and coach of the 1XV) has left the PE Department having been appointed to a Head of Department post at Larne Grammar School.

Amongst our non teaching staff we have one who is moving on to pastures new and three people who have retired. Jason Morgan who has been in charge of our rugby programme over the past number of years has been appointed to the post of Director of Rugby at RBAI. He has been instrumental in improving the quality of rugby provision and play in the school. I have no doubt he will rise to the challenge of working within an institution like Inst.

Sally Anderson who was a classroom assistant for the past decade, Pamela Carruthers, one of our catering team who has been with us for 20 years and the much loved and ‘unofficial boss’, Mr Matt McClements who has given Bangor Grammar School 33 years of unstinting service. He was a firm favourite within the Bangor Grammar Community and we wish him a long and happy retirement – it is most definitely well deserved.

L-R: E Huddleson, M McClements, P Carruthers, P Cartmill, S Anderson, P Blair

In terms of academic progress, examination results continue to reflect the upward trend that the school has been experiencing in the past number of years, with outstanding performances at A level from Adam Bell, Angus Bell, Matthew Boggs, Tony Conn, Jack Davison, Callum Devlin, Paul Magennis, Johnny Mason, Alen Matthew, Morgan McCartney, Adam McConnell, Matthew Quinn, Carl Rodgers, Mark Romein, Jamie Stewart and Matthew Torrens.

Our GCSE results were the best ever with outstanding performances from Riley Westwood, Aqueel Mohammed, Michael Reid, Toby Walker, Jerome Guibao, Joshua Hardy, Conor Lusty, Harry McDonough, Ethan Cheung, Patrick McLarnon, Adam Simmonite, Lewis Bennett, Adam Crothers, Finn Moore, James Mahood and Jack McFall.

L-R: P Blair, E Huddleson, Aqueel Mohammed, Conor Lusty, D Milliken

Whilst I have just named the highest performers, we are very proud of the academic achievements of all of our pupils. Success simply does not happen – it is a partnership between pupil, parent and teacher. Thank you parents for your ongoing support of your son and in particular the School. More importantly though sincere thanks to the teaching staff and classroom assistants. Without your skill, level of commitment and inspiration our boys would not and could not perform in the way that they do.

L-R: P Blair, E Huddleson, Thomas Noble, Shay Ritchie, Ethan Rester, D Millikan

The 2017/18 academic year was one in which fresh life was breathed into the house system through the talents of the Heads of House and their deputies. The highly competitive house activities and the build up to each was played out via assemblies and Twitter – the latter being a social media platform very much in use throughout the school. All credit goes to this year’s team – Matthew Boggs and Sam Urey (Ward house), Daniel Young and Matthew Mingout (School House), Zach Kerr and Daniel McCreanor (Dufferin House), Matthew Quinn and Zach McKee (Crosby House).

As ever, many of our pupils have experienced success at an extra-curricular level. The absolute highlight of the year for me was seeing our 1XI Football team make BGS sporting history by progressing to the final of the BDASFA Cup Final. This team comprising of the Head Boy (Jamie Stewart) and ably captained by Matthew Torrens sadly lost in the final to St Malachy’s, Belfast in what proved to be a very enjoyable, skilful and fast paced match to watch. The final, believe it or not, was yet another ‘first’ for me in which I attended my first football match – an experience I hope I get to repeat. No pressure Mr Nesbitt – but I really would like a win, or at the very least another final!

Ironically, our most talented footballer player in the school, Lewis McKinnon wasn’t old enough to play on the 1XI Football Team. He has been signed by Rangers Football Club and has also been playing for the Club NI Team this year.

L-R: P Blair, E Huddleson, Lewis McKinnon, D Millikan

The winter season saw relatively good success for many of our other teams. The highlights include the 1X1 hockey team played exceptional hockey against Sullivan in the Burney Cup but, sadly, were beaten by 2-1. They did though win the subsidiary Plate competition. The 1XV reached the quarter finals of the Schools’ Cup losing to the powerhouse that is Methodist College, Belfast and the Medallion XV won the Bowl Competition beating Limavady Grammar in the final.

The Badminton teams performed very well. Badminton is the most consistently successful sport in the school, ably supported by Mr David Hinds and Mr Stephen Waddell, a past teacher of the school. Ben Dempster reached the Quarter Finals of the Leinster Senior Open, the Quarter Finals of the Ulster Grade A and the Semi Finals of the Grade D National Championships. His current ranking is 23rd in the Irish Senior listing (adults).

The Minor Badminton team of Nathan Belshaw, Ross Fulton, Rory Patterson and Ethan Mairs won the Division A Minor Boys’ League at the Ulster Finals against Friends’ School. This is a tremendous achievement and the team went on to represent Ulster at the Irish Finals in Co Meath. Disappointingly for them the Senior teams lost both the league and cup finals to Friends’ School who always end up being our nearest competitors.

Tennis remains very strong within the school with BGS being the Ulster Junior and Senior champions this year. The successful senior players were Harry Ellsemere, John Ewing, Ryan Lyall and Harry Templeton, with the junior players being Jamie Lyall, Nathan Belshaw, James Skelton and Max Skelton. I had the privilege of getting to watch some of the play at the ulster senior championships against Royal Belfast Academical Institution.

Our CCF continue to be the most successful and largest in Northern Ireland and one of the best in the UK. Under the leadership of Cath Caldwell and Taff Watkins, Kent Sampson, Matthew Mingout, Billy Pollock, Shoshanna Hull (GCS), Mate Zoltan and Ross O’Boyle won the Military Skills Competition. There was much celebration when the huge shield was presented at a whole school assembly. In May, 17 CCF athletes competed in the RAF 100 Cadet Forces Athletics Competition against 20 other cadet units. The team won 12 golds, 8 silvers & 6 bronze medals. They also won Best Unit, the under 17 year boys trophy and the Best Overall Unit trophy. This level of success was replicated at the 38 Brigade Orienteering Competition. The CCF continues to be one of the best elements of our extra-curricular offer, where the pupils can develop a significant number of relevant skills for not only the work place but for life.

Jacq Watton is our current RSM (the highest rank in the CCF) and last year he was selected out of the hundreds of cadets in Northern Ireland to attend the Master Cadet course. This is an elite course (previously only open to the ACF or Army Cadet Force). This year the CCF was invited to send candidates. 38 Irish Brigade deemed Jacq to be the only cadet in NI to be at a standard to attend this course. The course itself develops leadership skills through tactical training in line with courses run by the regular British Army.

RSM Jacq Watton

Individual pupils continue to excel across a variety of disciplines both inside and outside of the BGS offer. We have pupils currently representing Ulster and/or Ireland in Hockey (namely Harry Dow, Stephen Hamill and Jamie Lyall), in Rugby (Zack Kerr, Aaron Sexton, Riley Westwood, Ben McCrossan and Gareth Wells), in Chess (Adam Rushe and Samuel Todd), in Badminton (Ben Dempster), in Tennis (Harry Ellsemere), in Water Polo (Ben Escott), in Swimming (Mark Stoops, Jack Angus), in Rowing (Ryan Atwell) and in Archery (Ryan Leathem), with Ulster and/or Irish champions in Athletics (Aaron Sexton), Golf (Jude Devlin) , Tennis (Harry Ellsemere), Table Tennis (Max and James Skelton) and Sailing (Dan McGaughey).

One of our pupils deserves special mention given his achievements in the past year. Aaron Sexton, just shy of his 17th birthday, became the junior commonwealth champion for 200 metres in a winning time of 21.57 seconds. He is also currently the fastest boy in Ireland across both 100 and 200 metres. Given his athletic talent it has to be said he is also incredibly useful on the rugby pitch and I was delighted to receive news during the summer break that having been involved with the Ulster Development Squad he had been called up to play for the Ulster team in their preseason game against Gloucester in August, being the youngest player ever (having just turned 18) on the Ulster squad.

As with the academics side of the school, all of this extra-curricular success, whether through a team or individual, simply doesn’t just happen! Thank you to all the endless hours given by many of the teaching and non-teaching staff give to their chosen areas outside of the curriculum.

We continue to focus on high quality teaching and learning through a child-centred curriculum. One creative area of development this year has centred around the transition from P7 to year 8 to better support our youngest boys as they adjust to new learning environments. In the summer term we used a ‘teacher swap’ to allow P7 teachers to take the lead in the year 8 classroom and vice versa. The staff from Ballyholme Primary and Bangor Grammar thoroughly enjoyed being in different work placements over a number of days and learnt a significant amount about how their practices could be adjusted to make the transition regarding learning easier for the pupils. We hope to offer this project to our other feeder primary schools who have shown interest.

Primary 7 pupils getting a taste of BGS active learning in Geography.

The 17/18 year saw an unexpected but interesting and creative development in our school. A rather random phone call from Lady Dufferin of Clandeboye Estate requesting a meeting with me has resulted (albeit in its early stages) in the concept of ‘Learning without Walls’. She is very keen for her estate to be used for educational purposes and since our initial meeting in the Easter term we have had our whole Year 10 group completing a connected learning project at Clandeboye (organised to the nth degree by our very own Chris Turner) and have been working with Trinity College, Dublin, Queen’s University, Belfast, Clandeboye Primary and Kilcooley Primary to plan and execute a learning day for P7 and year 8, which happened in the first few days of this term – where pupils problem solved to build robust dens, used their surrounding environment to complete some creative writing all the while learning without the formality of a classroom.

We very much welcome and appreciate the input and support from all old Grammarians. The Grammarians Committee have done sterling work this year on behalf of the school culminating in the launch of the Sporting Wall of Fame. Part of the lower corridor in the school has photographs of all ex pupils who reached international status in their chosen sporting discipline. Mr Geoffrey Miller (also one of our governors) was instrumental in driving this initiative and thanks should go to him and David Kennedy for all their hard work in sourcing all photographs and organising the event. It is our intention to dedicate other areas of the school in a similar fashion to celebrate the successes of other old boys who have excelled within their chosen fields. We wish to continue to strengthen our alumni connections and actively market the school through this avenue. We want to keep in better touch with those who have left for a variety of reasons – to track career paths and leaver destinations, to continue to tap into professional knowledge about individual careers and to allow those who actively wish to support the school to do so. Development of our website is currently underway to allow for a dedicated alumni section.

Good relationships and partnerships continue across the schools in Bangor – through our commitment to the Entitlement Framework and Shared Education models. As recently as two weeks ago the senior prefects from each of the four post primary schools received leadership training from the army reserves and 204 Medical Corp on the Bangor Grammar site. The four Bangor principals have also committed to working more closely on a mental health strategy to better support the young people and their parents attending our schools in Bangor.

As ever, thank you to my post primary and primary principal colleagues for the continued and unstinting support. We are an eclectic mix of personalities, leaders and professionals but most importantly we have become a solid group of friends. I referenced last year that our roles as principals does not come with a guide book or an instruction manual. Nor, might I add does it come with the wisdom of Solomon or a crystal ball. You do the best you can, with the resources you have and with the interests of the children at the centre of every decision.

Working in education ‘on a good day’ continues to be a rewarding job but increasingly it is within a very difficult working environment. Tinkering by CCEA (albeit in an attempt to provide a more skills-based curriculum in line with the wants and needs of employers) has resulted in a disproportionate increase in teaching staff workload and at a time where schools (due to lack of adequate funding) are running with as few staff as is possible. Add to this the hoops we continue to have to jump through as schools in terms of accountability, where goal posts regularly are moved depending on the latest area under scrutiny and/or sadly which sector you are in. Flat-line budgets, with rising resource costs, mean schools have ‘in real terms’ less money. This, I have to say, makes voluntary parental contributions invaluable. Thank you again, parents, for supporting us in this way.

Area planning developments are being mooted as providing part of the solution to some of the current issues in education; in reality, if not handled correctly and within a realistic time frame it will bring with it even more problems, friction and lack of equality. Area Planning is an area where worryingly there is a lack of cohesion, clarity and reality between the Department of Education and the Education Authority with the latter very close to a vote of no confidence from schools and principals.

We are all hoping that Karen Brady’s recent announcement to give permanent secretaries more decision making power will allow Derek Baker (our Permanent Secretary) in Education to start putting forward some practical solutions to some of the current issues. Given that 12 million has been spent paying MLAs who have not been working at Stormont; like us, he will need to be creative with the budget he is given.

In closing, this is probably one of the most testing periods in many decades to be a school principal. I am grateful for the very good people I work with in this building and I remain focused on my duty to look after and provide for the next generation of employees and contributors to society. I would like to thank the governors at Bangor Grammar School for the many hours of your own time that you dedicate to us. Your wisdom, challenge, guidance and unfailing support is truly invaluable and benefits all of us who are part of Bangor Grammar School.

E Huddleson, Principal

Chairman's Speech

Honoured guests, principal and staff, parents, family and friends - and most importantly the boys of Bangor Grammar School - it is my pleasure as Chairman of the Board of Governors to welcome you all to our Senior Prize Distribution today .

When I was sitting down during the week to put a few thoughts together for this afternoon my wife asked me what I was doing? When I told her I was writing my speech she said, “that shouldn’t take you too long as you’re not supposed to say very much!” As always she is quite correct - however, I do have to say a few words of welcome and also thanks.

A special word of welcome to our Guest of Honour Mr Dick Milliken. I first met Dick in 1968 in Bangor Grammar School when I started as a first former. In those days Dick was a god-like figure on the first XV that went on to win the Schools Cup. Later, in my final year at the school, we both sustained bad ankle injuries on the exact same day. Although Dick’s injury turned out to be very serious and cut short his international career, he still took the time to write me a letter wishing me a speedy recovery. He has a long association with this school as a former pupil, parent and governor and we are delighted to have him and his wife Heather with us today.

A warm welcome also to our prize winners and their families and friends; you have every right to be proud of your achievements. Congratulations on your hard work and dedication throughout the school year .

Like many public sector institutions, schools now work under significant scrutiny and enormous financial pressures with budget allocations often coming late in the day. The enthusiasm, ingenuity and hard work required of the staff ( teaching and non-teaching) in this school under the leadership of our Principal should not be underestimated.

In these difficult financial times we are very grateful for the support of our Parent Teachers Association and also the Grammarians as they continue to fund different extracurricular activities within the school.

On a sadder note, the Principal and I attended a thanksgiving service yesterday for Tom Patton who died last weekend. Tom was headmaster of this school from 1979 until 1998 and oversaw significant developments on the school site. He was a frequent attender at Grammarian functions, particularly the London dinner.

When I looked around the congregation and recognised many of my teachers I thought how much this school, and indeed society, has changed since the 1970s. The current societal pressures placed on pupils, their parents, and indeed the teaching staff - combined with ever increasing levels of public scrutiny and expectation must seem unbearable at times.

During my time on the Board and more recently as Chairman I have come to realise how much important pastoral support is given so generously by the staff of this school . This important aspect of school life work is inevitably discrete ,often time consuming, is not measured in league tables and often goes unnoticed .

The governors of this school are therefore confident that this school not only strives for and achieves academic excellence, but also provides a safe and supportive environment in which every boy can feel safe and fulfil their true potential .

P Blair, Chairman Board of Governors

Year 13 Team-Building Day

On a very sunny Friday in late August, Yr 13 pupils embarked on a team building day at Lorne Outdoor Pursuits Centre, as they celebrated their very successful GCSE results and began to think about the challenges of sixth form. As pupils enter sixth form they join a new form class, established through the school House system. It is therefore imperative that strong friendships develop quickly.

During the day pupils had the opportunity to work in teams and participate in a wide range of activities. They included archery, bushcraft and abseiling, to name just a few. The activities allowed the pupils to improve working relationships, build trust and confidence within each other and develop leadership skills, as well as everyone simply having fun.

Overall the day was a great success and one we would hope to embed into the sixth form personal development curriculum.

L McDermott, Head of Year 13

Year 8 Ballykinler Trip

On 26th-28th September, our Year 8 spent two nights at Ballykinler Barracks, learning how to pack a kit, camp outdoors and work in teams to complete tasks. Most importantly, it gave the pupils an opportunity get to know fellow member of their year group. The boys enjoyed their time away and it was clear to see that the experience had made them more confident in their ability to face challenges head-on and work with others to problem-solve tasks which were often out of their comfort zone.

Combined Cadet Force

The Royal Irish Colours Parade 22nd September 2018

On Saturday the 22nd of September marked a historical day for our parent unit the Royal Irish Regiment not only were both battalions receiving new colours but this was the first occasion when a parade of this level was not carried out “behind the wire”. This only happens every 25 years the last one was in Palace Barracks which our SSI SSgt Watkins witnessed.

BGS CCF cadets were invited to attend to witness this magnificent military spectacle, so after a short train journey that morning Officers & cadets took their places on the stands. The colours were presented to the battalions by his Royal Highness Prince Andrew who is their Colonel in Chief. Eight companies from both battalions marched on to the sounds of the pipes and drums playing all the regimental marches and tunes. When it was all over they marched off to the Regimental quick march of Killaloe giving all attending the chance to join in with the “yo’s” which is a tradition to shout as the tune is played.

After the parade it suddenly dawned on many of the young cadets what they had witnessed and, that the next time it happens, they will be parents themselves and maybe their children will be cadets coming to see this parade. Thank you to the Regimental Secretary for his invite and to all those who took part.

“Faugh A Ballagh"

Over the weekend of the 12th-14th of October BGS CCF entered two teams into the Brigade CCF Military Skills competition.

Our winning team from last year had all left for university, except our new RSM Jacq Watton. Expectations were not high for the weekend, as Jacq’s chosen few were a young inexperienced team except for his 2i/c CSM Hinchcliffe.

Saturday was to be a round robin of eight gruelling stands, testing the cadets’ skills, willpower and morale. To top it off, the gods of warfare chose to throw into the mix a wall of rain that would have tested the mighty Spartans. By the end of day one, both teams were battered bruised and soaked, commanders self-analysed their performances and pondered how they were in the running for top team. Day one was not over yet, after scoff, the teams were back out again completing four timed pairs tasks designed to see how you would cope under pressure while fatigued. The cadets slept well that night as day two would test them again.

Sunday was two stands back to back a punishing mile & a half run in full kit, with a metal stretcher carry and a van pull in the middle of it, followed by a shoot. Many cadets did not eat a large breakfast that morning - those who risked it saw it again later, as team after team pushed themselves to the limit. After the march, the cadets had no time to rest before a one hundred metre sprint followed by 20 rounds at targets at 200 and 300 metres. Then it was all over time for tea and medals.

After going there with no expectations of winning anything, BGS CCF, as always, pulled themselves out of the mire of pain, cold and self-doubt and won team gold for the First Aid and Shooting, a bronze in the March and overall silver as runner up Best Team.

A massive well done to all sixteen cadets who battled through one of the toughest wettest competitions I have ever witnessed, a massive thank you to RSM Watton and CSM Hinchcliffe, CSgt Fusco and Cpl Mingout for the training and their command and leadership on the day.

CCF NATIONAL REGATTA

This was an amazing weekend, competing against new and old friends. On the Friday, we flew over to Southampton and got a bus to HMS Excellent in Portsmouth, the headquarters of the Royal Navy. We soon boarded HMS Bristol, the only type 82 Destroyer built which saw action in the Falklands in 1982. This magnificent ship was our accommodation for the weekend.

On Saturday, there was a gale blowing but that didn’t stop us or dampen our enthusiasm. We gave our best effort and, when the time came to go ashore, we felt like could do no more. We only sailed until lunch time as it was too windy. When we came to shore we all hid in one of the motor cruisers as we sipped hot chocolate, listening to the wind battering against the hull of the boat. On Sunday the sailing conditions were a lot better and warmer. Overall our team came 6th and 9th. This Regatta was an amazing experience from having to wake up at dawn to march to breakfast to sailing across the water of Porchester Lake.

I hope to have many more experiences as amazing as this.

Joshua Reddy, 1-Star CCF Naval Cadet

School Library

On Monday 24th September the BGS Library was delighted to welcome Gerard Siggins, author of the ‘Rugby Spirit’ series into school to speak to our Year 8 students.

Author Gerald Siggins takes time to sign copies of his novel, 'Rugby Spirit'.

In June of last year all of the incoming P7 students were gifted a copy of ‘Rugby Spirit’, the first book in the seven book series (which includes ‘Rugby Warrior’ and ‘Rugby Rebel’ as books two and three) by the PTA, which they were able to enjoy over the summer holidays.

Dubliner Gerard worked initially as a sports journalist and was able to give the BGS boys some insight into how characters from our rugby heritage influenced his writing, as well as some practical tips on how to improve their own writing abilities. “If you want to be a great writer, you need to read,” was one sage piece of advice he counselled—and one the BGS Library would like to reiterate!

Kids Lit Quiz

At Wellington College in November BGS took eight boys to the International ‘Kids’ Lit Quiz’ Competition, where the boys fought it out with 29 other schools to show off their knowledge of modern and classic literature; this year we had some excellent success!

Our ‘Team 1’ were amongst the first teams to ‘win a round’ and, along with Methody and Royal School Armagh, fought it out to win a free book in the sudden death question. Sadly, the MCB team were just too fast off the mark!

‘Team 2’ went from strength to strength; shortly after Team 1 they also won a round, followed by the sudden death question and managed to bag themselves a book of their choice each! They fought like champions, sitting comfortably in second place until all but the final round.

When the scores came in Team 2 finished in fourth place with 82 points—only a single point behind Sullivan Upper who finished third, and only two points behind Banbridge Academy who came second with 84. Team 1 lost a few too many marks in the later rounds, but still finished well, 15th out of 29 teams.

In first place and the competition winners were Enniskillen Royal Grammar, who received 87 out of a possible 110. Furthermore, it has just been announced, ERG have just won the 2018 National Final in London. BGS wish them all the very best for the World Final in Singapore in July—and we look forward to challenging them again next year!

CCEA Maths Week

On Monday 15th October, to mark the beginning of “Maths Week” in Ireland, CCEA held a Maths event to which a group of BGS pupils were invited.

I loved the whole event as it was very interactive and taught me how useful Maths truly was! Firstly, once everyone took their seats, we were enlightened on the agenda and numerous people with STEM related careers spoke to us about the countless paths you can take with mathematical skills. For example, I learned that everything engineered by mankind has needed mathematical skills to create, such as the laptop I am typing this review on!

After our break, we were tasked with building a rocket out of paper and masking tape to discover which design went the furthest (and why). My rocket won, as it flew like a dart across the hall, past my fellow year 10’s. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also enjoy the prize of a Galaxy chocolate bar since my rocket went the furthest! I was then allowed to go and try the VR headsets provided by KAINOS and they were amazing! It’s hard to believe that they were created by just utilising the STEM subjects and I would love to be a part of their manufacture in the future.

Hands-on experience with the virtual reality headsets.

Once we had lunch we came back in and were presented with the challenge to build the tallest free-standing structure made of Lego. Sadly, my group did not win but it taught me that it needs to have a low centre of gravity.

Finally, our last task was to create a machine which could draw a circle and had limited supplies of a polystyrene cup, two pens and a battery. In the end my group received a Galaxy chocolate bar because of our machine which could draw numerous circles!

Looking back, I really enjoyed the Maths day with CCEA and it has made me look at Maths in a different way now, knowing it’s used every day and how we couldn’t live without it! Thank you CCEA and KAINOS for coming to Bangor to allow us to gain this knowledge, and I especially will apply it throughout my future career.

Roan Taylor, Year 10

Uganda 2018

Many of us who live in the developed world have a rather bleak impression of Africa. As with any generalisation, that is not the whole truth.

After departing BGS on the afternoon of the 30th June team BGS (4 teachers and 33 boys) touched down in Kampala after a 20-hour journey.

After a few days of rest and some basic training, we (in team A) began our journey north to Gulu province. There was a notable difference between Kampala and the more northerly settlements. Less than 10 years ago the northern provinces of Uganda were engaged in a war between the Ugandan military and the fundamentalist group, The Lords Resistance Army. The LRA took over 66,000 child soldiers and 2 million Ugandans were forced out of their homes and into cities such as Gulu. The war in Uganda is long over, but only a few hundred miles from there, other bloody wars are still being fought in Sudan and the Congo.

On arriving at Coo-rom, the school that Bangor Grammar is sponsoring, we were happily greeted by the schoolchildren who treated us to a traditional African folk dance. To see primary school children dancing in lines, wielding drums and hatchets seems strange, but it was, at the time, a most pleasing performance. In an age where so much tradition is forgotten, it is unusual to see such a thing performed so beautifully. This was seen again on our community walk, when we visited the collections of huts where the children who attended the school lived.

All of these huts are made of clay and mud bricks, with roofs made of thatched straw. The men and women and many of the children spend most of their time maintaining their small farms, where they grow crops to feed themselves. They work so they may live. This is how their ancestors lived 50 years ago and 5000 years ago, and for many they shall live like this for many years more.

On returning to Gulu city and later, Kampala, I had a better understanding of what the Abaana organisation was doing. By building better educational facilities, these children had been given a better quality of education and a better chance of making it to a secondary school and later, university. Walking through the streets and markets we saw many smartly-dressed, professional Ugandans commuting to work. How many of them had been educated in a school like Coo-rom?

After a few days rest in Gulu, we embarked upon the second portion of our trip, when we would spend a week in Kampala, working with street children. These children suffer a precarious and unenviable existence. Starvation, injury, and abuse are never far away and the most basic needs of any human being, much less any unprotected child, are rarely close at hand. Abaana does it's best to give some protection and provision to these children. For a few mornings, for a few hours, these children could be in some ways 'normal', with the freedom to play games, to have a decent meal, and to sleep in the knowledge they were being watched over. A few hours later we would visit New Life Homes and saw what was possible for these boys. It must be stressed that NLH is not an orphanage, but a foster home, with the ultimate goal of trying to find somewhere for their occupants to live, usually with a familial relation that can support them. It is an unfortunate condition that Uganda's social care are vastly inadequate and only a few boys can be helped, but one that is slowly improving.

The reality of the Abaana organisation is that it can't fix everything. There are hundreds more communities where children don't have access to clean drinking water, much less an education, and thousands more children living unprotected on the streets. However, Abaana can make a difference to a number of individuals. This is because of the hard work of its organisers, and a willingness of its volunteers to broaden their perceptions of the world.

I will never forget the many faces of the children I met there and often think of them at unexpected moments. I would encourage you all to go on this trip if you get the opportunity. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and one that I will ever forget.

Jude Wilson, Year 13

Saphara Trip

Over the Halloween break Bangor Grammar School, Bangor Academy and Saint Columbanus sent a team of fifteen pupils to India, working with the charity Saphara. I was fortunate enough to be part of the team on behalf of Bangor Grammar School. The journey for our students began during September 2017 and involved rigorous fundraising, classroom training and preparation for the inevitable culture shock. The journey culminated with a ten-day trip to India where our students were expected to deliver lessons in Kaplani High School and Sneha Doon Academy.

I would like to thank our school community for your support as our three schools raised a remarkable twenty-five thousand pounds. That money is already being used to educate less fortunate children in India. Harry Ellesmere, Lewis Joyce, Charles Mackinnon, Charlie Rydzewski and Gareth Wells all rose to the challenge and served as excellent ambassadors. No superlative could possibly summarise their work ethic and enthusiasm. Throughout our Indian journey I was blown away by their adaptability, maturity and ability to reflect. Their final reflections reaffirm my praise and demonstrate the value of the experience.

C Moreland, Teacher in Charge

My trip to India with Saphara has changed my perspective on life. I was sceptical but excited about the trip, not knowing what I was going to experience or witness, but it was emotional, and worth every penny of my fund–raising, and every ounce of effort I exuded on the trip. The first few days were a chance to get to get to know each other a lot better, and to immerse ourselves in the Indian culture. I’m surprised how close I have become to so many people in such a small period of time, and I would hope and think we would stay friends for life. I think we were all taken aback by the culture – the busy streets, the animals on the side of the road, and the constant busy traffic. The teaching was really when the worthwhile and life-changing work started. The children were so happy to be in school, which was infectious for us as teachers. Some kids had to walk two hours up a nearby mountain to get to school, which was an inspiration in itself. Although the lesson planning was draining and took much effort, it was all worthwhile when the kids were able to complete the work, enhancing their English, and gaining confidence in the process. Even if I’ve helped one child on this trip, it has been an overwhelming success. I would recommend this experience to anyone if you want to experience a different culture, have a good laugh, and change lives.

Harry Ellesmere, Year 14

The most significant feature of this trip was the opportunity to experience where my fundraising was really going. Through this, not only have I been able to establish a greater relationship with the Saphara charity but also with the amazing pupils selected. I’ve gained a far greater understanding of the materially–deprived families within India. Although this was a small sample, it certainly put my daily lack of appreciation into perspective. Many people informed me prior that this trip would be a once in a lifetime experience, which it definitely turned out to be. I feel far more informed about politics and culture in India. For me this trip has was an invaluable experience.

Charles F Mackinnon

India is a truly addictive country. The chaos and the excitement of India is palpable every second of every day. This place ceases to be a country but is a living thing; everything feels alive. The city streets are like a beating heart filled with energy. Nothing can prepare you for this place, there is nowhere like it anywhere on earth, no story can capture the busyness of Delhi or the beauty and majesty of Mussoorie. Teaching the students of Kaplani and Sneha schools has been the most rewarding experience of my life to date and a memory that will last a lifetime. I can confidently say that some of the happiest and most challenging moments of my life have happened on this trip. The joy I felt teaching students at Kaplani is indescribable; so too is the sadness I felt leaving that place. I have laughed and cried in the space of an hour and I am a better person for it. I owe so much to the children I worked with – they were as much teachers as me – and if I could show half the resilience, determination and passion they did I would be happy. I am forever grateful to them for what they have taught me. This trip has completely changed my outlook on every aspect of my life and I hope I can carry the values I’ve seen here for the rest of my life and pass on what I’ve learnt to others.

Lewis Joyce, Year 14

The list of attributes I have learnt from the beauty of the Indian culture is countless. From appreciating everything I have, to realising the tiny patterns and arts of India which make it all one sophisticated art piece that words cannot describe. One thing I’ll take away from India for the rest of my life is the passion the teachers have for teaching at SNEHA Doon Academy and that one day I will hopefully have the same charisma and passion as them. They are the true idols and heroes of India. Walking through the pristine corridors of Sneha, there’s a saying I will cherish from the girls’ empowerment program at the school, helping young girls reach their full potential; ‘Educate a man, then you’ve educated an individual. Educate a woman then you’ve educated a family.’ A truly life changing experience. Thank you Saphara for this opportunity, I’ll treasure it forever.

Charlie Rydzewski

For me, my trip to India began when Joanne presented the idea of Saphara to my entire year group just over a year ago. From there, the daunting interview and many breaktime and lunchtime meetings, as well as the efforts made by my family in fundraising, finally resulted in me standing in darkness of Springhill car park at 3:30am. From that point on, I embarked on a trip with people who I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with, as they allowed me to believe in myself and my ability. However, whilst the amazing Himalayan views and jaw dropping Taj Mahal may have been amazing, it was the teaching that I enjoyed most. Whether it be the two boys who walk two hours a day to get to Kaplani or the children in Sneha who live in some of the most challenging living conditions. The sheer passion and will to learn has inspired me, and I feel I will return home with a revived drive to achieve my potential, as I feel I have learned the true power of education. For this opportunity, I am immensely thankful to Saphara. Charlie Chaplin once said, “You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Let us use this power, let us all unite.” I feel that this is the pure embodiment of my time in India. In terms of tangible commodities, the children we taught have little, however, they greatly make up for it in the attitude they bring to life and the rich characters they possess.

Gareth Wells, Year 14

Back: Harry Ellesmere, Gareth Wells, Lewis Joyce. Front: Charles Mackinnon, Mr C Moreland, Charlie Rydzewski

Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award

Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award

Four days of exhaustion, harsh weather and borderline unsafe meals commenced in a small remote town in the Scottish countryside. From discussion with the previous Gold groups we had gathered the opinion that this expedition did not compare in the slightest to the trauma and sheer exhaustion we had previously experienced on our practice expedition in the English Lake District.

With this optimistic mindset, we set off at 7am with our loaded rucksacks and ‘permanent’ smiles on the first planned day of hiking. Previously, we had organised all of our meals and routes on laminated pieces of paper and distributed responsibilities within the group for certain items and leadership roles. I had the privilege of organising a variety of deluxe meals and snacks for my group as a high calorie intake was essential to ensure energy levels were maintained at an optimum point. On reflection, the squirty cheese and Peperami pitta sandwiches weren’t as appetising as previously anticipated.

The weather for the first hike was fairly calm with intervals of light rain, however when it came to pitching our tents the cold night took its turn and it was a scramble to peg in the essential parts of our tent whilst simultaneously cooking our gourmet tinned chicken tikka masala served with a side of fluffy Uncle Ben's rice. Bliss.

After a good night of rest we began Day 2 and set off through the valleys of the Cairngorms on a 22 kilometre trek. As the day went along and the terrain got gradually harder to walk on as we ventured off path, members of our group started to develop painful blisters from the endless rubbing of flesh and boot. As a result we had to take more frequent, unplanned breaks which lost us time and meant we had to pick up our speed, however it was somewhat admirable that there was no negativity within this seemingly frustrating situation and team morale maintained at a consistent high. Afterfinishing another exhausting day we based ourselves beside a small forest stream which was well sheltered from the winds and rain which allowed us to pitch our tents and cook our meals in a far less frantic fashion. May I add, the pasta Bolognese went down a treat.

Day 3 was a killer. The longest day with the biggest climbs with the worst weather. Morale at this stage was at a rock bottom. Frequently asked rhetorical questions were as follows, “Why did I actually do this?”, “Did I actually just pay for this misery?”, “Why am I not wearing any waterproofs?”. The day didn’t get any better when I discovered what was for lunch after such a tiring few hours. Squirty ham and cheese spread on tortillas. At that point I questioned my sanity when choosing the horrid paste from the super market shelves. This tubes brought nothing but upturned noses and dirty looks towards my direction but fortunately we had a few left over chocolate bars to ease the pain. The day lasted 9 hours and it was fair to say that it tested both our physical and mental resilience and if it wasn’t for the sense of teamwork and collaboration that our group demonstrated, I don’t think many of us would have completed that day. Thankfully, the weather settled for our final night in the wilderness and we were motivated by the prospect of near completion. Bed for 19:30 was welcomed with open arms.

Our final day. The chat had picked up significantly from this point 24 hours ago, mainly discussing the ‘all you can eat’ pizza restaurant and warm cosy hostel we would be experiencing that night. The weather itself was horrendous with constant rain and wind drenching us to the skin but by no means did we let this dampen the mood! We stopped in a bothy nearing the last 5 kilometres of our whole expedition to have our final lunch. Anne, our assessor, sat us down and congratulated us on passing our expedition followed by the distribution of a selection of chocolate bars. The boys with fixed smiles, thanked the assessor and we talked for another 25 minutes roughly before eagerly setting off to complete our last hike. At the end of a long stretch of country lane we saw a familiar face parked up beautifully beside a road. Removing any sense of exhaustion dwelling on our minds, we sprinted to the end of the path and heaved our bags into the boot. Welcomed by the (almost) angelic face of Mr Titterington, who handed us a bag filled with a cornucopia of crisps, cola and chocolates which brought a great deal of excitement to the team… mainly Ben.

To conclude, the experiences we endured throughout the four days of independent survival was definitely a challenge to say the least. The Scottish Cairngorms displayed outstanding beauty and it truly was a pleasure to complete our Duke of Edinburgh award in such a sublime environment. As a group we agreed that it was an extremely tough yet rewarding experience and in terms of the attainment of new transferable skills in teamwork and leadership. I was lucky enough to complete this award alongside my good friends and even from this I have bonded with others that I wouldn’t normally expect to get along with. So therefore, I would more than highly recommend the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to anybody wanting to push themselves physically and mentally in return for highly profitable individual and team working skills.

Ross Campbell, Year 14

Children in Need

The annual Children In Need fundraising took place on Friday 16th November and was the usual fun-filled day. The Year 14 took part in the annual Year 14 Fancy Dress Competition with costumes ranging from the Jamaican bobsleigh team, complete with sleigh, to giant giraffes and dinosaurs roaming the corridors, while the rest of the school wore Wacky Ties.

At break time the staff had a Pudsey tea party with lots of delicious homemade treats but the main fun took place at lunchtime. On the hockey pitch the boys had the chance to play Beat The Goalie against Mr Wilson, Mr Gilmour (Head of Year 9), Mr Moreland and Mr Hart with some great shots and saves taking place. In the Sports Hall Mr Holley challenged the boys to see how many hoops they could shoot with Junior and Senior prizes up for grabs. The Courtyard was the place to be to see Senior Prefects soaked by wet sponges thrown at them by the boys and the BBC popped in to film the activities which were shown on their special Sunday afternoon show. In total £1714 was raised for Pudsey which is an incredible amount and our thanks go to everyone who supported and contributed to this total.

House Quiz

The annual Junior and Senior House Quizzes took place in the Assembly Hall, organised and run by the Heads and Deputies of Houses. With an enthusiastic and vocal audience on both days, Josh Webster and Archie Arran posed the questions to our brave teams made up of pupils, House Prefects and a member of staff all hoping to get the first points of the year for their Houses. In the junior quiz Ward and Dufferin were fighting for first place until the last round, worth double points, which allowed School House to come from behind to claim victory and take the first 4 points.

A pensive Crosby House with their traditional mascots - a tub of red paint and two fire extinguishers.

The Senior Quiz was highly competitive, as expected. By the end of the third round, three houses were tied for first place - after the fourth round Ward and Dufferin edged ahead again. The final round was a three question double points round and, much to Dufferin’s disappointment, Ward took victory by one point.

A huge thank you to everyone that organised, supported and took part in these events!!

Remembrance Parade

On Sunday the 11th November, exactly 100 years since the guns fell silent in 1918, BGS CCF cadets and officers formed up with the veterans to pay their respects to those who had given so much for us. Over 80 cadets formed up that morning, but looking around at the faces in other youth groups, so many from both schools had joined their friends with the Scouts, St Johns Ambulance, GB and many other youth groups.

This year the focus was on the youth, and representatives from schools and youth organisations were invited to read at the Cenotaph, our RSM Jacq Watton was last to read, then he and Coxian Meharg laid wreaths on behave of the CCF.

Well done to all those who paraded that morning from both schools and to all those from other youth organisations who also stood to show their thanks to young men who gave up their lives our futures.

Drama

Theatre company ‘Terra Nova’ may be a familiar name to a number of readers, following the exciting run of William Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ which was staged in Belfast in 2016. Following this successful performance, Terra Nova Productions was lucky enough to secure European PEACE IV funding from Ards and North Down to produce a giant, intercultural version of ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream’ in the Borough in 2018 and 2019.

This year the company offered BGS students the exclusive opportunity to work with a professional facilitator for two in-school Drama workshops which would give them a flavour of some of the themes which would be explored by the participants of the DREAM project.

The BGS Drama Department was pleased to welcome Hannah Reilly to the school to deliver a full four-hours of thespian activities to selected Year 9-11 students.

A local graduate of Queens’ University Belfast, Hannah specialises in applied and physical theatre. Hannah took our pupils through a variety of exercises; beginning with games and individual improvisation tasks, before moving on to group tableaux work and performances. A ‘walking debate’ encouraged the students to consider some current and controversial topics such as social media and the importance of school, followed by group skits on ‘families in conflict’ which demonstrated to the boys the wide variety of ways this could be interpreted, and the different situations which families can find themselves in.

As always, the BGS boys enthusiastically and energetically tackled each challenge, demonstrating some excellent creativity and performance skills. Furthermore, in feedback the boys reflected on some of the topics they’d discussed, and some very perceptive and mature points helped to demonstrate just how well the Drama exercises had helped our pupils to consider some contemporary issues.

The BGS Drama Department would very much like to thank Hannah for offering our boys such a superb experience.

Senior Dramatic Society

The boys of Drama BGS marked the centenary anniversary of the armistice with three performances of Frank McGuinness’s well-known play ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme’. This play was originally commissioned to mark the 75th anniversary of the battle of the Somme and tells the story of eight men who sign up to the 36th Ulster Division at the start of the war and go on to fight at the Battle of the Somme in July, 1916. The play is a tribute to the courage and sacrifice of the men but also serves to question the nature of the war and looks at the complexity of identify in Northern Ireland.

As audiences arrived, they witnessed actors in British army uniforms of the time-period training in the stable yard; this was effective in establishing a link with the past and had huge impact on the audience as they entered the venue. Just prior to the performance, historian Philip Orr, author of ‘The Road to the Somme’ presented an informative talk on the local connections between Clandeboye Estate and Frank McGuinness' play. This context helped to introduce the themes of the play and added greatly to the significance of the event itself.

Philip Orr; author 'The Road to the Somme'.
Images of the 36th Ulster Division, training at CLandeboye

Two further productions took place at the Space Theatre SERC on the 30th November and 1st December.

This was also an opportunity to reflect upon the contribution that Bangor Grammar made to WW1. In 1914 there were just 76 boys at Bangor Grammar School. From 1856 to 1918, 357 boys and 12 girls had attended BGS, of these approximately 230 would have been eligible for service. In total 176 former pupils and one former Headmaster served in the First World War; 37 of whom made the supreme sacrifice.

Moving Image Arts

The BFI Academy is a course offered by Cinemagic that allows teenagers who are interested in any aspect of film to make their own short film and to work alongside industry professionals. This year, Joshua Gould and Martin Ozarek in Year 13 won places on this prestigious course and recently completed their experience with a screening of their finished film. Both boys

The BFI course starts off with people in groups of 4 or 5 coming together with an idea for a short film. These ideas are then pitched to short film director Patrick Maxwell. We then vote on which two we think are best. When the two films are decided upon, we then get the opportunity to choose which of the two productions we want to work on.

Throughout the months that followed, we attended masterclasses with industry professionals such as actress, Lucy Fallon (Coronation Street), director David Caffrey (Peaky Blinders, Luther) and director Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones and upcoming feature film 17 Bridges). These industry experts talked about their experience, offered advice and techniques they use on a daily basis for their jobs.

The short film was filmed over two days, primarily on location in an old St John’s Ambulance garage in Belfast, which had been sourced by one of the other film-makers. We then hired two industry actors to play the parts for our film. Cinemagic provided us with hired, industry equipment to film with as well. It was very exciting to get hands-on with the equipment and the resulting footage looked really good. We filmed on location for two days, then two of the candidates edited the footage to five it that final cinematic look.

The last day was a public screening in the Crescent Arts Centre. Our films were screened on the big screen in front of our family and other industry experts such as Michael Lennox, director of Derry Girls. The next stage for our films is that Cinemagic is going to submit them to film festivals across the UK. This course is really useful as it opens up a lot of opportunities and is seen as a prestigious course and a lot of films that come to Northern Ireland look for and hire people who have done this course.

Joshua Gould, Year 13

I applied for the Cinemagic Film Academy to further my skills in the film industry. I hoped to meet new people and expand my knowledge of the film industry. One thing that I aimed to attempt during this course was to broaden my area of expertise. I did this to further my knowledge of other departments in the film industry.

This also allowed me to meet people I wouldn’t usually meet if I was following my usual course in film-making. I deviated from editing & cinematography to the art department & technical set operations. This allowed my to gain experiences with storyboarding as well as working with the set dressers and other people in the art department. Something I would not have usually done.

During the pre-production stage I worked heavily with the director and head cinematographer to create a simple yet functional storyboard. This storyboard was used heavily during the production (filming) stage of the film to show the cinematographers & camera operators how to take each shot.

During the pre-production stage, I worked with the director to shape the idea into a more plausible metaphorical storyline. This interesting storyline developed to a point where the audience begin to question whether almost everything could have occurred in the protagonist's head.

I decided to work with the departments that I usually enjoy. I helped with the editing in the post-production stage of the film as well as technical camera work. For example, I helped the director & camera operators with the setup of the camera for each shot, as well as transferring and backing up all of the footage after each day of shooting.

I am grateful to Cinemagic for giving me this opportunity and I would wholeheartedly recommend applying to be part of this course if you are interested in film-making.

Martin Ozarek, Year 13

Another old boy of the school and former participant in the Cinemagic academy, Luke Alexander, recently won the award for Best Editing in the Culver City Film Festival in Los Angeles in November. Luke was kind enough to share his experiences since leaving BGS with the Gryphon.

Since I was little I had a passion for filmmaking and took every opportunity to grab the family camcorder from my dad to make short films with my friends and, when they were absent, using action figures and plasticine models. Whilst Moving Image Arts was not offered yet as a subject to study when I attended Bangor Grammar, I was fortunate to have some very supportive teachers in the BGS Art & Design department who allowed me to create moving image final pieces for my Art projects; providing I demonstrated my understanding of the intended subject matter through charcoal sketches and mood boards.

The final ‘live action’ project I produced while at BGS was a short video created for the Sixth Form end of year formal, held before we disappeared off to revise for our impending exams. The video featured the Class of 2012 (plus numerous members of willing staff) enthusiastically hamming it up in true BGS fashion to classic and contemporary music tracks. (The video is still available online on YouTube for those curious to see alumni throwing themselves wholeheartedly into the BGS experience in the old College Avenue building - see below.)

In my last year at Bangor Grammar I was involved with the Cinemagic organisation, a local charity that encourages and nurtures young people who have an interest in filmmaking. I attended numerous master classes, workshops and film camps, learning lots about the industry while meeting other like-minded young people. I also attended Cinemagic’s International Film Camp in Los Angeles and spent a week visiting film studios and meeting famous faces such as Hans Zimmer (composer of the soundtrack to numerous Hollywood block-busters) and Cinemagic patron Pierce Brosnan.

Following my education at BGS, and guided by some good careers advice I received there, I moved to the University of York to study a BSc in Film and Television Production. Once again I was taught by talented and enthusiastic mentors who encouraged and helped me to refine my film-making technique and process through hands-on practical lessons, theoretical learning and the study of the history of film and television.

After graduating in 2015 I returned home to Northern Ireland and began the difficult task of securing work: a task found daunting by many after the security of structured learning. I worked on several short films and as a camera assistant on the live broadcast from Belfast of BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year. On this and other projects I was able to tap into the excellent practical training I had received in the superb studio facilities at university. I also found work with a local production company as a camera assistant on their crew, filming behind the scenes on HBO’s Game of Thrones’ Season 6 in various local locations.

With a bit of experience built up I was now able to join the full-time crew on Season 7 of Game of Thrones as a Northern Ireland Screen trainee in the Grip Department. As the grip department is responsible for everything that the camera is attached to including, but not limited to, track and dolly, cranes, jibs and gimbals, there was never a dull moment and my days were full of relentless activity. Whilst the schedule was difficult and the hours were long, I nonetheless valued every moment of my experience working alongside top-tier industry professionals, despite the challenges it posed. During Season 7, I was on the crew that filmed in numerous locations across Northern Ireland (I’ve now visited all of the bleakest corners of the province) and also travelled to Spain for nine weeks on location, shooting the scenes to depict the more arid climes of the fictional Westeros region. To call these experiences an adventure would be an understatement.

With GOT Season 7 completed, I worked on Season 2 of ITV/Netflix’s The Frankenstein Chronicles, which was filmed in Belfast and featured Sean Bean as Inspector Marlott. Filming this series meant I was not required to venture as far from home as had been the case on Game of Thrones and I was fortunate to work alongside several familiar faces from the crew of Thrones, both of which made the experience all the more enjoyable.

After this I was asked back as part of the crew to work on the 8th and final season of Game of Thrones. If I had thought my time as a trainee grip had been tough previously, I had to steel myself for the demands of the final season. Filming continuously for just over 10 months, the final season of Thrones proved to be just as challenging to the crew and myself as it was for the production’s fictional characters and the obstacles they had to overcome. This season included a gruelling period of 55 night shoots that required myself and the rest of the crew to become nocturnal for 11 weeks to film the ambitious ‘Long Night’ battle scene that broke records for the longest action scene in history. After weeks of mud, blood and freezing temperatures you would have been forgiven for mistaking crewmembers for the zombie extras shuffling about the set.

And then seemingly no sooner had it begun and Game of Thrones wrapped for the final time and my time on the HBO production was over. Whilst difficult and challenging at times, I feel privileged to have worked on the biggest TV show in the world alongside a brilliant cast and crew.

Since then I have been able to pursue my own projects and have had the time to complete my first short film since graduating. Calling on the experience I gained at uni and my time on Thrones I wrote, directed, produced and edited a short film called ‘Echoes in the Forest’. This was shot over the course of a week in Woodburn forest park and featured its own fair share of mud, blood, rain and smoke; perhaps my own way of dealing with life, post-Thrones. The lead role was played by fellow BGS old boy, James McMullan.

While this self-produced and self-funded short was intended as a personal test of my abilities and a new addition to my portfolio, I decided to enter it in several local and international film festivals. Much to my surprise, my short was selected and screened at the 2018 Culver City Film Festival in Los Angeles. I flew out to attend the festival and was thrilled to see my film shown on the big screen in a full-size cinema alongside a brilliant selection of shorts for an American audience. This felt like an amazing achievement but when I heard that my film had been recognised with the award for ‘Best Editing in a Short Film’ during the closing ceremony to the festival, I felt that buying my plane ticket had been money well spent!

Luke Alexander (centre) receives his award from the Culver City Film Festival judging panel in November.

I returned home with an increased enthusiasm and am continuing to pursue directing and building my portfolio, whilst working on filming projects for local organisations to keep the funds coming in! I’m not exactly sure what will happen next, but for the moment I am grateful for my time at BGS and the grounding, support and encouragement I received there in the early days of my interest in filmmaking.

Luke Alexander

Music

On Wednesday 17th October, we welcomed Mr Andrew Nunn, Artistic Director of the Ulster Youth Choir to the Music Department. He led the Chamber Choir in a choral workshop, focusing on breathing and vocal technique. The boys worked hard and showed significant progress during the morning.

Andrew was delighted with the sound they produced and was pleased that we were already working at a high level. We feel better equipped to tackle the challenges of new Christmas music after term and thank Andrew for the time he spent with us.

Christmas Carol Service

The 2018 Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols presented the usual assortment of the traditional and the modern that we’ve come to expect from one of our longest running whole school events. Long established seasonal offerings from Mendelssohn, Ord, Holst and Willcocks were rounded out with new works by Will Todd and Darren Baird as well an arrangement created and tailored especially for the Year 14. Forty-five old boys attended the service in Bangor Parish Church, the largest number recorded, with the vast majority performing in the BGS Concert Band and Choir. Next year will be our 50th service since it began in 1969.

Clifton Christmas Party

Christmas Toy Drop

Once again Bangor Grammar School staff and students braved the weather to collect gifts for the annual St Vincent de Paul Toy Drop!

St Vincent de Paul is a charitable group made up of volunteers who run regular activities to support those in need in our community. At Christmas they use a series of toy drops and other collections to support almost ninety families with children who are suffering from poverty.

Thank you to all those who donated a toy or gift this year—you have really made a difference to a child’s Christmas!

Ski Trip

The Austrian resort of Ehrwald is situated close to the border of Bavaria. The Hotel Sonnenburg sits on the Ehrwald slopes and is just 5-10 minute walk from the village centre. It is a superb resort offering guaranteed snow and no less than 200kms of piste.

The lift pass entitled us to use any of the nine ski areas in the Zugspitze Ski circuit. The Sonnenburg Hotel is on the Ehrwald slopes and the Zugspitze Glacier is a short ski from the hotel. The areas of Lermoos, Biberweir and Ehrwalder Alm are all within a 10 minute journey from our hotel.

Ehrwald, what an amazing experience and fantastic time I had. This was my second time to visit Ehrwald with school and my second time skiing. Last time I visited this winter wonderland, I had an unbelievable time, so when a space opened up for the trip I grabbed it. I was worried, due to the amazing time I had before, I was setting my hopes too high for this trip. But I was so wrong. I got to challenge myself this time, learn how to do jumps, go off-piste, and even ski down a slope with one ski on! An outcome of doing all these fantastic things, was many falls.

One of the greatest things about this ski trip wasn’t the skiing. No, it was the apes-ski activities, particularly the games of cards. Friends would go downstairs and play cards with a few teachers. I was on the second floor of the hotel and I could hear raucous cheers emanating from downstairs. On this trip I made new friends and improved old friendships. I would recommend any new students to grab this opportunity, because the memories you make on this trip will stay with you for life.

Josh Reddy, Year 10

Golf

Our Junior Golf team, comprising Max Carson (Year 11), Adam Smith, and Ben Escott (both Year 12) have won the Ulster Schools Junior Strokeplay Championship. This is the second year in a row our school have won this competition, and the third time since 2010.

It was held at Rockmount Golf Club in wet and windy conditions, with our team defeating 17 other schools to be crowned the Ulster Schools champions. They will now represent Ulster in the Irish Schools Junior Championship in April 2019.

J Todd, Teacher in Charge

Sailing

Congratulations to Year 13 student Dan McGaughey, who has been crowned NI Youth Champion Sailor after winning all five races at the RYANI youth championships in Royal North of Ireland yacht club. Fellow students Daniel Palmer, Josh Reddy and Dan Sherriff also competed at the event in the Topper, Feva XL and Regatta Fleet classes.

Swimming

The Ulster Schools Swimming Championships 2018, held on Saturday and Sunday 20th and 21st October marked the beginning of the swim season for BGS. For the first time, the Year 8 boys competed for the school in a team comprising Frank Allen, Connor Creaney, Josh Galloway and Andrew Molyneaux.

This fantastic group of boys each won 2 silver medals in 200 free and 200 IM relays. Additionally Frank Allen won 2 gold medals for 50 breast and 50 back. This promising group of year 8 boys also qualified for Irish Minor Schools to be held next year.

After all this excitement the junior boys were ready to show what they could do.

The relays were swam first and this team of boys lifted 2 gold medals in the 200 IM and 200 free relays. In the individual swims Ciaran McKee took gold in 100 backstroke, Austin Williams won bronze in 100 breast and Ben Riddell took bronze in 100 free.

When the points were added up at the end of the first day Bangor Grammar School lifted the Junior Cup. A fantastic achievement.

Not to be outdone, our intermediates Rhys Green (Vice Captain) and Daniel Thompson swam impressively in individual events, with Rhys making the 100 breaststroke final.

Finally, Jack Angus (Captain ) won gold in 200 IM and came 4th in 100 breaststroke final. A final relay team of Jack Angus, Rhys Green, Ciaran McKee and Ben Riddell fought off stiff competition to secure a bronze medal in the 200 free relay. A superb start for BGS and the rest of the season

On 2nd and 3rd November, Ben Escott captained the Ulster Water Polo U15 team in an Inter-Provincial tournament with Leinster, Connacht and Scottish Saltires.

The Ulster boys failed to win a medal but played well in a tough and physical contest. Ben is the first boy from Bangor Grammar to represent Ulster and as his coach at Bangor Barracudas I am extremely proud of this achievement. Ben made a great captain, showing leadership and sportsmanship to his team.

Mrs D Angus, Staff in Charge

Rugby

Bangor Grammar School 7 - 12 Royal School Armagh

Saturdays just aren't the same without rugby are they?

On Saturday September 8, Bangor Grammar School's 1st XV welcomed Royal School Armagh to Gransha Road, for the first proper match of the new season. Armagh were the runners up in last season's Schools' Cup, so would be a formidable opposition, even though both sides had several players absent due to provincial representation.

Fittingly, it was new captain Rhys Larmour who had the honour of kicking the season off. With a slight tailwind behind, the ball flew straight into touch.

Armagh had the first 'semi' chance as some nice set up play allowed their tighthead prop to run clear of the Bangor defence. Fortunately, this was only temporary as Patrick Dobie tracked back well to send his opponent to the well manicured Gransha turf.

Moments later a penalty conceded by BGS on the halfway line allowed Armagh to kick to the corner. The lineout wasn't straight and Bangor had the benefit of placing the ball into the following scrum. From this, scrumhalf Oliver Hamilton was able to kick the ball clear of harm's way.

From here on, Armagh began to control possession and advance slowly up the pitch. Some more excellent Bangor defence on top of the try line kept the visitors out.

In the 8th minute, one of Armagh's wingers speedily chased a kick bouncing nicely into the goal zone. Fortunately for BGS, the try wasn't awarded as the referee brought play back for an earlier infringement.

Four minutes later, and the burgundy clad side were attacking dangerously again. Off the back of a scrum, quick hands from the Armagh #12 set up winger Ben Lavery to run through a gap and touch down for the first points of the match. Out-half Romain Morrow was tasked with the conversion, and successfully added 2 points.

Bangor Grammar didn't get much of the ball through the rest of the first half, but defended well to keep Armagh out. One of only a few Bangor attacks in the opening period came at the hands of Ryan Bull, making 20 or so metres from the halfway line, but spilt the ball when tackled. His colleague in the second row, Patrick Dobie had a similar chance shortly after, after fullback Lewis Hatty opened a gap with a darting run. Unfortunately neither chance amounted to anything. All throughout though, Armagh's well trained defensive wall was holding up, and impossible to penetrate.

As halftime drew near, Bangor were forcing that wall further back up the pitch, but still had no points on the board.

Rhys Larmour and Conor Lusty came very close for the hosts, attempting an audacious 1-2 whilst running at full pelt up the pitch. Sadly the final pass was just too far back for Larmour to control without knocking on.

Five minutes into the second half, and BGS had picked up where they had left off before the break. From a five metre scrum, Oliver Hamilton quickly passed the ball across the back line to Rhys Larmour, and then Conor Lusty making incredible gains towards the try line, and using rotation to full effect. Lusty managed to get the ball to ground scoring Bangor Grammar's first points of the season. Rhys Larmour was on target with the kick. Momentum now with Bangor it would seem.

Over the last few seasons, we've really seen big improvements in Bangor's defensive abilities - credit to the coaches. Throughout the second half, the team managed to hold off Armagh time and time again, then either kick or play the ball out to safety.

That made it harder to take when Nicholas Jennings of Royal Armagh managed to drag his way through four Bangor men and score... actually almost identical to Conor Lusty's try earlier. The conversion this time was missed.

This try gave Armagh an edge again, which wouldn't be overturned. They hung on for a slender victory.

Last year the score was 34-7 to Armagh, so if statistics are anything to go by, Bangor have made big improvements over the last 12 months. The action on the pitch seems to back that up as well. This result bodes very well for the year ahead. Using last season as a form guide, we've just been narrowly beaten by the second team in Ulster.

It is very early days, but if the players missing can reintegrate themselves well into the team, who knows what we can achieve this year.

Bangor Grammar School 59-5 Belfast Metropolitan College

On September 15, Belfast Metropolitan College travelled to Gransha for a lively encounter with Bangor Grammar School's 1st XV.

The hosts took no time at all to open the scoring; full-back Lewis Hatty charging through a gap before touching down under the posts. Rhys Larmour found no difficulty in adding the conversion.

Five minutes later, Hatty was through again following a nice exchange of passes with Harry Angus down the left channel.

No matter how hard they tried, Belfast Met just couldn't keep the ball but dug deep to keep the young grammar side on their toes.

Shortly after, a rare Bangor error gifted Met a kick to the corner. From the lineout, the visitors successfully passed the ball across the pitch, and their fullback stretched over Bangor bodies to claim their only points.

Centre, Conor Lusty was Bangor's only scorer last week, and he continued his fine form with another two tries this week. The first was again set up by Harry Angus, as a timely offload cleared the defence for Lusty to run the final 20 metres unchallenged. His second was pretty similar, except Rhys Larmour this time opened the gap.

Between Lusty's scores were tries from lock Patrick Dobie and winger Michael McCreary; both players chalking up their first points in the 1st XV jersey. Their tries were both further examples of Belfast Met failing to close gaps and mark Bangor players at the edge of the pitch.

Larmour's kicking was on point throughout, hitting the target with all of his first four conversion attempts.

Next to cross the whitewash was Bangor's Adam Pritchard, powering his way through three Met players en route. Over the past year, Pritchard has proved to be an engine in the Bangor scrum. Remarkably this was also his first try for the 1st XV.

The most controversial moment of the match came as Belfast Met’s #4 tackled Will Simpson dangerously high. Fortunately, Simpson was able to continue unharmed whilst the perpetrator was ordered off the pitch. A quirk of schools' rugby meant that Met could continue with 15 players.

Two more debut tries for Bangor followed for Luke Norman and Ross Campbell, punishing ever-increasing gaps in the opposing back line. Both tries were converted by Harry McCracken.

This was a ruthless performance and a morale booster for the BGS 1st XV; though more significant tests lie ahead, not least Ballymena Academy next Saturday.

Ballymena Academy 31-14 Bangor Grammar School

On September 22, Bangor Grammar School's 1st XV travelled to County Antrim for a challenging fixture against Ballymena Academy.

Ross McCay of Ballymena Academy started proceedings, sending the ball deep at kickoff. After several phases of Bangor possession, scrum-half Oliver Hamilton was able to box-kick the ball up the pitch and out of harm’s way.

Through the early exchanges, Bangor Grammar were the quicker side with ball in hand. They pressed home the advantage with Gareth Wells' breakthrough try, only five minutes in. This was Gareth's first match of the season for BGS, having just completed his time with the Ulster U18s. Bangor captain Rhys Larmour was successful with the conversion.

As the first half progressed, Ballymena Academy's attacking threat developed. Stealing the ball at a Bangor lineout, their openside flanker sprinted clear; credit to Lewis Hatty for recovering to make the crucial tackle. A minute or so later, Harry Andrews powered over the Bangor try line to open his side's account. McCay was unable to add the conversion from a difficult angle.

Soon later, Bangor struck back with a try from Conor Lusty; the centre once again nimbly weaving through white shirts. Lusty has been in incredible form so far this season, and has scored in all three matches so far. Rhys Larmour was on hand for the extra two points.

The home side again retaliated, but their attack was thwarted by a foot in touch. This brought an end to the first half.

A Bangor lineout infringement ten minutes into the second half handed Ballymena a penalty. The kick could have brought them within a score of the lead, but instead ricocheted off the post and into the arms of Ryan Bull.

Ballymena's woes increased shortly later: one of their replacements was sent to the sin-bin for an off the ball incident.

Bangor failed to capitalise with a numerical advantage, and this setback only seemed to make the Academy all the more focused to score.

The turning point of the match, came fifteen minutes from the end. Opting to quick tap a penalty, Frankie Andrews was able to penetrate Bangor's line of defence. A successful conversion from Ross McCay reduced the deficit to two points.

At this stage, Ballymena had all the momentum and heads started to drop in the Bangor camp. Three tries in the closing stages from Craig Simpson, Ross McCay and Jonny Cochrane stole the match in heartbreaking fashion.

The win may have proved elusive for Bangor Grammar on this occasion, but there were still plenty of positives for the Bangor coaches and players to take away.

Bangor Grammar School 66-24 Belfast High School

On September 29, Bangor Grammar School's encouraging start to the 2018/19 season continued with victory in a 13 try thriller at Gransha Road.

Ahead of this match, a clashing Duke of Edinburgh expedition forced several changes to the Bangor line-up. Perhaps this inexperience was a contributing factor as Belfast High School's outside centre opened the scoring, from a perfectly executed switch pass just four minutes in. The subsequent conversion attempt by their out-half was equally successful.

Bangor responded well and drew level with a try from Conor Lusty. With Rhys Larmour away, Harry McCracken was on tee duty and his conversion added two points to the Bangor score.

Through the first ten minutes, Belfast High did well to contain the threat of the potent Bangor Grammar back line and opened a three-point lead with a penalty 22 yards out. This lead proved to be short lived as Bangor doubled their score: Sam Murray escaping the clutches of two Belfast High tacklers. McCracken was on target again with the conversion.

12 months ago in Newtownabbey, Rhys Larmour scored a stunning interception try from the halfway line. This time, it was Belfast High's inside centre in almost identical fashion, capitalising on a loose BGS pass and racing over the line.

Through most of the first half, this match was very much in the balance and the lead continued to switch hands like a hot potato; the score now 17-14 to Belfast High School.

As the clock ticked on, Belfast High didn't seem to have an answer for Bangor's direct passing; Harry McCracken and Harry Angus added further scores, to give BGS a 26-17 lead at half time.

After the break, Bangor Grammar wasted no time getting back up to speed. Set-up by Riley Westwood, Will Simpson was the next Bangor man to touch down.

All of Bangor's tries seemed to follow the same pattern: phases of passing would scatter Belfast High's defence, until a suitable gap opened for a BGS shirt to run through at close range.

Another four tries were added by Harry McCracken, Harry Angus and Conor Lusty, with the Jordanstown team responding courtesy of their number 8.

Bangor's advantage allowed coaches to introduce a full quota of replacements. These included Kristen McNeice of Year 12 who recorded a brilliant solo break from his own 22 in the last play of the match. Harry McCracken's conversion brought his final kick tally to an impressive 8/10.

This was a fine end for Bangor Grammar against a Belfast High team who have recorded some promising results so far this season.

Sullivan Upper School 33-10 Bangor Grammar School

It was beautiful weather in Holywood on Saturday October 6, as Sullivan Upper School and Bangor Grammar School locked horns in battle, with North Down bragging rights at stake.

Sullivan are unbeaten from their first three matches, and it was they who started brightest. Only a minute into the match, a scrum roughly 30 metres out gave the hosts a perfect opportunity to launch their first attack. With quick hands and fast legs, full back Shay Storey broke free for the first try.

Sullivan's scrum half Conor McKee has just completed commitments with the Ulster U18 schools team, and his conversion in front of the posts added to their lead.

After seven minutes, George Saunderson, was sent ​​to the bin for diving over Bangor's Gareth Wells in a mistimed tackle. Earlier in the year both of these players were teammates in the Ulster U18 schools side.

Bangor Grammar enjoyed more possession with the extra man, but weren't able to press beyond the Sullivan 22 as the hosts' solid defence held firm.

​With Saunderson back on the pitch, Sullivan looked a much greater threat. A bouncing kick into the corner was expertly chased into the goal zone by Storey, where two hands on the ball secured his second try. McKee's conversion brought the score to 14-0. A minute or so later, McKee was again back at the tee for a penalty. This time his kick was slightly wide of the mark.

​Thomas Leitch was the next to score for Sullivan. In arguably the most impressive play of the match, the Sullivan winger turned at speed past three Bangor shirts, and raced to the posts for Sullivan's third converted try in a dominant first half.

During the early stages of the second half, an improved Bangor Grammar pushed Sullivan all the way back to their own try line. Following a nice series of pick and gos, Gareth Wells reached over for his second try of the season. Rhys Larmour's conversion attempt struck the post.

​​Sensing that Bangor were growing into the match, Sullivan upped the ante again, but were tries were denied twice by Bangor holding the ball up on the line. That said, Bangor's defence could only hold firm for so long, and Harry Baird crashed over for Sullivan's fourth, this time unconverted. Bangor tried to fight back, but scrum-half Angus Christie's efforts to quickly restart play were continually stopped by the referee; thus momentum would be lost.

A line break from Scott Skelly soon opened up another nice attack for Bangor. The conclusion of this move saw Christie touch down, but the referee had already blown to penalise Sullivan. Five minutes later Christie repeated his earlier feat and play was again brought back by the referee. In doing so, Christie incurred a blow to the head and the Bangor number 9 was ordered off by the referee for suspected concussion.

In the middle of this prolonged Bangor attack, Sullivan's number 8 Oliver Faith was yellow carded for not rolling away during a tackle.

Bangor were eventually rewarded again for their efforts, with Conor Lusty reaching between two Sullivan bodies for his eighth try in five matches. With a couple of minutes left on the clock, Sullivan added to their tally. This time, Jamie Thallon was the scorer from a driving maul. McKee converted to bring the final score to 33-10.

Bangor Grammar School 12-7 Ballyclare High School

Whilst most of Northern Ireland was sodden with autumnal rain, on Saturday October 13 Bangor Grammar School and Ballyclare High School slogged it out in a match of attrition at Gransha Road.

The first five minutes were relatively even-sided as both teams tried to master the greasy conditions. Understandably, handling errors were made by both sides with the ball as slippery as a wet bar of soap.

The opening try was scored by Bangor Grammar prop Ben McCrossan, who powered past two Ballyclare players before touching down in the corner. The conversion was missed.

The match was turned on its head, just short of the ten-minute mark, as Bangor scrumhalf Angus Christie was sent off for a dangerous tackle on his opposite number.

Having an extra man on the pitch didn't seem to help Ballyclare much, as Bangor's 14 remaining men rallied to press forward.

Just before half time, Ben McCrossan scored his second try, this time finding space between Ballyclare bodies to get the ball down on the line. This would be McCrossan's last contribution, as he was withdrawn at halftime having felt unwell.

Rhys Larmour was successful with his conversion attempt, but Bangor wouldn't add to their twelve-point tally in the second half.

Ballyclare High School, winners of last season's Subsidiary Shield competition, attacked the start of the second half with renewed vigour. It didn't take them long to strike back at Bangor, with a try from Adam Campbell. Mark Jackson's conversion brought the score to 12-7 with half an hour remaining.

Through the remainder of the second half, rain intensity increased and tensions heightened. During this time, both teams had a player sent to the sin bin, and on balance Ballyclare had the better chances. Bangor's excellent defence spared them more than once, by holding the ball up on the line.

In the final few minutes, Ballyclare's number 14 made a fast break on the wing. Robbie Grant and Rhys Larmour collectively dealt with the danger, pushing the player and ball into touch. Immediately, Ballyclare High advanced again, just metres out. At this point, the result was still anyone's guess, but the visitors were penalised and this was the last chance of the match. Bangor were the side celebrating the final whistle.

Last season, Bangor were on the end of a 31-10 defeat at Ballyclare, so supporters will be encouraged by this very positive result.

Campbell College 42-40 Bangor Grammar School

On Wednesday October 20, Bangor Grammar School's 1st XV journeyed to Belfast to face the reigning Schools' Cup champions, Campbell College.

The big team news before kickoff was the return of rising Ulster star Aaron Sexton to the Bangor back line.

Less than five minutes in, a five metre scrum presented Campbell with their first scoring chance. Scrumhalf Dara Gaskin ran through for the first points. His own conversion ricocheted off the post.

Falling behind early seemed to galvanise Bangor, and they were soon level as Aaron Sexton's swift hands set up Cameron Stewart in the corner. Captain Rhys Larmour was once again on kicking duty, and his conversion opened up a two point lead for the visitors. For now though, Bangor's lead would be short lived.

Campbell hit back with a penalty and two tries from Jack Stinson and Rex Tinsley; the latter of which, an opportunistic solo break from 20 metres out.

On the brink of half time, prop Ben McCrossan added his third try of the season for Bangor Grammar. With no conversion, the score was 20-12 at half time.

In the second half, the drama, tension and scoreline continued to build. Tries for Aaron Sexton, Riley Westwood and Cameron Stewart for Bangor were interspersed by tries from Danny Williamson, Jack Megarry and Paddy McAlpine for Campbell. There was also a disallowed Bangor try by Harry McCracken, another Campbell penalty hitting the post, and a rare conversion charge down by Aaron Sexton.

With less than five minutes to go, the score was now 39-33 to Campbell. Bangor were the team in control of possession. If they could find it, a converted try would be enough to steal back the lead, and maybe even the match.

Through sharp passing, the ball made its way to Rhys Larmour, then Aaron Sexton. With incredible speed and strength, Sexton saw off two tackles and ran over the tryline before touching down. Rhys Larmour slotted home the conversion to give Bangor a single point lead with only seconds left on the clock.

Restarting play after the try, Campbell kicked deep into Bangor territory. In a cruel twist of fate, the ball bounced forward off a Bangor leg, and Campbell were awarded a last gasp penalty to win the match. Jack Bonnar was on target. The referee's whistle brought an end to a thrilling match, and the home side celebrated their hard earned win.

Campbell's motto is 'Ne Obliviscaris' meaning 'do not forget'. This match will certainly live long in the memory of all those in attendance. Campbell may have left with the win, but rugby was the real winner.

Belfast Royal Academy 33-26 Bangor Grammar School

On Saturday November 3, Bangor Grammar School suffered defeat against a well drilled Belfast Royal Academy side.

Throughout the match, a strong wind blew from one end of the pitch to the other. Belfast Royal Academy, coached by Brian McLaughlin, had the wind in the first half and set off fast. Tries from Ollie Parkes and Adam Keed, both converted by Harry Warke, saw them hold a 14-0 lead after five minutes.

Bangor Grammar were without Aaron Sexton, who picked up a concussion last time out in Coleraine. Growing into the match, they progressed towards the BRA try line, with tighthead prop Ben McCrossan driving just short. In the next phase of play, a loose pass was intercepted by an Academy winger dangerously breaking clear. After a 35 metre chase, three Grammarians recovered to snuff out any danger.

On the fifteen minute mark, Bangor were again camped on Belfast Royal Academy's try line. This time McCrossan powered over for the hosts' first score. McCrossan would soon score another in similar fashion with Rhys Larmour adding one conversion to reduce the defecit to two points.

Through the remainder of the first half, Bangor huffed and puffed, but couldn't add to their score. On the brink of half time, BRA executed a nice series of pick and goes to push up the pitch. Prop Patrick Termini finished the move with the crucial touchdown. The score at the break was 19-12 to BRA

Bangor Grammar, with the wind now behind them, began the second half stronger. Darting through bodies on the line, Cameron Stewart's try and Larmour's subsequent conversion levelled the score.

But for every try Bangor scored, BRA quickly responded to regain the lead. Two more tries for BRA, scored by Jack Whittley and Adam Keed, were interspersed by an Oliver Hamilton try for Bangor Grammar. With ten minutes to go, BRA led 33-26.

Bangor players tried hard to find a score late on, but struggled to master the strong breeze. In the end, the match fizzled out, and BRA clinched victory.

Bangor Grammar School 28-20 Ballyclare High School

Bangor Grammar School returned to winning ways on Saturday 17 November, as they travelled to a return fixture at Ballyclare High School.

One month ago, both teams faced each other in wet and windy conditions at Gransha Road. On that occasion, Bangor fended off late Ballyclare pressure to hang on for the win. Would home advantage be enough to sway the tide for Ballyclare this time around?

Ballyclare started well and scored first, with full-back Jack Gault touching down in the corner, just inside the two-minute mark. The conversion attempt from a wide angle was unsuccessful.

It didn’t take Bangor Grammar long to respond, and centre Conor Lusty soon levelled the score. Rhys Larmour’s conversion gave Bangor a two-point lead.

Bangor’s back line, again without Aaron Sexton, had ample space to run as they utilised the full width of the pitch. They were soon on the attack again. A perfectly timed pass from Harry McCracken opened space for Harry Angus to run, before grounding the ball behind the posts. Larmour was on target again with the conversion.

Ballyclare struggled to get into the game in the first half and conceded again before the break. Patrick Dobie’s grounding from close range, and Larmour’s conversion, brought the half time score to 21-05 in Bangor’s favour.

Bangor Grammar picked up where they left off after the break, and were unlucky not to score again, as an almost certain Michael McCreary try was ruled out for a knock forward in the build-up.

Minutes later Bangor did get their fourth, as Conor Lusty launched an audacious solo break from half way, running past four Ballyclare players then touching down under the posts for his tenth try of the season. Rhys Larmour kept his 100% success rate intact with the subsequent kick.

At this point, the match had already slipped away from Ballyclare, but they refused to give up and fought back showing brilliant character with three tries by James Logan, Robert Reid and Matthew McCullough (all unconverted).

In the end it was too little, too late for Ballyclare High School. Bangor Grammar players celebrated their fourth victory of the season so far.

Simon Hull

Credits:

Created with images by Rhiannon - "delhi road india"

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