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Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School Horncastle

Sheku Kanneh-Mason at Royal Concert HallSHEKU KANNEH-MASON
Second Album Launch – Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Friday 10 January 2020

It’s not every day you get to be in the presence of a musician who has performed at a royal wedding, at the BBC Proms 3 times and the BAFTAs twice, not to mention who has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List at the age of 20!  

On Friday 10 January, I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the launch of cellist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s second Album, ‘Elgar’ at the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham.  It was held in the intimate setting of the foyer with the limited tickets selling out within 15 minutes of release.  I first became a fan of Sheku’s when he won BBC Young Musician of the Year 4 years ago and have seen him perform live four times.  He is a great inspiration to me, both as a musician and as a young person.   

The event began with a small concert featuring 3 pieces from the new album:

Scarborough Fair (trad.) in which Sheku was accompanied by one of his younger sister’s, Jeneba, on piano.

Prelude (Bloch), accompanied by his elder brother, Braimah, on violin.

Spring Song (Bridge), again accompanied by sister, Jeneba. 

When I have seen Sheku perform previously, he has often been supported by one or more of his siblings.  It is great to see how they support each other and, despite Sheku having the recording contract, they all seem to appreciate each other’s talent.

After the concert, Sheku spoke to the audience about how life has changed in the past two years and about the new album: 

He told us that he has been very busy and is currently in his third year, studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London.  When asked about his performance at the royal wedding in 2017, he said that he enjoyed performing to a large crowd and loved the pieces which he performed.  The publicity which he received afterwards has allowed him to perform more, including at Carnegie Hall, which he particularly enjoys.  

Sheku talked about the importance of having a life outside of music, saying that if life was just music with no other interests, it would not be a “real life”.  He enjoys playing football (despite the risk of injury to arms and hands!).  Having 6 siblings, the Kanneh-Mason home was like a small conservatoire, all the children are musical and play a variety of instruments including piano, cello and violin.  Sometimes it is a rush to get to the best piano in the house (they have two!).  However, now some of his siblings have also moved to London to study.  He sees Braimah the most as he shares a flat with him.  

Next Sheku went on to talk about the new album, simply entitled “Elgar” whch probably gives us a clue to its main feature – Elgar’s Cello Concerto.  The album is a mix of the major concerto and short pieces.  

Sheku told us that the concerto has been a favourite since he was very young and the iconic, and probably the best known, performance is by British cellist Jacqueline du Pré.  Amazingly, they were both the same age (20) when they recorded the concerto, it was recorded at the same studios (Abbey Road) and with the same accompanying orchestra (London Symphony Orchestra).  Sheku described Jacqueline as “my inspiration”, in particular he loves the honesty and expression of her performance of the piece.  He said that he didn’t find the similarities of the circumstances daunting and felt that it was a “personal piece of music where playing it was like talking to one person, rather than to a crowd”.  

The conductor of Sheku and the LSO for the recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto was Sir Simon Rattle.  Sheku described how he felt very supported by Sir Simon who allowed him to feel very free with his performance.

Once the discussion was over, there was an opportunity for me to meet Sheku (and get a few signings).  I took the opportunity to ask him how he managed to balance school studies, revision and cello practice when he attended Trinity School in Nottingham.  Sheku said that it was very difficult and always a challenge.  He told me that he sometimes got up early in order to get some practice in before school and that school was very accommodating in finding him little areas to practise, whether it was in the sports hall or in a practice room.  He told me that the balancing act does get easier, since at the RAM, he is now just studying the one subject.  Sheku kindly signed some CDs for me and also a poster for QEGS Music Department (he asked me if this was payment to school for me being allowed to attend the launch?).

Meeting Sheku at the album launch and hearing him perform with his siblings was very special and I will remember it forever.  As I’ll be taking my Grade 8 piano exam later this year, I’m hoping that the advice he gave me ……. along with a little ‘Sheku magic’ will provide me with the inspiration to put in the best performance I can.  

An old girl of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Horncastle, who was a British suffragette and socialist, is now commemorated through a blue plaque, mounted on the school gate post in West Street. 

Connie Lewcock, nee Ellis, was born on the 11th April 1894 and lived at 7 West Street in Horncastle, the only child of Thomas Henry Ellis and his wife, Emily Mary, née Lessware.  Connie won a scholarship to the grammar school in Horncastle where she remained until she was seventeen. 

Connie Ellis became an ardent women's suffragist Aged 14, Connie became an ardent women's suffragist after hearing a speaker on the promenade at Dunoon, who made her feel “that equality and freedom were the most important things in life”, she later recalled in an interview, in 1976.  As a school girl, she saved up money in order to travel to London and take part in a suffragette procession and demonstration in Hyde Park.  Inspired by the "Votes for Women" campaign Connie joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). 

As a suffragette, Connie was responsible for burning a wooden railway building at Esh Winning, in an attempt to raise awareness for the women’s cause. She had designed a system where a jar of flammable liquid was set alight when a candle burnt down. This meant that by the time the wooden building was alight she was miles away establishing an alibi; she later described the event as the “perfect crime” as the Police could not make formal charges as she had over thirty witnesses who could testify that she was with them at the time of the fire.

In 1918, after being engaged for four years, Connie married William Best Lewcock at Horncastle Congregational Church; they had three children, Sheila, Peter and Cynthia. Connie’s later life was dedicated to serving the public as a councillor; from 1960 she represented the Benwell ward on Newcastle City Council, acting as chairman of the housing management committee and the parliamentary and general purposes committee and vice-chairman of the finance committee.  In 1961 Connie was awarded an OBE for her public service.  After a fall, in 1980, Connie died at Newcastle upon Tyne General Hospital.

On 10th May 2018 Connie Lewcock's family received an honour on her behalf from the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Linda Wright, and from the Deputy Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Jill Green.  Connie is commemorated too with her own plaque on the "Local Heroes Walk of Fame" which runs along the Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside. And now she is also celebrated in Horncastle, at her old school, QEGS, where the blue plaque, unveiled by Cynthia, her daughter, together with four generations of her family, memorialises her contribution to others.

Unveiling of the Blue Plaque for Constance Lewcock Constance Lewcock's daughter and family Unveiling of the Blue Plaque for Constance Lewcock

Mrs Payne and Ethan with his cadet commendation

Ethan, Year 11 student and air cadet with 17 (Coningsby) Squadron, is pictured with Headteacher Mrs Payne, holding two recent awards.  As well as being awarded Cadet of the Year 2018, Ethan was recently presented with a certificate of merit by the Regional Commodore.  This was as a result of first aid given by Ethan to an elderly lady who collapsed at the RAF Coningsby firework display.  Summoned by members of the crowd, Ethan assessed the situation and sent another cadet for assistance while he put the lady in the recovery position and cleared and ensured the area around her was safe until an off-duty paramedic came to the scene.  Ethan would like to be a paramedic in the future.

On the weekend of 11th – 12th October, Georgina Hadley took part in one of the five International Irish Dancing Championships that are held each year.  Georgina produced an outstanding performance, gaining a position that placed her in the top twenty competitors on the international stage.  A personal best gave Georgina 12th place overall (and also 4th British girl).  Her hard work, determination and intensive training (up to 18 hours per week) has seen her gain 62 ranking places in just a year.  She has qualified to represent England at the World Championships to be held during the Easter Holidays in USA next year.

Irish Dancing is an athletic art form that teaches true competitive spirit, resilience and determination as well as great comradery, respect and hard work.  Georgina’s successes proves that nothing in life can be achieved without effort! Well done, Georgina. Below is a photograph of Georgina performing in the competition.


Irish Dancing

Yellow-Bellied Knights - QEGS Chess Team

A couple of months ago Ian Scott (the LSCA Coach) put together and then entered a team of Lincolnshire students into the Junior Four Nations Chess League (J4NCL). This is the elite league for junior chess in the UK.  All the other teams are based at chess clubs or chess associations and have significant coaching programs and funding behind them. One club, for example, has over 150 junior players, many of the teams have weekly grandmaster coaching sessions.  The Yellow-Bellied Knights were the only team of privateers.

It has taken Ian Scott 4 years to find suitable players and he also coaches three of the four team members.  In September the team, accompanied by Ian Scott, went to Daventry to compete in the J4NCL.  The weekend consisted of 5 games for each team member (3 games on Saturday, 2 on Sunday).  Each game averaged between 1.5 and 2 hours. The standard of the opposition was significantly higher than the last time that a team from Lincolnshire had played in the league so the Yellow-Bellied Knights were up against it. Other teams that entered were representing Wales, Manchester, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Chess in Schools (a heavily funded national organisation) to name just a few!

David Scott who has just started the Sixth Form at QEGS, has been a regular on the chess circuit for a number of years and beat his first International Master last year at the London Chess Classic. On the Daventry weekend, he played board one for the Yellow Bellied Knights so was up against the top player of all the other teams they faced.  He came away with two wins, one draw and two losses. David was incredibly focused and put in a level of effort and concentration that would put many experienced adult players to shame. Playing Board One is not just about being the best player but also about leading the team. The result was the team came second out of twenty-two teams. David was an absolute credit to himself and his school. The other team members come from Boston Grammar School, LSST and QEHS (Gainsborough).

We are very grateful to Ian Scott who organises, supports, coaches and funds the team himself.  Below is the successful team with David Scott in the middle of the photo, third from the left).  Coach Ian Scott is standing next to David.

On 10th July 2018, I was lucky enough to go to the RAF 100 parade and flypast in London !! The RAF was formed on the 1st April 1918, from a mix of the Royal Flying Corp ( Army), and the Royal Naval Air Service. Since 1918, the RAF has participated in operations from the famous Battle Of Britain, in World War 2, to current operations, fighting in Afghanistan and Syria. However, the RAF also supports numerous humanitarian operations, for example, airlifting people out of danger, and delivering vital food, medicines and shelters to areas hit by natural disasters.


Back in London, the celebrations began with a march of over 1000 men and women of the Royal Air Force. All the Squadrons standards (flags) were paraded. The band of the RAF and the RAF pipes and drums, accompanied the march. I found this march very moving because their drill was immaculate and so was their uniform. I found it inspiring because they all looked very proud and as the crowd cheered some of them smiled.


RAF 100 march in London

The next part of the event was the flypast, 100 aircraft of the Royal Air Force flew over central London, down the Royal Mall, and over Buckingham Palace. This was the largest flypast in memorable history, even Heathrow airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, had to close for 25 minutes! It started off with helicopters, including the Chinook, followed by slower aircraft, such as shadow and training aircraft including the Prefects. The crowed roared as the Battle of Britain flight came into view. Lead by the Dakota, we saw Hurricanes, Spitfires, and then, amazingly, the only Lancaster capable of flying, named, The City Of Lincoln. Next in the flypast there were the heavy aircraft, for example, the Voyager, Globemaster, Rivet Joint, Sentry ( which my mum flew in for 10 years!). Next, it was the turn of the fast jets, the Hawks, Tornados and the RAF’s latest fighter jet, the Lighting.

Then the crowd gasped, as the Typhoons flew past in the formation of the figure, 100!! The flypast was brought to an end by Britain’s favourites, the Red Arrows, streaming red, white and blue smoke across the sky. I felt honoured to be there and I will never forget this truly astonishing experience. It was a once in a life time event and I was thrilled to see it in person and to share the celebration with my family. I am thinking of joining the RAF as a career and watching these events has made me more keen to do so.


Written by Cara Walker  Typhoons in the formation of the figure 100  The Red Arrows trailing red, white and blue smoke