To mark Founder’s Day, Melissa Murrell, Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator at The Whitgift Foundation gives an insight of the great celebration in a first-hand account as a Foundation staff member.
No day is ever the same working at The Whitgift Foundation what with a warm, friendly and diverse environment comprising staff members, residents and students, and today on Founder’s Day, is no exception.
This is my first Founder’s Day ceremony so I couldn’t wait until Tuesday 22 March to arrive so that I could be a part of such an amazing celebration and legacy. Like every year, the morning started off with a church service at the Croydon Minster where a grand drum roll by Whitgift School’s Corps of Drums commenced outside. It was an inspiring service lead by Revd Canon Colin Boswell who spoke of the importance in taking time out to give thanks and remember others. It was also lovely to see our three schools, Whitgift, Trinity and Old Palace and Whitgift Care homes come together to each offer a prayer as part of the service.
Archbishop John Whitgift begun his work on building the Hospital of the Holy Trinity (now known as the Whitgift Almshouses), based in North End, in 1596 and he laid the first two Foundation Stones on 22nd March. This year celebrated 402 years since the first Founder’s Day Service in memory of his acts of service to the community.
We had a special guest join us this year, the Mayor of Croydon, Cllr Patricia Hay-Justice, who presented us with a book to sign for the Queen’s 90th birthday which was an excellent touch to the day. It’s quite nice to know that, possibly at some point, after Her Royal Highness’ birthday, she will sit down somewhere in her palace and read all the well wishes and tributes to her excellent reign from the Croydon community and come across the warm wishes I had written to her – it is a lovely opportunity to be able to contribute in that way.
Once the service had ended, we made our way back to our respective schools and care homes to celebrate further. Staff from the Foundation’s headquarters and guests were invited to a drinks reception at the Whitgift Almshouses, which closely followed a lunch attended by Governors, staff and residents courtesy of a long standing tradition by the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers’ who have supported the occasion for more than 400 years.
It was a great opportunity for me as a fairly new member of the Foundation to meet with some of the Governors and share our thoughts on the importance of Founder’s Day. We were all in agreement that it is a reflective time to acknowledge how Whitgift’s vision to support the more vulnerable members of society through education and care has had a long lasting legacy on the Croydon community to this day. It also highlighted the importance of continuing to provide opportunities where young people and older members of society are able to have access to the best education and care and how we, as members of the Foundation, can best communicate this through our channels.
Founder’s Day has been a truly insightful occasion for me. Not only is it an important memorial commemorating the great charitable work and beliefs Archbishop John Whitgift was committed to and carried out for the community, it was also lovely to see the whole Foundation come together, from the special residents and compassionate carers, to the talented students and dedicated staff members which I’m sure our Founder would have been proud to see.
For further information on the history of The Whitgift Foundation, visit: www.whitgiftfoundation.co.uk/content/our-history