DAME Fiona Reynolds was guest speaker at King’s Ely’s James Bowman Lecture this year.

Dame Fiona, who is Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and former Director-General of the National Trust, inspired senior students, staff, Old Eleans and guests at the annual lecture, which was held in the school’s Hayward Theatre on October 5th.

Dame Fiona spoke about her book, The Fight for Beauty, in which she writes about the things that really make life worth living – a vision for our environment, our society and our future. She spoke about a solution that is at once radical and simple, to inspire us through the beauty of the world around us. Delving into our past, examining landscapes, nature, farming and urbanisation, she discussed how ideas about beauty have arisen and evolved, been shaped by public policy, been knocked back and inched forward until they arrived lost in the economically-driven spirit of today.

Principal of King’s Ely, Sue Freestone, said: “It was a real privilege to welcome Dame Fiona to King’s Ely. Her talk was impassioned and compelling, and she presented some challenging concepts to our students. We could not have had a better speaker.”

The James Bowman Lecture was established by King’s Ely three years ago to promote the creative and liberal arts at the school, and is generously supported by the Old Eleans’ Club.

James Bowman, CBE, is a world-renowned counter-tenor, whose career spans opera, oratorio and solo recitals. He was educated at King’s Ely between 1951 and 1960, singing as a boy chorister at Ely Cathedral, before going on to study at New College, Oxford, where he was a member of New College and Christ Church choirs.

He spoke of his career as “a wonderfully exciting journey” and remembers his time at King’s Ely fondly commenting, “I can’t emphasise enough the profound effect this school has had on me”, going on to say, “The school taught me the real meaning of musical discipline, for which I am eternally grateful.”

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