At Sunday evening's Hunt Club Presentation Evening, this year's Huntsman Rory Fraser (Ch) handed over the ceremonial whip to Theo Clarke (S) who will take on the prestigious role for season 2014-2015. The position (described by former Master Willie Jones as "more important than the Head of School"!) was first established in 1831, and is a significant role in this most historic of clubs. The sterling work of Rory Fraser leaves his successor with a very healthy club and one of considerable promise and potential in its ranks.
The year ahead looks set to be equally promising for the Girls' Hunt, particularly with a strong intake of Third Form runners joining our fold. Under the captaincy of Lucie Cornwell-Lee (MSH), the Girls' Hunt has experienced unprecedented success this year, taking three titles (the Shrewsbury Relays; the Spring Relays; and the prestigious Midlands & Northern Cross-Country Championships), and placing an exceptional 4th in the national Coventry Relays, just 9 seconds away from winning a national team bronze. Lucie hands over the reins to an athlete of exceptional ability,Tory Mobley (EDH), who recently placed in the top 30 at the UK inter-counties and has been at the forefront of the Hunt's successes this year.
The Presentation Evening was particularly special this year as we welcomed a guest speaker Hugh Ramsbotham (former Housemaster of School House) to speak about his son Will, who was Huntsman in 1984-1985. Up to Under-16 level, Will was (in Hugh’s words) "totally absorbed by anything with a ball – School teams in cricket, football, rugby, Fives, etc." Hugh describes the moment his son turned to Hunt running as being pivotal in the trajectory that his life took, and the combination of his two great loves – running and climbing – "dominated his life and gave him immense joy and a very full, though tragically short, life”.
His involvement with the Hunt – where he arrived late but went on to become a key member of a hugely successful squad – was an extremely influential one that impacted on many of his later decisions, such as a gap year teaching in Nepal because of the trekking and climbing, and his route to Edinburgh University where there were more mountains to be climbed and an exceptionally strong university Fell Running team. In fact, had he not taken up a geology scholarship to India, he would have been competing in the World Fell Running Championships – and this was a runner who only took the Hunt up in the Fifth Form.
Tragically, the day after breaking the record on the Cader Idris Fell Race in June 1993, Will Ramsbotham was killed in a climbing accident on the same mountain. In memory of this truly inspiring Salopian, his fellow Hunt runner Oliver O'Callaghan-Brown (Huntsman 1985-1986) has this year established the Will Ramsbotham Award in order to reward and support a Fifth Form Hunt runner who has shown considerable promise, though has perhaps not yet reached the elite level of the club.
The very first recipient of this prestigious award is Charlie Rogers (Rb) who, like Will, has come to the Hunt later than some, but already Charlie has shown significant improvements and indeed this year ran sub-8 minutes in the Benjies for the first time. He is a young athlete of considerable ability and potential, and it is our hope that the achievements and ambitious spirit of Will Ramsbotham will both influence and inspire Charlie and others within the Hunt as they progress on their own journey through the School and beyond.