23rd November 2020 — Moreton Hall is delighted to announce that its Head of Spoken English, Merriel Halsall-Williams has been awarded a Fellowship of the prestigious Girls’ Schools Association (GSA). A stalwart of the school, Merriel first taught at Moreton between 1965 and 1977, only to return in 1992.
Involved with the English Speaking Board for over sixty years, her impact on public speaking has been described as ‘unique and immeasurable’. Generations of Moretonians have honed their oratory skills under her guidance.
Over the years she has seen a plethora of students achieve the highest accolades for public speaking: Thomas Cranmer finalists have been presented with awards by Prince Charles; English Speaking Board’s Young Speaker of the Year Competition has been won 6 times by her protégés.
Florence Tyne, a Sixth Form student added: “I remember my first lesson with Miss Halsall-Williams! I was asked to pretend to be in a hot air balloon and describe what I saw. Nervously, I talked about the blue sky and the gentle wind; generic I know. But Miss Halsall-Williams didn’t think it was boring. She encouraged me, helped me and guided me, not just in that little exercise but for the next five years. She prepared my talks with me, gave up her own time for my practise; her generosity is outstanding.
“During this time I performed in Belfast, in debating competitions and for HRH Prince Charles. Words cannot fathom how grateful I am to her."
Fellows of the GSA are typically nominated for being inspirational individuals, who embody the values of the GSA; the Fellowship is an honour awarded to individuals at the discretion of GSA members.
Most Fellows are former GSA Presidents and former GSA committee chairs whose contribution to girls’ education and the GSA has been outstanding. Others are individuals who have made a considerable positive influence or impact on the lives of young women, as a role model and/or through the impact of their work; Miss Halsall-Williams has certainly achieved this.
Speaking about her Fellowship, Miss Halsall-Williams said: "This was so unexpected and I am very grateful. It has made me think back to how many girls’ schools I have taught in and to how many pupils have gone on to achieve awards for public speaking."
Moreton Hall’s Principal, George Budd, added: "When we were asked to consider nominations for a GSA Fellowship, Merriel immediately came to mind as someone who has made a quite remarkable contribution to the education of hundreds of young women over an incredible 60 years. Merriel is a true living legend - someone our pupils respect and our Old Moretonians adore seeing again when they return to the school."