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Going, going, gone!

The call to arms at the end of last week’s blog, to get bidding in our Auction of Promises, has been met with the most incredible response, reflecting the spirit of generosity within our school community. Friday’s auction event was totally brilliant and rather overwhelming, not just for the money raised, but for the goodwill we’ve encountered within our local community, from start to finish.

To have a successful auction you need lots of lots – and a good variety, so there’s something for everyone. Including the spectacular online auction, over 100 promises were made including tennis lessons with John, consultations with architects, holiday houses to borrow and … the opportunity to have teaching assistant, Alberto, turn up at your party dressed up as a pirate. My personal favourite was the opportunity to be the mascot at Leyton Orient, but sadly I was outbid on this one, instead turning my attention to being taken ten-pin bowling by teachers Dan and Rob.

Then you need to make sure that everyone is in a good mood. Here, our now-legendary mixologist parents Jason and Rachel, put their skills to good effect with the hope that shots of free rhubarb schnapps might impair the judgement of some of our guests. The way the bidding went later on in the evening suggests that this was money well spent. Good food always helps, and here Muswell Hill celebrity chef Chris Kitch pulled out all the stops with the most incredible display of food, brilliantly supported by parent and pastry chef, Shiri, who excelled with the puddings and the most beautiful cake made by Roberta.

Then you need an auctioneer – or two. Here we were fortunate enough to enlist the services of Old Highgate Primarian and Political Editor at ITV, Robert Peston. Robert was delighted to see that the school was still very much as it was in the 1970s, noting that we still have the same wall bars that he climbed on as a boy. His skills as an auctioneer were clear, driving up bids with a combination of dry humour and mild humiliation. With things running a bit late, parent Sam Evans was seconded to be the auctioneer for the latter part of the evening, proving himself to be a complete natural. What’s more, he now has the opportunity to tell his friends that Robert Peston made a great warm up act.  The only criticism I had of Sam was his failure to accept a few ludicrously generous bids made by his wife Catherine, who clearly got a bit over excited – perhaps a reversal of the first half?

The staff band kept everyone entertained, with great singing from Hilla and David, and provided the Headteacher the opportunity to duet on Gershwin’s classic, ‘Let’s call the whole thing off’. I think the idea is to practice things, not until you get them right, but until you can’t get them wrong. Sadly, despite hours of practice in my office, the shower, the car and on my walk to work, this didn’t quite work, but I was proud to have done something completely outside of my comfort zone – making a few people smile!

At the end of the evening (which was quite late for one or two of the stragglers) a great night had been had with a lot of money raised, exceeding everyone’s expectations and putting the school in a position where we can commission the next part of the playground redevelopment. So, thank you to everyone who helped in some way to make this such a success, including our sponsors Ants Removals, Timber Windows, Highgate Dental Practice and BCL Solicitors, and the team of parents who organised and ran the event from start to finish; especially Julie, Suzanne, Jenny, Ai-Khanh and Alessandra, whose energy, commitment, enthusiasm, determination and powers of persuasion have been an inspiration.

And if you’re reading this and thinking you might have missed out, don’t worry. The Online Auction is still running, so get bidding now. You know you’ve always wanted to ring the school bell!

William