Merriel Halsall-Williams, head of spoken English at Moreton School, Weston Rhyn, has been awarded a Fellowship of the Girls’ Schools Association (GSA).
Miss Halsall-Williams first taught at Moreton between 1965 and 1977, only to return in 1992.
Involved with the English Speaking Board for more than 60 years, her impact on public speaking has been described as ‘unique and immeasurable’, with generations of the school's pupils having honed their oratory skills under her guidance.
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.”
Over the years Miss Halsall-Williams has seen a plethora of students achieve the highest accolades for public speaking – Thomas Cranmer finalists have been presented with awards by Prince Charles, and the English Speaking Board’s Young Speaker of the Year Competition has been won six times by her students.
Florence Tyne, a sixth-form student at the school said: "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.