AN old girl and new bishop returned to Bolton School Girls’ Division to inspire a new generation of pupils.

The Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff, who was recently consecrated Bishop of Lancaster was a guest speaker at the sixth form presentation evening.

Bishop Jill talked about her own time at the school and told pupils how she realised now that the school had set her up for life having been told that she could achieve anything she wanted.

She recalled how, during the 1980s, her cohort had been reminded that the Prime Minister was a woman, as was the Queen, so anything was possible.

Citing the Nigerian feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Bishop Jill told the girls: “Don’t fold yourselves up because you feel the need to be liked, but unfold your wings to the fullest extent.”

Quoting Catherine of Siena, she encouraged girls to be who God called them to be and set the world on fire.

She advised girls that they were at a mountain top moment where they could take stock and pride in how far they have come and look forward to the future – a future where they should stretch their wings and take up that big vision!

Earlier chairman of governors, Mr Michael Griffiths, told girls that they had excelled in a school of high achievers and the school was proud of them.

He praised the “outstanding and dedicated staff and headmistress” and offered thanks to parents for the support they have given throughout.

Mr Griffiths spoke of how the academic results achieved by pupils allowed them to attend the very best universities but he also emphasised the holistic education that the school provided, delivered with passion and compassion.

When pupils leave, he said, they are well prepared to be key players in the world. Mr Griffiths also expressed his delight at the recent success of the 100 Bursary Campaign, which has raised £5m to help deserving local children enjoy an education at Bolton School.

Addressing leavers directly he advised them to “follow your instincts, but above all, keep to the values you have learnt here, they are precious. It’s your future so good luck and have lots of fun!”

In a humorous and touching address, headmistress Sue Hincks recapped the leavers’ time in school, wished them all the very best in their future lives and commended their academic and extra-curricular achievements, saying: “They are testament to your intellect and the hard work and dedication of your teachers.”

She spoke of the community action and volunteering that the girls committed to and how, last year, the school had won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) and earlier this year had won the TES Award for Community Initiative.

She said she was delighted that over the course of the year, the Girls’ Division had raised £13,500 for charities and had hosted a series of enrichment lectures that were open to the public.

The gathering of parents, pupils, governors and teachers in the great hall sang the hymns I Vow to Thee My Country and Jerusalem and student saxophonist Abigail Naylor performed Concerto by Alexander Glazunov before Rev Dr Jill Duff distributed GCSE and A level certificates and school prizes to the students

The evening culminated with a rousing version of the school song before refreshments were taken in the dining hall.