Ray returns to musical dream

He arrived fashionably late, but no-one grew tired of waiting for rock legend Ray Davies when he visited his old stomping ground on Monday night.

The former Kinks frontman drove the short distance from his Highgate home to Fortismere School to officially open the new music wing and reminisce about his formative years.

“It was called William Grimshaw in those days. I don’t know who William Grimshaw was but the name was quickly shortened to ‘the grim’. It was an experimental school, founded in the late 1950s to give opportunities to less academically gifted children. I was one of them,” he said.

He recalled that there was no cohesive music department then and he could only “gaze in wonder” at the new multi media wing. “The machinery is awesome: that’s an over-worked word but it applies. As far as music is concerned it is important to have creativity because ideas cannot be taught and this is a really creative environment.”

He invited Fortismere students to join him on music projects to celebrate the anniversary of the Festival of Britain and the coming Olympics, and earlier in the evening the audience heard two pieces by the Crouch End Festival Chorus, who have backed the singer on stage and in the studio.

The school’s head of music, Sarah Ogilby, also recalled days when the music department was less glamorous. “Musical experiences at Fortismere were housed in dilapidated buildings with cracks in the walls and holes in the roofs. What this new building says is that music is important to this school and this community... it raises the bar. This is a building to be proud of and a legacy for the future,” she said.

The new music wing is part of the Building Schools for the Future programme and Cllr Lorna Reith, Haringey Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, might have been referring to the coalition government’s education cuts when she said: “BSF represents a genuinely once in a generation opportunity to give our students the first class facilities they deserve: facilities that enable our young people to realise how much they are valued, and inspire them to bigger and better things.”

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Tributes were paid to the vision of former head Aydin Onac who attended the opening and new head Helen Anthony said that the wing had been completed “by the skin of it’s teeth” under BSF funding.