Oundle welcomed back to School, Dominic Reid (B 1980) to deliver the Oundle Lecture, which he titled “Life’s Rich Pageant”. Alongside Lower Sixth pupils were some of his former classmates and his long-retired teachers, as well as Julian Wontner, whose father was inadvertently responsible for him coming to Oundle as a pupil. He described life as a rich pageant, in that all pageants are slightly chaotic and uncontrollable, but capable of tremendous emotional impact. In an unexpected synchronicity, Dominic said that another Old Oundelian, Arthur Marshall, had also described his life’s story from Oundle onwards as a “rich pageant”.
Professionally, Dominic is an organiser of pageants and complex events that bring people together under a common cause, and that often have great historical and emotional weight; events that are often televised live and watched by millions; events in which nothing is allowed to go wrong. Among them have been the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the Boat Race, the Royal Society anniversary and the 25th anniversary in the Falklands War. He calls the Lord Mayor’s Show the backbone of his portfolio. He’s been Pageantmaster for 30 years, longer than anyone in its 800-year history. He said he has stayed in the role because the Show is “fundamentally, a good thing”; it’s a platform for good citizenship in which every one of the 7000 participants has a compelling story to tell.
He drew upon the many stories that make up his own long career, and asked the pupils to reflect on and watch out for three aspects that will shape the direction of their lives over the years: the people who will provide meaning; the purpose that motivates our actions which in turn have an impact on others; the strands that connect and create interdependencies throughout life.
He described strands that began at Oundle and that made meaningful connections years later – from his own A level project that linked to his daughter’s training as a ballerina, to the Royal Anglian cap badge that his father had bought him while he was a cadet at Oundle, which he found himself wearing again last month.
Dominic said he learned from his father, who had been Pageantmaster for 20 years, the importance of treating all the people who work together on a project with the same due respect. He has worked with thousands of people from royalty and military leaders to broadcasters and sporting legends, as well as the many employees in lower paid positions who ensure that each event functions efficiently. The trait he most valued in these relationships was straightforwardness.
Among the many people who have supported him and whose stories have been inspirational, he paid tribute to Richard Smith (StA 1979), who was in the audience. He said long after they had left Oundle, Richard became an important person in his professional and personal life, and together the two Old Oundelians now run the Invictus Games.
Dominic was called on to organise the first Invictus Games in 2014, and he’s now CEO of the Invictus Games Foundation, working closely with Richard and Prince Harry to liaise with cities, venues, and sponsors to bring together wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, both serving and veterans, to compete in multi-sport events. He spoke movingly about the profound courage that the participants demonstrate in their rehabilitation journey, and how the Games empower them with a purpose to achieve.
He told the pupils that Dolly Parton’s words were worth bearing in mind: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
Dominic Reid (left) and Richard Smith