Parry Gold Medal
Origins of the medal
In 1875 it was announced that Thomas Parry, who had been unseated on petition after winning the secondary Boston parliamentary seat at the previous year's general election, had vested the sum of £1,200 in trustees to provide a number of scholarships to Boston Grammar School and a gold medal, "to the value of ten guineas", to be awarded annually to the best scholar of the year.
It was, said the Boston Guardian, "a charitable act... unparalleled in the wisdom of its conception and in the admirable purposes which it has in view".
At Christmas speech day in 1875 the first gold medal was presented; it had, said Major Hopkins, who made the presentation to his "old friend Fred Pattenden" been "fairly and honourably won". The Rev George Coltman, rector of Stickney, who gave the address referred to Parry's "truly noble and magnificent gift". Fred Pattenden was "not allowed to share in the distribution of prizes, because he was the headmaster's son", but his poem and that of Richard James Newcomb - both entitled "Visit of the Prince of Wales to India" - were read by the headmaster.
The first female winner
Boston Grammar School is predominently a boys' school with three girls who entered the sixth form in 1954 believed to be its first female pupils. This trend has continued intermittently ever since with girls now becoming a regular feature of the sixth form (about 30 out of 160 sixth form students in 2005/6). Sunita R Deshmukh became the first girl to be awarded the Parry Gold Medal in 2005, achieving what had previously seemed the impossible feat of following in the footsteps of her brother, Sandeep R Deshmukh, who won the medal in 2002.
Sunita later related that the first time she looked up at the Parry Gold Medal board in the school library she saw "SR Deshmukh" and thought for a moment her name was already there when of course it was her brother's. Two years later her name did indeed join Sandeep's on the roll of honour.