ECP’s First Headmaster Remembered – Hubert Ward OBE

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Dr Brown recently attended the funeral of the English College’s first Headmaster. He, along with several of our Governors, welcomed the opportunity to express their condolences on behalf of the ECP to Hubert’s widow, Judy, and his children.


Hubert Ward OBE was appointed Principal-elect of the yet-to-be-opened English College in Prague in 1992. He and his first wife, Elizabeth, took on the daunting task of establishing a new school in a far away country. Hubert was eminently well-qualified for the role. As Founder Governor Ann Lewis wrote in her first history of the College, Old Roots, New Shoots:

“He had taken over as Head of King’s School, Ely, when it was at a low point in its long history and made it into an excellent school. He had wide experience, including teaching at Geelong Grammar School in Australia. He had remarkable energy and combined being a Head with an unusual range of other activities, including being a Magistrate, a Church Reader, a Member of Cambridgeshire County Council, and of a number of Governing Bodies including Frensham Heights school.”

It was Hubert who organised the transformation of our building in Vysočany. He turned it from an empty building, abandoned to enable the construction of the Metro station, into a functioning secondary school. He also navigated our registration as a Czech school with the Ministry of Education. He recruited the staff, and most importantly, inspired the first students and their parents to take a huge leap of faith and sign up for a different sort of education.

As one of ECP’s first students said:

“It was the Wards (Hubert and Elizabeth), whose humane and very warm approach made my mother believe that the ECP building under reconstruction would provide her son with the best education possible and that the very high school fees would somehow pay off in the future…

And it was also the Wards and their kind eyes and voices, who made me in April 1994 believe that I should perhaps learn that terribly illogical language called English and not go to the German college as I had been hoping for.”

Tomáš Pospíšil, who graduated from the ECP in 1999, is now Deputy Head of Mission – EU Delegation to Uruguay.

A Different Education

Back then, Prague was a very different place. Czechoslovakia had just emerged from 40 years of Communism and was keen to take its place in a democratic Western Europe. ECP’s Founders wanted to establish a school in the tradition of the old Prague English Grammar School. It would be British in style and ethos, but offering the International Baccalaureate to give young Czechs the opportunity to study at the best universities around the world.


Dr Brown says: “Hubert Ward guided us through those first two, challenging, years and built a solid foundation for all that was to follow. I am sure he would have been delighted to know that we have just begun construction work on developing the site he first acquired for us.”

Founders’ Days

Having established the school, Hubert took a well-deserved second retirement. However, he continued to follow our progress with interest and we were delighted to welcome him back on several occasions, including Founders’ Day on the 20th anniversary in 2014 and the 25th anniversary in 2019.

ECP’s First Day

In his speeches on those Founders’ Days, Hubert reminisced about the first day the ECP opened, on 4 September 1994. He shared the speech he made at the time. There is no better way to reflect on the journey that the English College has made over the past 29 years than to read his words to the 117 students who walked through the iconic blue doors for the very first time on that day. 

We will always remember the very important part Hubert Ward played in the history of the English College. We are therefore pleased to announce that the Headmaster’s Prize for Service to the School is to be ren-named the Hubert Ward Prize for Service to the School, by kind permission of his family.

Hubert Ward’s speech at ECP’s very first assembly

“I am delighted to welcome you all here today, the first full day of the English College.

We stand on the brink of a great adventure. Sixty nine years ago, a school was established in this country, a school dedicated to the proposition that all children are born equal and all deserve a good education. That school survived a World War and did not close until this country descended into forty years of darkness. We are here today to re-establish the traditions of the former Prague English Grammar School.

We must also remember the long tradition of independent thought established in this country by people such as Hus, Komensky, Palacký, the Masaryks, Beneš, Dubček and Havel. This is a proud tradition, second to no other country in Europe. It is for us here today to pick up, and to pass on, that tradition. It is for us here today, Czech and ex-patriate alike, jointly to resolve that this new English College, founded by a combined venture of Czech and British people, shall have a new birth and that education of the people, by the people, and for the people shall be freshly established, and shall endure.

Today we begin to build a school which may help to light the way not only for the people of the Czech Republic but also for all the peoples of Europe as this continent once again moves towards a unity it last enjoyed at the time of Charles IV. Every one of us here this morning has a part to play in this challenge. Everyone of us here this morning can help to turn this dream into reality. I wish all of you, teachers and pupils alike, every success in your future. I have quoted freely from Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. I want to finish by quoting three simple words by Winston Churchill: All I want to say to you is “Go to it!“ – and God be with you.”