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Gryphon Gallery: Hugh Henderson

The name Henderson at GNS is most likely identified with a senior trophy for “Top Award for a Drama Student Capable of Going on in Theatre”, or sometimes the name of the building also called the PAC, which currently houses band, choir, Middle School art, the staff room, the health centre and the archive facilities. Both connections have been in existence since 1971, both recognizing the contribution of Hugh Henderson for his long and important association with GNS (Norfolk House).

Hugh and Mary Henderson were the parents of NHS students Alix ’59 and Kathleen ’66. He was a prominent lawyer, Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of BC and Chairman of the Board of the Bastion Theatre Company. Within the NHS community, he was well-known for ‘rescuing’ NHS from severe financial difficulties in the mid-1950s and later for setting up the registered non-profit Norfolk House Society of which he was Chairman of the Board from 1955 to 1970. 

One of his early successes was to hire Miss Winifred Scott as headmistress. Supported by his staunch advocacy for a strong senior division, she guided the school with vision and dedication. Combined with his efforts to negotiate the termination of the original limited company, by pursuing all outstanding preferred shareholders, he finally reached a settlement circa 1964. From then on NHS functioned unfettered as a truly independent school.

During the 1960s, as enrolment increased, more space was needed for a new art room, a second gymnasium, and a place for music and drama. With these spaces in mind, a new building was completed and in 1971, named in honour of his service to the school. In that same year, he and his wife presented the Henderson Trophy for Drama, in recognition of their enduring love for the performing arts.

Without question, Mr. Hugh Henderson ranks as one of many “valued builders” of what is now Glenlyon Norfolk School.