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9 Apr 20

From the President of the Old Woodbridgians

Michaelmas term 2019 starting for the OWs with an excellent dinner in September, which may be the last in that format for a year or so. The food was again top notch and the atmosphere was very convivial. It was lovely to have one of my former colleagues there; Miss Shona Norman, then Acting Head and since appointed as Head of Woodbridge School spoke briefly about the school and recent and future developments. Other notable attenders were Helen Foster (née Clarke) formerly Head of School and member of my sixth form tutor group who had come across for the event with Alwyn Morris, formerly AS French class member when it was a separate qualification from A level. They both teach in Loughborough where Helen is Deputy Head and Alwyn is Head of Sixth Form with fingers in several pies, such as writing and examining English A level. Former colleague (and tutee!) Adam Lubbock was also there and it was really good to catch up with him.

Remembrance Sunday is always a moving experience at Woodbridge. As you stand in front of the War Memorial, you are looking across the playing fields where those named on the memorial must have played in games lessons and matches immediately before going off with their regiments, never to return. I was honoured to lay a wreath on behalf of the OWs. Harry Hobday as Head of School also laid a wreath; Harry is the son of OW Fiona Watson. Afterwards I spoke to Mrs Clark, mother of Philip, Louise and their late brother Oliver, all OWs and she was there to help her children’s grandfather to attend. That was a lovely meeting.

Christmas Drinks at the King’s Head were done slightly differently this year and although there were just as many recent leavers as usual, they signed in with David Houchell to get their drinks tickets and it is good that some more contacts were created because of that. The atmosphere was as jolly as ever with groups finding each other again after busy terms all over the country (and some coming back from abroad) with some preferring the “fresh air” of the yard at the back rather than the crowded bar.

A little work has been done in the Archives but there remains much to do. One of the treasures that was unearthed was a “List of Sixth Formers permitted to use Motor-bikes” from 1982, included below and also on the OW Network. How old do those registration numbers look? Louise Van Zwanenberg enjoyed that from South America where she now lives. As a colleague in the Chemistry department, Louise helped set up the Royal Navy Section of the CCF in the 1990s, not long after this list was drawn up. She must have been a very young colleague indeed!

It was sad but prudent to cancel the Senior Alumni lunch in February and how the world has changed since then. I am writing this after two weeks of social distancing and self isolation. Never has my car sat for so long in one place nor has my garden ever been so well weeded. But these are anxious times and the threats to health, social and mental wellbeing, and the economy are real and will be long lasting. I hope that we start to see a loosening of ‘lockdown’ soon and that we can return to our full calendar of OW events. In the meantime, if you have a spare moment on your tablet or computer, sign up for the OWnetwork.co.uk and even better, scan and upload some photos from your time at Woodbridge. Now that very few photographs are taken in school classrooms or lessons, those would be particularly interesting. Sports fixtures, CCF events, drama, music - all invaluable if you have them. To end, I wish you and your families a safe and healthy navigation through the changes that Covid-19 has brought to us all and I look forward to seeing some of you at the next actual (rather than virtual) OW event.

Graeme Bruce
8 April 2020

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