There’s something marvellous about school reunions. People go for years and years without remembering moments from their classroom past and then suddenly the smallest incident is recalled in almost cinematic detail! That’s what makes the OW Dinner such a great occasion. Stories that have not been heard for decades are given an outing – often greatly improved in the telling – and for a moment an entire school and its community is glimpsed through a swirl of affection and amusement.
The OW Dinner took place in the dining hall – sorry, that should be Tuckwell Room – which had been splendidly decorated for the purpose. Gone were the long Oliver Twist benches we all remember, and in their place were the posh green chairs on loan from The Abbey. It looked a picture as the guests filed through from the School Hall, drinks in their hands, having enjoyed the music of the excellent School Swing Band. This was a gathering of young and old, from pre-war pupils down to modern era. Some of the present staff were mingling with former pupils and it is great to see how easily they mix and chat. Surely that shows how good relationships are at Woodbridge?
For most people the evening carried the added bonus of getting a look at the new Headmaster, Neil Tetley, who had been in the job for all of three weeks and so was expected to know everything and have a policy on much more besides! His report on the School was full of good news and showed how successful it continues to be – academically, culturally and socially. Many guests expressed the thought that Stephen Cole was going to be a hard act to follow, but Neil shows signs of being an impressive performer too. The School is in good hands.
Long after the meal was over the tales rolled on, and for someone who has spent his career at Woodbridge School it was extraordinary how much I had missed. There were stories which made us laugh and squirm although perhaps it was kindness which prevented us recording the details!
I always loved Christmas at Woodbridge School. I found the whole experience of those last weeks in December to be delightful. There were the various concerts, always performed with skill and joy, but also sometimes in Father Christmas bobble hats which was thought to be quite daring! The Christmas Dinner was always a special occasion – more bobble hats, of course – and that sense of a community which has survived another year, and emerged stronger than before. Of course the Carol Service(s) was the perfect way to close a term: all those beautiful carols, the Choir on top form, familiar readings (often by people you had not thought of being public readers!) and just that sense of all being right with the world. Memories are made of such things, and the OW Dinner reminded me how important and long-lasting they can be.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
God Bless you all.