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Home > News and Events > President’s Blog: The OW Dinner Saturday 9 S...

President’s Blog: The OW Dinner Saturday 9 September 2017

22 Sep 17

Can you ever enjoy a dinner even when the food is excellent and the wine deliciously tempting, if you have to deliver a speech afterwards, without a microphone?  Well in the case of the OW Dinner 2017, yes.  This attracted a particularly convivial crowd, mostly from those who left in 1992 and 2007 (25 years and 10 years since leaving respectively).  The Tuckwell Room was splendidly arrayed and coped with pre-dinner drinks in there too rather than on the rain-soaked chapel lawn.  Well done the Swing Band for coping!

It has only taken 25 years but at last I have discovered why Kevin Boyd slept so badly on the last night of the Classics trip; it was all Jaik Campbell’s fault apparently, though he very plausibly denies it. And as they were both in my tutor group thirty years ago, I shall just have to believe them both…

Do we still have ‘train boys’?  There were several in this 1992 group including Robin Catchpole, David Green and Nick Brough (who is still using his nickname gained then).  They were some of my first Form I French class in September 1985; we were both new to the school together and apparently I was “scarily strict”.  Imagine that.

It was good to catch up with ex-Under Officer Josh Brown, ex-Sgt Chris Marshall and ex-Flt Sgt Ed Bowden, who all helped improve and expand the CCF to help it on its way to what it is now.  It was that year group which suggested incentives such as stable belts for the senior NCOs, which continue to this day.  They also became incredibly adept on the assault course which also developed and helped the contingent win that element of many regional and national competitions.  I was just sorry that John Edwards and Marcus Stapleton couldn’t be there that evening.

Former boarders Mel Hunter, Natalie Lawrence, and Mike Robinson were to the fore, all seeming very grown up but with interesting tales to tell about their time in Queen’s and School House.  No apologies needed, Mel!  Ginto Lee came up from London to light up the room with his smile.  Joe Steventon is taking care of animals from his practice in Hasketon Road and Joe Fairs has recently returned from London and set up a business and is enjoying Suffolk again.

Gemma Morley is teaching yoga and other interesting therapies in London, very much needed in stressful times.  It was also good to meet some spouses – James Hutchinson’s and Josh Brown’s and they appeared to cope very well with the reminiscing going on all around.  And the prize for the most changed from the 1992 group goes to Tim Waring who is taller and darker haired than I remember, but then boys do change more after leaving school.

And from the younger year groups it was good to see David Armitage and his fiancée.  David, former senior PO in the RN Section of the CCF and now holding a commission in the Royal Navy, had one more assessment to do in order to complete his helicopter pilot training; all he needed to do was successfully land and take off from a ship at sea.  Chris Leng and Fred Marlowe were sporting splendid beards.  Chris didn’t take up my offer to continue the conversation in French…  Simon Hill is still buzzing from his A-level physics class’s results this summer – he has cracked how to teach this challenging subject in Sheffield.  Might he have a genetic advantage?

Keith Rowbory is still smiling and practising maritime law in London. And then there were Lucy Havard, Emily Purser and Maria Wyard (yes we heard your laughter across the room, ladies!).  Lucy is embarking on a degree in the history of the philosophy of science (or is it the other way round?) after some years practising medicine, Emily is having a ball at the University of the Arts, London, and no one has made administration sound such fun.  Maria is recently back from Pakistan, working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and awaits her next overseas posting.

Of the ‘youngsters’, it was good to see Marc and Alistair Jeffreys at the dinner (the latter left only in 2015) and Aron Lankester has completed his apprenticeship with BT, so successfully that they are sponsoring him to do a further year of degree-level study.  Sadly I didn’t get a chance to talk to many others.  I heard Adam Lawson’s laugh many times but didn’t manage to talk to Anna Lawson and Paula Sheridan.

I was very happy to be seated with Morgan Davies, former OW President Huw Turbervill, and Clare Kneebone who organised the dinner so excellently.  All were in brilliant form and very good company.  I couldn’t help noticing though that we were sitting on the (slightly) older half of the room.  Sorry folks, that’s just life.  I was also next to the Headmaster, Neil Tetley who gave us a brief taste of some of the developments in the school, notably moving Queen’s House to the Abbey site; it seems an exciting time in the school’s life.

Lastly it was very good to have staff support as ever as they are who OWs like to see again.  Miss Gill seemed to have a great time reminiscing about Iceland and Norway and no doubt geography too, Mrs Willett, OWs Mr and Mrs Hillman and Mrs Tyndale-Brown, as well as the Head and his wife, Laura.  I was sorry not to be able to talk to many of the OWs who left in the 40s, 50s and 60s, but I am hugely looking forward to the opportunity to do so at the Senior Alumni Lunch to be held on 17th February 2018.  That will be for those who left 50 or more years ago and we will be treated to a talk on the school by Mark Mitchels, past OW President.

In between times, there are Christmas Drinks to look forward to in the King’s Head.  But let’s not will Christmas on ourselves just yet…  Keep in touch!

Graeme Bruce

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