The Old Cerdics Association was founded in December 1929 by the then Headmaster Mr.D.B.M.Hume, in conjunction with a number of ‘old boys’. It was felt at that time that an association would enable former pupils to keep in touch with one another and they would still maintain an interest in the school and help the school in many ways.
Some ninety years on these aims and objectives are still being upheld today. Membership of the OCA is open to all former pupils. Parents subscribe to the Association whilst their children are pupils at the school and upon leaving they become Young Old Cerdics (YOC’s), assuming full membership at the age of 18. Staff become Honorary Members whilst teaching at the school.
There continues to be very close links with the school. The OCA is represented at all major school events and Old Cerdics are welcome to visit the school at any time, although access can at times be difficult during holiday periods. By tradition Old Cerdics over the years have been involved with the governance of the school.
In 1948 the school’s gymnasium was refurbished and dedicated as a memorial to those Old Cerdics who died during the 1939-1945 World War. Rolls of Honour for those who died during both wars are mounted in the school chapel and their names are read out each year at a special remembrance service attended by both present and former pupils.
From humble beginnings in 1954 the Old Cerdics Scholarship Fund, initiated by Headmaster Lawrence Powell to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of the OCA, supports the School in awarding bursaries. Two awards are announced annually by the Head at the school’s Prize Giving in July – ‘The Old Cerdics Academic Bursary’ and following the death of Lawrence Powell in 1998 ‘The Lawrence Powell Music Bursary’. The fund also provides bursaries towards school fees at the discretion of the Trustees in conjunction with the Head. Many of the prizes and cups awarded at Prize Giving bear the names of former pupils some dating back to the 1930s.
Old Cerdics are in contact with each other across the globe and small groups meet informally on a regular basis. There are two formal gatherings each year. The main event held in June by long standing tradition is the annual reunion dinner in Chard, preceded by the Annual General Meeting. This event now follows the school’s Summer Fair held on Monmouth Lawn that has proved to be a good meeting place for Old Cerdics of all ages. A rolling programme of other social events is also held during the weekend and at other times throughout the year.
Over many years reunions have also been held on a regular basis in London and the Home Counties. For at least the past twenty five years Old Cerdics have met in March at the Maidenhead Rugby Club in Berkshire for lunch. This has become a popular on-going event with Old Cerdics travelling from all over the country to attend. In 2012 John & Chriss Stotesbury were special guests of the OCA at this event in order to mark their retirement and the outstanding contribution they had made towards the OCA whilst Headmaster and Bursar at the School.
A newsletter, published by the School, containing articles of interest relating to both the School and the OCA is sent by email to all members worldwide. There is a section devoted to news of former pupils and staff. Past issues are posted on the website (click here to view).
The history and development of the OCA is marked along the way with many notable milestones. In 1996 the School celebrated its 325th Anniversary. That year over 100 people, including past and present Headmasters attended the OCA annual dinner with the Mayor of Chard and local MP, The Rt.Hon.Paddy Ashdown (latterly Lord Ashdown) as principal guests. Eight years later the OCA celebrated its 75th Anniversary, marking the occasion with the presentation of a new flag to the School.
In 2007 the OCA was largely instrumental in the publication and launch of an authoritive history of the school, ‘CHARD SCHOOL – Three Centuries of History’. Researched, written and compiled by Derrick Warren, himself an Old Cerdic, this is a comprehensive account of the school’s long history dating right back to 1671 when William Symes gave his Manor House to the Portreeve and Burgesses of the Borough of Chard for a piece of gold ‘for the education and bringing up of youth in virtue and learning’. Copies of this definitive history can be purchased from the school.
The 80th Anniversary of the OCA in 2009 was marked by a series of special events held to celebrate the occasion including a commemorative service in the school chapel on the exact day of the anniversary attended by a cross section of Old Cerdics from all generations including the 1930s.
In 2015 the 85th Anniversary was celebrated by the presentation to the School of a framed print of one of the school’s most famous alumni Thomas Wakley, born 1795. Wakley was one of the most influential social and medical reformers of the19th Century – founder editor of ‘The Lancet’ acknowledged today as the most authoritative medical journal world-wide. He was a Member of Parliament for nearly 20 years and Coroner for West Middlesex, a post he was to hold until he died in 1862. The portrait was unveiled by the Minister for Schools, The Rt. Hon. David Laws MP at a special ceremony in the school chapel at which the Mayor of Chard was also present.
Most recently the 90th anniversary of the association was celebrated in June 2019 with a special anniversary dinner at the Guildhall in Chard. The event proved to be the largest gathering on record at an OCA dinner involving the whole school community including Katie Hill, Headteacher, staff (past and present), parents and Governors. Former Headmaster, John Stotesbury, and Chair of the Governors, Edward Colgan, were also present.
Whilst the OCA is a financially stable and viable organisation it relies entirely on voluntary contributions, both annual and ‘one-off’ donations. Annual donation forms and further details can be obtained from either the Secretary or direct from Chard School. In accordance with the Scholarship Fund’s charity status gift-aided donations can also be made directly towards the Old Cerdics Scholarship Fund, in which case a Gift Aid Declaration Form confirming the donor is a UK tax payer should be completed. Points of contact and further information can be found below:
POINT OF CONTACT/FURTHER INFORMATION
Chairman & Hon.Secretary – Old Cerdics Association – GRAHAM CHAMBERLAIN
2 Heywood Farm Cottages, Snowball Hill, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 3LU
Tel No: 01628 829623 or mobile 07967 860780