PRIZE GIVING 2012
The annual concert and prize giving is always an event enjoyed by a wide audience of parents, staff and OCs. Tuesday 17th July 2012 was no exception rounding off another successful academic year for the School, celebrating the achievement and progress of the pupils. The afternoon at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Furnham Road had a real OCA flavour with President, Charles Denman having been invited to present the prizes and Rose Tresidder presenting the leavers with a copy of the history of Chard School.
Having been treated to a selection of songs by Symes, Horner & Monmouth the concert ended with the Junior Classes singing familiar songs from ‘The Sound of Music’ that brought the house down with a standing ovation. Given that this was Upper Cerdic’s last full day at the School the words of the final songs ‘Climb Every Mountain’ and ‘Farewell Goodbye’ were particularly poignant. Many of the cups, presented annually were originally donated by OCs and still bear their names – two former Headmasters D.B.M.Hume and L.S.Powell for instance; pre-war OCs R.J.R.Whistler, A.P.Yerbury, Monty Austin, J.R.Long, J.F.Madge, and William Parminter; and from the 1950/60s E.H.McMichael, R.C.Dawson, R.W.S.Strawbridge and J.G.Bean.
There are many ways the OCA can fulfil its original aims and objectives set down at its inaugural meeting in December 1929 but surely the most effective means are the holding of social events where old friendships can be sustained and rekindled. There are two such regular events, one in the Spring and the traditional reunion in Chard held every June.
Old Cerdics are welcome at all major School events and the eagerly awaited Summer Fete on Monmouth Lawn in June is no exception. On these occasions the sun shines in abundance and sun hats and sun cream are the order of the day. Sadly with the wettest June in 100 years 2012 was not to be, the event being postponed on the day before due to the weather. Frantic calls between the President and the Secretary and an urgent email sent from the School alerted OCs not to attend. Most were quick to find alternative arrangements, including a personal tour of the School for Peter Gant (special thanks to Lindsay and Stephen) who was most anxious to re-visit old haunts.
As a footnote the Summer Fete was eventually held two weeks later on 30th June with over £1300 raised on the day.
ANNUAL DINNER 2012
This did not dampen the spirits of OCs and friends attending the annual dinner at the Chard Rugby Club on Saturday 16th June, a week later than usual due to the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, although certain ladies would not agree. As OCs went off to the obligatory AGM at 6.00pm leaving the ladies for their customary Pimms’ party in school they found security so tight they couldn’t get into the building where liquid refreshment and ‘nibbles’ had been carefully prepared – no one had thought to arrange for the caretaker to open up for them! Off they trooped on a very wet and dismal summer evening to the rugby club venue where the bar did not open until 7.00pm!
However, the usual formality of the AGM, with President Charles Denman in the chair, proceeded in the dry in time honoured fashion. The Secretary reported on OCA activities during the past year and the Treasurer presented the annual accounts which were in good order.
Following the meeting the men-folk joined a rather disgruntled group of ladies but never the less the annual dinner held at the Chard Rugby Club for the third consecutive year proved by all accounts to be most enjoyable despite a number of regulars being unable to attend this year.
Notable among OCs present were Peter Gant (already mentioned), Mike Skelsey and Peter Baulch who hadn’t attended an OCA functio n for some years. The School was also well represented by new Head Jane Bruce and her husband Rory, the Bursar Emma Lupton with husband Richard, and Penny and Chris Medland, Lindsay Dumble and Ann Taswell.
Among the absentees OCA doyen Derrick Warren, who has certainly not missed a reunion in many a decade, was unable to be present due to hospitalisation with a severe back problem. However, prior to the meeting he had made contact with the Secretary with a request that a bugle he had ‘rescued’ from the school in 1941 should be collected from his home in Taunton for presentation to the School. It had been collecting dust in his loft for some years and felt the time had come for this to be returned to its rightful home. This was duly presented to Jane Bruce during the evening who is now intent in placing it on display in the School, and also, threatening to treat the OCA to a ‘bugle voluntary’ at next year’s dinner! Watch out for details.
Local caterers, the Tasty Trio, laid on a substantial buffet with assorted desserts after which renowned guest speaker Peter Tinney from Wedmore, Somerset regaled the gathering with a most amusing talk on ‘Schooldays and Early Life in Somerset’ that kept the room in fits of laughter throughout, surpassing all expectations.
With John and Chriss Stotesbury as Special Guests Maidenhead 2012 was justly billed as a Special Occasion to mark their retirement after seventeen years as Headmaster and Bursar of the School. To ensure they arrived in good order they were royally chauffeured from Somerset for the occasion by OCA President Charles Denman and his wife Di.
Also present as guests of the OCA were Debbie Humberstone and husband Steve who also had motored up from the West Country. Debbie was largely responsible for setting up the OCA web pages and maintaining the Association’s data base whilst working at the School, so this was a good opportunity to say thank you.
After the usual ‘hellos’, ‘how are yous’ and kisses for the ladies twenty eight sat down for a sumptuous rugby lunch sponsored once again by OCA Secretary and long-term Maids. supporter, Graham Chamberlain. The number would have been more but for last minute cancellations due to ill health and competing family commitments.
The long table was appropriately adorned with yellow and blue napkins and place mats with a picture of John and Chriss surrounded by the school shield and ‘Happy Retirement’, surreptitiously produced by Bryony and Nina in the school office unbeknown to the Headmaster and only revealed on the day when a sealed envelope was handed to the Secretary.
Notable among absentees again this year were Mike and Pip Yule who were off travelling the world but Mike’s brother and ubiquitous OCA photographer Tony more than adequately deputised in conducting the ‘free’ raffle and ‘guess the score’ competition. Given the Maids. outstanding record of fourteen home games without defeat everyone, bar one, gave Maidenhead to win by a good margin, only to find the record was over-turned by enthusiastic opponents from Dorset, Swanage & Wareham. After a number of recounts and mental arithmetic, not the strongest subject matter to test Old Cerdics (!!), it was judiciously decided to award the winner of the ‘jackpot’ to David Critchlow, a just reward for having travelled with Hazel from the far distant borders of Scotland.
Sorely missed among other regulars were Doreen and Michael MacMahon, who reluctantly had to cry off due to an unfortunate attack of Bronchitis – without doubt the first OCA event Mike, an ever-present OCA Vice President, has missed in many a year.
On the plus side it was good to see, among all the other familiar faces, Edward Towne a former master who taught at the School in 1971 and who had travelled from Rochester in Kent by train. He was instantly persuaded to purchase an OCA tie by Treasurer Dickie Lawson, another intrepid traveller from the West Country who had journeyed up from Chard with Margaret and Robert Morgan and fellow passenger Mick Farthing.
After lunch, and the consumption of a liberal amount of wine, formalities were orchestrated by the President who proposed a toast to John and Chriss Stotesbury for their immense contribution towards the work of the OCA during their seventeen years at the School. In so doing they were presented with a suitably inscribed gold rimmed china plate supplied by OC Peter Gant and a framed painting of the front of the School by another OC Frank Charles. Sadly both Peter, who lives in Shropshire and Frank, from Norwich, were unable to be present to see the presentation.
The President also formally announced that it was the intention to appoint Chriss Stotesbury as an Honorary Life Member of the OCA in recognition of her individual support and interest – an honour only awarded in recent times to Eileen Powell and Mary Edwards. As John Stotesbury is already a Vice President of the OCA it will be hard for both to turn their backs on the OCA
Following this, on a very warm March afternoon the more hearty joined a large crowd to watch a second half come-back by Maidenhead in which they managed to reduce a twenty point half time deficit to within two points at the very end which they could have easily won had a penalty from in front of the posts not gone wide. The less hardened remained in the bar to reminisce about days at Chard School!!
JOHN STOTESBURY – HEADMASTER 1995-2012 AN APPRECIATION
It is said that when Lawrence Powell lowered the school flag in 1971 for what he thought was the last time, he prophesised that the spirit of Chard School would not die until every person present that day had died. It would seem that for once his words of wisdom would prove to be unfounded.
Whilst annual reunions were still being held on a regular basis following the closure of the boarding school in 1971 it is perhaps fair to say that some 25 years on the OCA was in a state of limbo, not quite knowing what the future held and whether it could survive much beyond the millennium. All this changed in 1995 when John and Chriss Stotesbury arrived at Chard School to take up the position of Headmaster and Bursar.
In conjunction with the new Headmaster bridges between the OCA and the School were re-established due largely to the efforts of OC David Critchlow, son of Bob who was still teaching at the School in 1971, and former Headmaster Lawrence Powell who never turned his back on the School he had nurtured for so many years.
Once again the gates were open and OCs welcomed into the School, effectively the OCA was regenerated and revitalised by this welcome change of direction. The constitution was changed to allow junior membership. For the first time in 65 years the OCA lost its established sexist tradition and girls were introduced into their ranks!
OCs of all ages are now represented at all major school activities and more significantly are actively engaged in the governance of the School, indeed for the past 12 years the Board of Governors has been chaired by an Old Cerdic.
Much has been achieved in 17 years. The future of the OCA is now assured for at least another generation. Long may it continue.