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OA BULLETIN Old Albanian Club

June 2017

The School performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Shakespeare Schools Festival at the Abbey Theatre

Dream role

OA CLUB President Mike Hodge 07774 161624 Secretary David Buxton 01727 840499 Treasurer David Hughes 07701 027881 Membership Secretary Roger Cook 01727 836877 OA SPORTS RUGBY President Richard Milnes 07940 255355 Chairman Rusty Osman 07976 292737 Treasurer Rick Powdrell 07795 200125 Secretary Peter Lipscomb 01727 760466 Mini Chairman Mike Fisher Junior Chairman Ian Tomlins 07867 971585 OA Saints Chairperson Kate Barnes 07841 706250 FOOTBALL Club President Simon Bates & Manager 07720 383600 01442 240247 Treasurer David Hughes & Club Secretary 07890 831315



Sponsorship Secretary

01727 769237 David Burrows 07841 431614

CRICKET President Tony Dalwood 07958 522261 Chairman Richard Morgan 01727 843844 Treasurer Richard Ransley 07878 499432 Secretary Alison Finley 01727 853985 TENNIS Membership Enquiries Maureen Harcourt 07710 270361 OTHERS Rifle & Pistol Angling Golf

Andrew Wilkie 01202 424190 Geoff Cannon 01727 861622 /01582 792512 Peter Dredge 015827 834572

OA LODGE Assistant Secretary

John Williams 01438 715679






“Are you not entertained?”

blinking into the digital age of laptops and e-mail. Photos had to be scanned and returned to the sender by post; hand or type-written articles “Writing is easy,” said Mark Twain. required copy typing and often a “All you have to do is cross out the degree of decryption that would wrong words.” I have been crossing have challenged Bletchley Park at out the wrong words in the OA the height of its powers; and then Bulletin for the last 17 years, and each issue was put together by my it’s time for me to pass brother Andy and I the editorial mantle to after hours in his office a younger generation. The ponds on at the Financial Times As Membership where he worked at the Secretary Roger Cook Harpenden time. explains on page 22, Like most children following lengthy Common were of the 1950s whose discussions between fathers or grandfathers the OA Committee and our Normandy had fought in the the School over the Second World War, I last year or so, it has beaches and the was brought up on a been agreed that the diet of war stories that School Development fuelled our play. The gorse bushes our Office will take over ponds on Harpenden responsibility for Burmese jungles Common were our producing the alumni Normandy beaches magazine in future. and the gorse bushes My first issue was published in on the golf course our Burmese May 2000. The other notable events jungles. In my time as editor I was in that month were the release of therefore always fascinated by the the multiple Oscar-winning movie moving contributions from OAs Gladiator and, at the opposite end who had done their bit for king and of the enjoyment spectrum, the country to protect the freedoms we election of Ken Livingstone as all enjoy today. One that sticks in Mayor of London. In those quaint my mind was a chillingly matterold days, the production process of-fact account of the disastrous was largely manual as most of the commando raid on Dieppe in 1942. contributors had yet to emerge Speeding in on the landing craft, the


Founders’ Day – Saturday 1st July 2017 3



Nick Chappin Editor Andy Chappin Design & Production Printing

President’s Notes author was forced to wipe his face 1963) also writes of his long and as the brains of the Canadian pilot, successful career as an RAF pilot head blown off by a cannon shell, (page 35). exploded over him. Subsequently We have lost several of our fellow captured by the Germans, he was former pupils over the past few to spend the remainder of the war months, and I noted with particular in a number of increasingly brutal sadness the passing of OA stalwart POW camps as each escape attempt Nigel Cartwright earlier this was punished by a move to an even year. When I made my OA debut harsher regime. This for the 6th XV as a was just one of the nervous 16 year-old When I made countless contributions in 1973, Nigel was from all branches of still plying his trade my OA debut the service, covering all as enthusiastically as the major conflicts of ever in the lower sides. for the 6th XV the 20th century. Sadly, As I stood patiently as their numbers have at fly-half awaiting a as a nervous 16 dwindled, so too have sniff of the ball, my the contributions. abiding memory is year-old in 1973, In this issue, we his enormous Eighth celebrate the short life Army-style shorts, of an OA who made Nigel was still which despite their size the ultimate sacrifice were unable to mask plying his trade in the Great War. a terrifyingly deep On 11th November display of bum crack as enthusiastically 1916, Lt Arthur he lumbered in to hit Skett of the West the rucks and mauls. Yorkshire Regiment If I may end on a was shot dead on the Somme. A personal note, it has been an honour hundred years to the day later, and privilege to edit the OA Bulletin the School gathered for its annual for so many years, and I extend my Act of Remembrance which was thanks to all the contributors over attended by Skett’s nephew Peter the years who have helped make the Jeanneret (OA 1965). The text of the magazine – hopefully – an enjoyable Headmaster’s address is reproduced read. My time is up, but as Maximus below, and Peter has kindly provided said in Gladiator: “Are you not an account of his successful naval entertained?” career (page 37). Continuing the Nick Chappin (75) military theme, Rodney King (OA Editor

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Please send your contributions to: Nick Chappin, Editor Post: 18 The Pleasance, Harpenden, Herts AL5 3NA Email:

Fireworks and fundraising n As the Old Albanian Club continues to flourish, Mike Hodge reflects on a busy few months as President

Every time I sit down at a table top spread with notes, I find it difficult not to make my notes read like a diary of events. But it does seem the only way to bring some sort of rambling order to my thoughts. And this Bulletin goes back in time to the beginning of November last year so there has been, as usual, a great many events on which to report. I start, a bit unusually, with the OA Fireworks, which not surprisingly, were let off at the beginning of November. If you have not witnessed this amazing spectacle, it is certainly time you did so! Last year’s display was attended by over 1,000 people, including many children. We are always blessed with a clear night and the view from the Woollams balcony is fantastic. The fireworks lasted the best part of half an hour and the display is nothing short of brilliant. And it is set to some most appropriate music. So check the OA website and get your tickets for this year in plenty of time. On Friday 11th November, I attended a most moving and emotional Remembrance Day service in the Abbey. The Headmaster delivered a wonderful tribute to Arthur Skett, a 19 year-old St Albans schoolboy who had signed up (under age) and lost his life at the Somme exactly 100 years previously (see page 13). Sitting next to me in the Abbey was one of my school contemporaries, Peter Jeanneret, who is

Arthur Skett’s nephew. After the service, Peter presented his uncle’s sword to the School archives. The service included some wonderful music and a reading of the names of the 240 St Albans schoolboys who were killed in the two World Wars. A very thought-provoking list. We gathered around the School memorial at the end of the service and a Lower Sixth Former played “The Last Post” absolutely faultlessly. The service was a marvellous testament to the pupils and staff at the School. On a much lighter note, the School’s performance of Wendy and Peter Pan was a splendid affair. The acting was exceptional – especially a particularly “dark” Captain Hook and his sidekick. School plays have come a very long way since my days in the Sixth Form in the mid-1960s! There were some very talented actors in this production with clearly a bright future “treading the boards”. The proposed creation of the school’s new Arts and Drama Centre will be of great value to the up and coming thespians. Due to an unfortunate clash of dates, I was unable to attend the School Carol concert. My predecessor, Alan Philpott, attended in my place and I am told the music and singing was up to the usual very high standard. I already have this year’s date (Wednesday 13th December at 19.30) in my diary so I will be there. At the end of March I attended the School’s Sports Tours Fundraising Dinner at the School Pavilion at Woollams. I would guess there must have been over 200 folk attending and I imagine a good deal of money was raised to help the future of School Sports Tours abroad. We were entertained by Roger Dakin (ex



Great Britain hockey goalkeeper), Sir Clive Woodward (rugby, as you all know) and Chris Cowdrey (Kent and England cricket). Roger Dakin made us all laugh and ran the auction brilliantly. Sir Clive gave us all some thoughts about motivation and teamwork. Chris Cowdrey told us stories about being England cricket captain in a delightfully self-deprecating way. An excellent evening all round. In mid-April, the School’s Alumni and Relations Development Team arranged the OA London Drinks Party at the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair and what a wonderful social event that was. There was the best part of 100 of us ranging from 1958 to 2015 leaving years. There were 17 from the leaving year of 2012 and, judging by the noise, it was a huge success. It is events like this which are so important to the wellbeing of the OA Club. I spoke to quite a few of the (much) younger generation – they are, rightfully, very proud of their School and the direction that their education has given them. My heartfelt thanks to Kate Gray, Chris Harbour and Sarah Osborne (the Alumni Team) for giving us the opportunity to attend and

Resurrected: the OA Football Club current squad


relish the event. So – now on to some OA matters. We were all very sad to lose Nigel Cartwright early in the New Year. Nigel was heart and soul (and more), an Old Albanian. The word “legend” can be over-used but Nigel was the epitome of that word. There are tributes to him later in this Bulletin (see page 24) so I will let someone else write better words than I can manage. Nigel’s Service of Thanksgiving was in St Nicholas’ Church in Harpenden in February. There were plenty of OA blazers and some sensational singing – the minister who conducted the service said she had never heard such wonderful singing in her church! Nigel would have loved it. As you will read in the sports section of this Bulletin, the OA Rugby Club continues to hold its own in some very exalted company. We have ended up midtable in National League Division One; we have a new coach and some new players for next season. If you have not had a chance to come and see some flowing and exciting rugby, come along to Woollams next season and meet some OAs! In March, there was an OA “Past Players” lunch which was brilliantly organised by Smiler (Ian Haywood). There were 130 part players there (including me as I featured for the Extra Bs in the late 1960s). A really great event. The various OA Sports Clubs are all reported later in the Bulletin. Suffice it to say that they are all in very good heart but could always do with more members. A recent addition to our range of OA sports is the OA Football Club, which has been resurrected by Nick Jackson (OA 2005). Nick’s report is on page 50. I would ask


Hooked: the School’s production of Wendy and Peter Pan

you to drop him an e-mail if you are keen to play. I played in the first 2017 meeting of the OA Golf Society at Sandy Lodge at the end of March. Excellently organised by Peter Dredge (how many years’ service has he done?) and Captained by Graham Tate. It was a beautiful day on a stunning course. In my team of three was Mike Crowston, who was in the year below me at School. He lost an arm due to a rugby injury whilst at School and now plays golf with one arm. It was a most humbling experience to play with Mike who has a beautiful rhythmic swing. And great company! Our other team member was Peter Dew (my year at School) who was a scratch golfer whilst at School. Suffice it to say that we won the team prize as Mike gave us the rhythm and I was coached round by Peter! As I have said in previous notes, my main sport since leaving School has been hockey. It is a shame that we do not have an OA Hockey Club, as it would complete the set. However, I can report that we do have an OA Hockey Club – of sorts – only we play golf now! After I left School in 1965, I took my old 1st XI back to play the School for some 30 years. When Mike Highstead retired from the School, we retired from hockey – though we played a few matches against St Albans Hockey

Club. That is all over and we now have an annual Golf Day which is planned for the end of June. So we have a hockey club but it plays golf! In summary (and thank you for reading all this), the OAs continue to flourish. Much of this is due to the immense hard work of the Operations Board at the Club who keep our finances on the level. There are many people to thank but it would sound like an Oscar speech – so I thank you all! But most of all I thank Nick and Andy Chappin who have put together the OA Bulletin for nearly 20 years. Their hard work and dedication to the cause has been quite extraordinary. We have agreed that it is time, now, for a change. The School will now take on the OA Bulletin and it will be put together by the Alumni Team (see page 22). There is a lot of sense in this more because the School and the Old Albanians are, effectively and practically, one unit. I would ask all OAs to keep in touch and if any of you readers have any desire to pen an article, don’t be shy in coming forward! I wish you all the best for the summer and I will be back in November. We have an interesting summer of politics ahead! Mike Hodge President




Headmaster’s Notes

Building futures n Jonathan Gillespie reports on another term of all-round success for the School as it continues its quest to develop world-class educational facilities

Now that the Summer Term is well underway it is a pleasure to write to you with the latest news from the School. The fine weather over Easter has helped the Woollams groundstaff produce excellent early-season wickets: three pupils have scored hundreds in April, the first coming from the 1st XI Captain, Charlie Scott, who led from the front in a comprehensive victory over Watford Grammar School on the opening Saturday of the season. Turning my mind to writing this update took me back to the Autumn edition of the OA Bulletin, which featured on its front cover a photograph of a reflective Fourth Former at a War Memorial during the History Department’s annual World War One Battlefields Trip in October. Shortly after their return the School gathered for its annual Act of Remembrance. During the Service in the Abbey I spoke about an OA, 2Lt Arthur Skett, who was killed on the Western Front on 11th November 1916, one hundred years ago to the very day. To add to the remarkable poignancy of the occasion, Peter Jeanneret OA, Arthur Skett’s nephew, was present, bringing with him Arthur’s sword which he kindly loaned to the School Museum. The text of my address is included below. There is much good news to report about successes and achievements since my last article for the OA Bulletin.


As many OAs will know, the School has a proud track record of success in Mathematics Challenges which has been further enhanced this year under Ian Charlesworth’s guidance: in the Senior Challenge 14 Gold, 28 Silver and 26 Bronze awards were achieved with several also gaining qualification for the Kangaroo (a European version of the challenge) and for the very prestigious British Mathematical Olympiad. Our top-performer in the Olympiad, Fifth Former Thomas Hillman, has been selected by the UK Mathematics Trust to attend a residential summer school at The Queen’s College, Oxford. In the Intermediate Challenge 43 Gold, 58 Silver and 57 Bronze awards were achieved with several qualifying for the Olympiad stage. This is a very demanding test with six questions that require fully-argued written solutions. With such difficult problems, Merits are awarded to anyone earning full marks on one question, and this was achieved by all four of our candidates. Thomas Hillman went much further with the extraordinary achievement of securing full marks on all six questions, which meant that he was placed first equal across all the candidates. Not to be outdone the Biology, Chemistry and Physics Departments have also enjoyed significant success in their respective Olympiads. Sporting highlights have been many and varied so far this year. The 1st XV Rugby secured some good wins during their season which culminated in a pulsating Hertfordshire Cup Final in which we lost out to the strong favourites, Haileybury, by just three points. The U15A team reached the semi-final stage of the national DM Cup competition, losing to St Paul’s by one

Cross Country champions: the Junior Team won the South East Schools’ title score after having valiantly fought their way back from being 17-3 down. In Hockey the most notable of several good wins for the 1st XI was a 5-0 victory against Watford Grammar School. The side retained the winners’ shield at the St Albans Hockey Club U18 tournament with the U14s winning this year’s inaugural competition for their age group. In Cross Country our Junior Team won the South East Schools’ title and the Intermediate team qualified for English Schools’ Cup Final in December. At the King Henry VIII School Relays, a race widely regarded as a schools’ National Championships, our young team had a lot resting on their shoulders, but responded well with some excellent team running and a captain’s leg from Ben Clarke. This saw them home in fifth place overall out of 51 teams competing, several places higher than anticipated this year and showing great potential for the future whilst preserving our impressive record: we have not finished lower than sixth in

the past 20 years. Our Junior Swimming Team won the Hertfordshire League trophy for the second year running and our Intermediates won the Improvers’ Trophy. In Shooting we retained the Hertfordshire Schools’ Trophy for the seventh consecutive year with our B team pipping our A team by one point. In Skiing our U16s won Gold at the at the Eastern Region Schools’ Finals. There have been pleasing developments in both strength and depth in Netball and Lacrosse this year with some notable scorelines, for example the 13-1 win over Oakham at Lacrosse. Notable sporting distinctions have been achieved by a number of pupils: Rebecca Parlour (U19 Wales Lacrosse), Cameron Furley (U16 Scotland Rugby), Greg Hurley (7th place in the European Junior Open Golf Championship) and Luca Stubbs and Alex Harris (County Champions in Cross Country in their respective age groups). Individual successes of note have been



Drama highlight: the School’s production of Wendy and Peter Pan drew praise achieved in many other areas of school life. At Model United Nations conferences several pupils have been commended or highly commended and one, Ciaran Reed of the Fifth Form, received the best delegate award (only the second time a St Albans School pupil has achieved this); Lower Sixth Former Hugo Clark has been awarded a Scholarship by the Arkwright Trust; CCF cadets have passed Army leadership courses with flying colours; in Music there have been several successes with Grade 8 and ABRSM Performance Diplomas, Thomas Hillman retained his place in the National Youth Orchestra and Fourth Former JJ Wallace was one of the ten national finalists of the National Young Drummer of the Year competition. The Joint Schools’ Concert in March saw a splendid performance of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, and the many other concerts throughout the year have featured an eclectic mix of musical


genres, ensembles and soloists which speak volumes about the current strength of Music at the School under Mr Stout’s leadership. In Drama, this year’s highlights include memorable productions of Wendy and Peter Pan (the main school production in November) and of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Shakespeare Schools Festival held at the Abbey Theatre. At the Sports Tours’ Dinner in March we were honoured to hear from Guest of Honour, Sir Clive Woodward, and Principal Guest, Chris Cowdrey. This summer a tour group comprising U17 and U15 rugby sides is heading to South America. In preparation for this and in addition to their own fundraising the boys raised over £5, 500 for a rugby development programme in Rio de Janeiro by playing touch rugby for 24 hours in the Sports Hall. Quite remarkably the score at the end of this marathon was a draw with each team scoring 1460 tries! This year’s Charity Prefects have been enterprising in organising a range


of enjoyable events and the School’s enthusiastic and generous response stands as a clear example of our modernday motto, non nobis nati, enabling us to support a wide range of good causes including the Salvation Army Shoebox Appeal at Christmas, the Teenage Cancer Trust, Herts Refugees, Riding for the Disabled, Duchene Now, World Aids Day and Centre 33. School holidays have seen many trips taking place with groups visiting Greece, the WW1 Battlefields of Northern France, Jersey (shooting), British Columbia (skiing), Cologne, Usingen, Chambéry, Normandy, Seville and Grenada in addition to destinations within the United Kingdom. The October, February and April breaks have enabled the support staff to be busy on campus with a number of projects, the most tangible of which are the refurbishment of Geography classrooms and Physics laboratories. Significant work

has also been going on behind the scenes upgrading our IT infrastructure. The School has submitted a revised planning application for the construction of the new Mathematics Faculty building: this takes account of the feedback on the original application, including the reasons for which St Albans City and District Council’s Planning Department rejected it. The Mathematics Faculty forms one part of our Building Futures campaign that has already attracted substantial support since its launch to parents and OAs for which we are most grateful and which we are working hard to add to. Further information about the Building Futures campaign and its component projects are to be found in the Foundation section of our website at Building-Futures. It is always a pleasure to welcome OAs back to the School. In recent months we have been grateful in particular to

Classic adventure: the trip to Greece to visit the ancient artefacts



Welcome return: Larry Elliott OA Major Adam Shindler (2002) who was the Reviewing Officer at the CCF Annual Inspection in March; Larry Elliott (1973), Economics Editor of The Guardian, for addressing the Economics Society; Professor Tim Blackburn (1984), Professor of Invasion Biology, Genetics, Evolution & Environment at UCL, and Dr Tim Utteridge (1988), Head of Identification & Naming Department, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, both of whom have addressed the Stephen Hawking Society; Carrie Preston (1997), Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Ernst and Young, who gave a talk to the Diversity Society; and Tamim Bayoumi (1977), Deputy Director of the IMF, who spoke to the Economics Society by live video link from the USA. Later this term we look forward to welcoming back Sir Martin Smith (1960) who will deliver a key-note address about ‘Opportunities in Tomorrow’s World’ and the Rev Philip Harbridge (1984) who will preach on Founders’ Day. We have been pleased to support the recently-formed OA Football Club with playing facilities at Woollams and to see their successes so far: OAs who


may be interested in joining should contact the School’s Development Office at development@st-albans.herts.sch. uk. Likewise, any OAs who are interested in playing cricket against the 1st XI on Founders’ Day (Saturday 1st July) are asked to make themselves known to the Development Office. There are a number of colleagues to whom we say farewell at the end of this term: of particular note are Mr Tim Martin and Mrs Dorothy Percival who are retiring after 36 and 27 years here respectively. I am sure that the many OAs who have benefitted from their outstanding teaching and guidance over the years will wish to join me in warm appreciation of their loyal and distinguished service to the School and in wishing them good health and every happiness in retirement. My articles for the OA Bulletin can but give you a flavour of the vibrancy of School life, and I hope that our website and other digital media help to keep you updated with School news. At the time of writing our new website is nearing completion and will have been launched by the time you read this. I look forward to sharing the stage with your President once again in late June as we bid farewell to this year’s Leavers and he welcomes them as members of the OA Club. Once again, this year our Upper Sixth Formers have been in strong demand at the most selective universities and we look forward to celebrating their successes in August. In the meantime, I send you all warm greetings from the School together with my grateful thanks for all the support that OAs give us. Jonathan Gillespie Headmaster


Act of Remembrance n The full text of Jonathan Gillespie’s address on Friday 11th November 2016

I begin by extending to our guests, who include OAs and family members of OAs whose names are recorded on our Roll of Honour, a very warm welcome to our annual Service of Remembrance, this uniquely solemn and poignant occasion of the School year. On 1st July this year Mr ForbesWhitehead led our Abbey Assembly to mark the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme. Allied artillery had pounded German lines for a week before the attack firing 1.6 million shells. British commanders were so convinced of the destructive success of this bombardment that they ordered their troops to walk towards the German lines. Yet the German machine guns opened fire as the British began their advance, and by the end of what was the worst day of losses in the history of the British Army, the 11 divisions of Britain’s new volunteer army had suffered 60,000 casualties of whom one third were dead. The next two months saw bloody stalemate with the Allies gaining little ground. Torrential rains in October turned the battlefields into a muddy quagmire and the battle ended in mid-November with the Allies having advanced only five miles. The British had suffered a total of 420,000 casualties, the French 195,000 and the Germans around 650,000. Every inch advanced cost two British lives. In November 1916 2Lt Arthur Skett of the West Yorkshire Regiment found himself back on the Somme after a week’s

leave at home. He had left St Albans School in July 1914, having enjoyed success here in his academic work (French in particular), as a keen actor in school productions and as a member of the School’s Officer Training Corps, the precursor of the modern-day Combined Cadet Force. After leaving school he obtained a commission from the School OTC, serving initially with a reserve battalion and then training at Sandhurst, transferring to the Royal Flying Corps. He went to France in May 1916, later re-joining the West Yorkshire Regiment to fill the gaps in their ranks caused by significant losses sustained in the second Somme offensive. Arthur Skett, a 19 year-old junior officer, found himself in November 1916 commanding a company of his battalion, an appointment reserved in usual times for officers many years his senior in age, experience and rank. After 72 hours at the front, his weary battalion had been enjoying the relative comfort of time out of the front line. An hour or so before



dusk on 10th November 1916 Arthur Skett, together with his second in command and one other junior officer, prepared to lead his company as they started on their way back to the front line. Through the mud, darkness and confusion of the featureless battlefield it would take them seven hours to reach the front line, having lost three men on the way to enemy shelling. The front line position they now occupied had been taken only two nights previously: the situation was still obscure, and Skett’s company’s position was not immediately connected to the units on either their left or their right. The line was on the near slope of a low ridge, limiting direct observation of the ground ahead to some 50 yards. Skett’s orders were for his company to sap out from this trench to the crest of the ridge in front in order to command the valley beyond and prevent the enemy from massing unseen. One of Skett’s company officers, Victor Pimm, was leading out a party to provide cover for this work when they were fired upon. Pimm ordered his men to get back: the men tumbled back into the trench in considerable confusion but Pimm was not with them. A patrol which was sent out straight away found a rifle dropped by one of the party near where they came under fire but no other trace of Pimm. Skett sent out a second patrol under a Senior NCO and then a third and still stronger party, but to no avail: Pimm was still unaccounted for. So here was Skett’s dilemma: an officer under his command was missing. He might have been captured or killed. He might be lying in No Man’s Land wounded and dying. In sending out three patrols, he had already taken prompt action. He had


not sent out a patrol under the command of an officer and for good reason, for there was no officer to send. As Company Commander he was not permitted to do this himself: he was required to stay in a position to command his company. Nevertheless it was his Battalion’s proudest boast that no party of men would be sent out into the dangerous uncertainty of No Man’s Land without an officer if any officer was to be found. This boast had in its foundation an extremely sound estimate of human nature: the Battalion’s morale was due as much to this as it was to the unwritten understanding that any man who went out into No Man’s Land should come in again dead or alive. Arthur Skett weighed up the situation and the respective merits of different courses of action and made his decision. On 11th November 1916, one hundred years ago today, the 19 year-old 2Lt Arthur Skett OA, a Company Commander of the West Yorkshire Regiment, was shot dead in No Man’s Land making his way to the spot where his brother officer had disappeared. An account of that fateful night concludes: “We buried him before daylight as reverently as we could in the circumstances, digging a grave between bursts of machine-gun fire, in the parados of Fall Trench”. What better example could there be in Arthur Skett’s self-sacrifice that night of the words of St John: Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends? And what better example could there be of the School’s modern-day motto: non nobis nati? As we remember Arthur Skett on the centenary of his death together with the other 87 Old Albanian casualties of the


Paying respect: the Act of Rembrance at the School’s War memorial

First World War and the 104 OA dead of the Second World War, we are honoured to have as one of our guests this morning on a particularly poignant date for his family an OA, Peter Jeanneret. Mr Jeanneret is the nephew of Arthur Skett. In preparing for our Act of Remembrance at the War Memorial which follows the reading of the School’s Roll of Honour as we leave the Abbey to make our way to assemble in the Upper Yard, we give thanks for the example of service of all Old Albanians who have served in the Armed Forces, and in particular we honour those who left here, never to return; those whose remains make some corner of a foreign field… forever England. They may have lived in a different age, but they were all in their time young people like you, sat where you are sat this morning with similar hopes and ambitions to yours. On this day of sombre reflection I urge you to view the poppy you are wearing, and the ones that form the wreaths that will shortly be laid at the War Memorial on our behalves, not just as symbols of passive remembrance but also as a commitment to future action for the greater good of your fellow men and women. Commit yourselves to fight, metaphorically, for the values

that those whom we remember today gave their lives to protect – liberty, democracy, justice, the rule of law, the triumph of good over evil. Those values, and the importance of upholding them, are just as significant to all of us today as they once were to those who have gone before us in this place. And I ask you to demonstrate that commitment in making a resounding response to Binyon’s words of remembrance in which the Head of School will lead us after the singing of the National Anthem later in this service: we will remember them. I conclude this address by quoting the famous words from the Book of Ecclesiasticus, thereby renewing the School’s commitment to the memory of our Old Albanian war dead in the knowledge of the truth of the final line: Their seed standeth fast, and their children for their sakes. Their seed shall remain for ever, and their glory shall not be blotted out. Their bodies are buried in peace, but their name liveth for evermore. Amen. This address draws heavily on the letter of Matthew McConville MC DFC sent to Arthur Skett’s family as published by John Insomuch in ‘The Life and Death of Arthur Skett’.






OA Lodge

“Masonry is fun!”

1981 to 1988. Alistair is not academically n OA Lodge Assistant Secretary inclined, however he studied law at John Williams reports on the latest the University of Luton as a mature news, and looks back on 20 years of student in 1998. He has had a varied providing Lodge entries for the OA career – supermarket management, Bulletin transport industry manager and owned and ran his own computer The Lodge year commenced at the business from 1997 to 2009. He Installation meeting on 13th May is now a property developer and when the outgoing Master of the residential landlord. Lodge, Alex Bain-Stewart installed He was proposed into Old the Master Elect, Alistair Cooper Albanian Lodge by Colin Harris and as the 90th Master of the Lodge. Ian Parker (who taught him A-level The new Master will then appoint Economics at School). Alistair was a his officers for the coming year. Labour councillor in St Albans from Alex will be a hard act to follow; 1997 to 2005, chairing the Planning his year having been notable Committee from 2002 to 2004. for the excellence of the ritual He now also works as a charity and the ceremonies conducted. volunteer for the local homeless Although Alex was already a ‘Past drop-in centre, Centre 33 opposite Master’, having been initiated into the School, cooking breakfasts for Freemasonry in January 1996 into the vulnerable and is also a regular Farringdon-Without Lodge no.1745 in supporter of the RSPCA and other the City, due to a lack of candidates animal charities. in that Lodge during his year as Alistair is a passionate and Master he had not been able to committed Freemason. He is a conduct any ceremonies. member of two other Craft Lodges, The incoming Master Elect, the OA Chapter and the Scholars in Alistair, was initiated into Harrow Amity and Debenham Mark Lodges. St Pauls Lodge, and He is a keen (but joined the OA Lodge fair weather) cyclist. in 2010. Alistair was Alistair also delights in born in Harpenden in travelling to unpopular 1970, his father was parts including eastern initially a cabinet countries such as maker and later Transdinistria and managed a restaurant. Moldova. He says that After Roundwood Park one of his ambitions is and Crabtree primary to visit every country schools he attended Incoming Master Elect on earth before being St Albans School from Alistair Cooper called to “Grand Lodge

Lunching in the Guildhall: A speech of welcome from our host, Alex BainStewart JP

above”. During a Master’s year in the chair, he will often try arrange an additional function for the members and their wives/partners. And this year in March, a number of us enjoyed celebrating Alex’s birthday by lunching in the members’ private dining room in the historic Guildhall in the City of London, courtesy of Alex’s father Alex Bain-Stewart JP, who is a council member. After lunch, Alex senior conducted the whole group on a guided tour of the Guildhall, which was fascinating. The Lodge is in good heart, with new members joining. Sadly, we recently learnt of the death of Brian Clay-Peters, a former Lodge and Chapter member, who was a wonderful ritualist. Brian resigned from the Lodge after suffering a serious stroke two or three years ago when he had to move into a care home. As you have read elsewhere, this is to be the last Bulletin in the present format. Having drafted

Lodge entries for some 20 years, I look back on previous efforts with nostalgia and also with a tinge of sadness. After joining an Old School Lodge, in which members share a common bond apart from Freemasonry, one progresses through the various offices, (always assuming one wishes to do so) getting to know well, and often to admire fellow members, and making lasting friendships. Inevitably, the senior members when one joins tend to be of an older generation and as the years go by many pass away. Where possible I have included mention in the Lodge entries of their passing and details of their lives. To mention only a few: Geoff Goodman, David Morgan, John Turner, Don Carnell, Cliff Wedgbury, Richard Wedgbury, Don Kiff, John Giffen, David Pitcher – the list goes on … and on. When one joins a Lodge, your name is at the bottom of the membership list on the Lodge Summons. As time goes on it can be rather disconcerting to suddenly




The installation meeting of the Old Albanian Lodge at Woollams, May 2003

realise that you are now much nearer the top than the bottom! Of my favourite Bulletin entries, those in October 2003 and May 2004 have to be in poll position. They both reported on the 75th anniversary Installation meeting of the Lodge when Steve Taylor was installed as Master and a new Lodge Banner was dedicated by the then Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Colin Harris. This meeting, which was held in the School pavilion at Woollams, was attended by about 170, with representatives from 21 School Lodges, all members of the Federation of School Lodges. Photographs were taken by Lodge member David Morgan, the School Architect and designer of the pavilion. In the May 2004 edition, I presented some extracts from the oration given by Geoff Goodman at the 75th anniversary meeting, which are too lengthy to include here in full – much as I would like to – but here is his conclusion: “Finally, may I ask your indulgence for a moment while I



make a personal observation? I am a joining member from a Lodge where masonry was a very serious business. Never a laugh or so much a smile during a Meeting was acceptable. My first and enduring impression of Old Albanian Lodge was one of happiness and fun. The atmosphere in this Lodge brought an entirely new dimension to my masonic life as I am sure it has to others, and taught me that while conducting the formal part of our proceedings with precision and dignity, we can also enjoy ourselves to the full. Above all, I learned that MASONRY IS FUN, and long may this Lodge prosper to develop that principle. And so, in celebrating 75 successful years, we look forward with enthusiasm and anticipation to the next landmark, our Centenary, which is already booked for the first Saturday in September 2028. (before you ask, at 3.00 pm!!). On that date we shall host the Annual Festival of The Federation of School Lodges. Such is his confidence in the future that our new Master is today launching a Centenary Fund.

He invites you to share in his confidence by putting down a £10 note, which will cover your dining fee on that occasion, but regretfully no refund can be made should you fail to make it! I advise you to book now – accommodation will be limited! It is a fascinating thought that those who are to follow us may well look back on this day, 10th May 2003 and with grateful affection remember the foresight of the members who attended the SeventyFifth Celebration. As a peppery old 95-year old, I hope to see you in September 2028, if not in person, in spirit!” Other favourite Lodge entries in

the Bulletin include those in the October 2005 and May 2006 editions. I reported on the Lodge visit to the historic city of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia which took place that Easter and was largely organised by my wife who, although born in England, has dual British/Estonian nationality. “Most of the party, including wives and friends, 38 in all, travelled out very early on Easter Monday. On the Monday evening Lodge members attended a most interesting meeting of Hermes Lodge No 5, entirely conducted in Estonian and attended by the Grand Master of Estonia, which met in the complex originally built to cater for yachting when the Soviet Union hosted the

The Orthodox Cathedral, Tallinn, Estonia




Membership Secretary’s Notes St Albans Abbey

Signing off… n In his last set of notes, Roger Cook looks back over his time as Membership Secretary as the School takes over responsibility for producing and distributing the OA Bulletin

Olympic Games. The following day we hired an English speaking guide who conducted us on a fascinating walking tour of the incredibly well preserved medieval city. On Wednesday we all dined together in the evening at the Old Hansa restaurant, serving medieval fare – no potatoes at all! Many of the party stayed on to attend the meeting of an Estonian Mark Masons Lodge on Thursday evening, returning on Friday. Altogether a great success and our Master elect is now believed to be planning a visit in his year – to Florence it is rumoured!” A reminder that there will be a Service of Thanksgiving next month at the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Albans on Sunday 18th June 18. This will follow the format of the very popular bi-annual services where members of the Province, with their friends and families, can join the Provincial Grand Master, his Executive, and the Dean of Saint Albans in a Service of Thanksgiving for the preservation of the United



Grand Lodge of England and Freemasonry over the last 300 years. A Thanksgiving Service in the Abbey on 18th June will mark 300 years of the United Grand Lodge of England. The Lodge meets only five times a year on the second Saturdays in January, March, May and September and the first Saturday in November. All those connected with the School, including fathers of past or present pupils are welcome to apply for membership, for which purpose the first approach should be to any Lodge member, the Assistant Secretary as below; or Nigel WoodSmith or Mark Pedroz at the School. Members of other Lodges, be they OAs, parents of past or present pupils, staff or Governors are encouraged to visit the Lodge whenever they wish, and the Secretary or Assistant Secretary will be delighted to hear from them. John Williams Lodge Assistant Secretary

If my memory is correct, when I joined the school in 1937, OA matters were covered in a section of the School magazine, The Albanian. I am not sure when I started as the Membership Secretary – I think it was the year that Andrew Grant arrived. I was given about 1,000 names and addresses and set about creating a database. Membership of the OA club required a subscription. For the first few years I addressed and posted about 1,500 copies of the Bulletin (no websites then!). I had

found the addresses of some OAs to add to the database. The breakthrough came when the School established a Development Office. The School and the Old Albanian Club arranged that all School leavers became automatic life members of the OA Club. Kate Le Seuer set up the first School website and database; she more than doubled the names on our joint databases. The Bulletin was put online and today we send a little over 200 by post. The School database now has 7,850 names and addresses. Congratulations to Chris Harbour and his team for their enthusiasm and best wishes for the future success of the OA Bulletin. Roger Cook Membership Secretary

Old Albanian Blazers l As usual, we maintain a stock of the OA blazers in the shop at Woollams and the price is still £120.00. These are quite unique and many members wear them with pride at OA events at Woollams and away fixtures. They are also popular with members around the world and are worn as “smart casual” at many different types of occasion. The shop is open on 1st XV home match days but if you are interested and are unable to visit the shop, we can offer mail order at a UK mainland surcharge of £12.50, overseas mail cost on application. The sizes in stock will change, of course, and we can only afford to hold a limited number of sizes but if you would like to email your jacket size and fit (short, regular, long) we will let you know if we have stock. Where we do not have your size, we will look at adding it to the next manufacturing run. For stock, ordering and payment details, please e-mail the Club Secretary, David Buxton, at If you already have a blazer, why not e-mail in a photo of you wearing it at an event other than those held at Woollams that we can publish in the Bulletin – especially those members overseas? Ladies’ blazers are also now available.




School Development Office

News Update Golden Jubilee Reunion 1967 We are delighted to be welcoming back the Class of 1967 and 1974 on Friday 16th June for their Golden Jubilee Reunion. It will be 50 years since the former left the School and 50 years since the latter started. The day will consist of coffee and School tours followed by a chance to socialise and reminisce over an informal lunch at Woollams. If you are from the Class of ‘67 or ‘74 and would like to come, you are welcome to attend the reunion for either of the tours, the coffee at the School and/or the lunch at Woollams. This event is free of charge and you are welcome to bring a guest. Art, Design and Technology Exhibition We are very excited to offer OAs the opportunity to attend the Art, Design and Technology’s Summer Exhibition on Tuesday 27th June from 6.30-8.30 pm. The exhibition, within the Art Department, will feature selected GCSE and A Level coursework from our talented students throughout the year. Finished practical pieces, including painting, sculpture and drawing will be on display along with the students’ design folios which show the design, development and planning work completed leading up to the production of the final piece, along with evaluations of the



outcome. Tickets are free and can be booked via OA Connect. Founders’ Day – Saturday 1st July You are warmly invited to this year’s Founders’ Day Service on Saturday 1st July. The Gaudy Reunion years is for OAs who left School between 1997 and 2007. We hope to gather as many from each individual year group as possible to catch up, reminisce, and see how the School has changed since you left. Founders’ Day will follow the usual form of the traditional Abbey Service at 10.45am (guests to be seated by 10.30am), followed by a drinks reception. There will be a lunch served in the Refectory for Gaudy guests, followed by a tour of the School, including the Sports Centre and Aquis Court, for those who wish to look around. Weather permitting, there will be sporting activities continuing throughout the afternoon at the Woollams Playing Fields, at which everyone is welcome. A BBQ and cash bar will also be available. Chris Harbour

The OA Bulletin n The OA Committee has, during the last year, been reviewing the future of this publication

We believe the OA Bulletin is an essential factor in enabling OAs to remain in contact with each other and with the School. We are

all greatly indebted to the service that Nick and Andy Chappin have provided, using their professional skills in turning the OA Bulletin into the high quality publication that it is today. Originally a printed publication, most readers now view it via the School website. Regretfully, we cannot rely indefinitely on voluntary help. The School’s Development Office have for some time managed the majority of alumni relations for the OA community. They have offered, and we have agreed, that the School take responsibility for the OA Bulletin with effect from the next November

issue. Both the OA Committee and the School are committed to providing a quality publication for OAs, combining news from both the School and alumni community. Please do continue to send in your letters, news and announcements for inclusion – equally, we welcome feedback on what you would like from the new publication as it takes shape. We look forward, with confidence, to the continued success of the OA Bulletin. Roger Cook Membership Secretary

CCF Annual Inspection

Welcome back: Major Adam Shindler (OA 2002) who was the Reviewing Officer at the CCF Annual Inspection in March




De Fortunis Albanorum Deaths It is with regret that the following deaths are announced: l Frank Deamer (OA 1943) died in 2016. l Nigel Cartwright (OA 1945) died on 29th January 2017. Obituaries by his granddaughter and John Smith appear below. l Geoffrey Linton (OA 1945) died on 1st January 2017. l Gerald Wallington-Hayes MBE (OA 1948) died on 8th January 2017 at the age of 86. Following Sandhurst Military Academy, the Merchant Navy and Trinity House, he served as Mayor of Dovercourt and Harwich, Essex. Gerald was a prominent member of the local community, serving as a councillor for many years and awarded an MBE for his service to the community. He is survived by his wife of 64years, two children, four grandchildren, and one great grandchild. l Alan D Culley (OA 1950) passed away unexpectedly on 10th September 2016 whilst on holiday in Portugal. Always known as “Bill”, he always spoke with high regard of St Albans School and of his pride at having the opportunity to attend himself, by virtue of a scholarship. l K Dewick (OA 1953) died on 7th February 2017. His wife informed us of his passing.



l Michael J Bennett (OA 1956) died on 18th March 2017. l Hugh Stammers (OA 1957) died on 2nd August 2016. l David Connolly (OA 1958) died on 1st August 2016. l Richard Dunn (OA 1964) has died. We were informed of his passing by brother-in-law, Reverend Bob Bamberg (OA 1961). l Bruce Menzie (OA 1979) died in October 2016. Ian MacKenzie advised us of his passing. l Tony Vincent, former School Governor, died on 11th October 2016.

Obituary l Nigel Cartwright (OA 1945) Look up the star sign Scorpio and you’ll find passionate, intense, competitive and brave. And guess what – no surprise – Nigel was born under that sign on the 12th November 1927 in Greenwich, London – an only child to Doris and Basil Cartwright. Always outgoing and friendly, Nigel enjoyed close relations with his cousins Douglas, Cathleen, Joyce, Kitty and Peter, when he moved to St Albans from Barnes. During the Second World War, Nigel found himself fire-watching at St Albans Abbey and showed his psychic side by claiming to have seen a ghost.

Nigel Cartwright On graduating from St Albans School, Nigel did his National Service in Bangalore, India. He was very aware of the huge difference in comfort starting as a private on a troopship and, having been commissioned in India in 1947, returning as Second Lieutenant. Despite having ambitions to be a PE teacher, Nigel worked in sales at Chubb Export bringing in big contracts in Africa, in Nigeria and Kenya. Amiable and extravert, Nigel coined and adopted many of his own phrases that we in the family have enjoyed for decades. Nige has worked his way into the Cartwright/ Bird vernacular with ‘Jolly Good’, ‘played a blinder’, ‘Wait small’ having ‘Splodge’ aka breakfast and ‘Smashing Splondonks’. A big kid himself, Nigel was a supreme builder of sandcastles – the more elaborate the better – no one on the beach could boast more turrets, moats or windows than us. Whipsnade Zoo was always a

firm favourite with Nigel, although for some reason he could never cope with the monkeys’ bottoms. Naturally, as a keen sportsman, Nigel would energetically support family members of all ages in any sporting endeavour, be it netball, rounders, lacrosse, tiddlywinks or Mahjong. If it involved competition, he was there, fair days or foul. When away in Africa, in the days before the Internet and mobile phones, Nigel found his own way of communicating by captivating us with letters filled with pencil drawings of elephants, snakes and other animals he had seen. He could blow all the office dads out of the water! For all of Nigel’s rugby prowess and competitive spirit, he was always fair, gentle, loyal and kind. He made everyone welcome and could talk to anyone, prince or pauper. On meeting Barbara in 1971, on a blind date arranged by Rosie and Andy Barnes, Cupid’s arrow scored a direct hit and Nigel was smitten and has remained so throughout his life. Dancing was always a pleasure for them with Nigel proving to be a veritable twinkle toes – with mum often saying she knew how the rugby ball felt. They raised many funds together when they helped set up the Harpenden branch of the MacMillan Cancer Relief fund. They also enjoyed fine meals, music and had many happy times in the Cotswolds. Whenever out together, they always held hands.




Rugby and cricket were Nigel’s sporting passions and he was devoted to his School’s former pupils team, the Old Albanians. Reluctantly giving up playing rugby at the age of 45, having terrorised his opponents for decades, Nigel cheered on his team every home game right up until and including this year. Nigel passed his love of rugby to many a young man throughout his life with his enthusiastic coaching at St Albans School, including his grandson, Max, Sally and Paul’s youngest. According to Max, Nigel always made him try harder aware he was there spurring him on and knowing that he’d earned the pat on the back if he’d “played a blinder”. In the words of the current OA president, Richard Milnes: “The word legend is often overused in sport, but in the case of Nigel Cartwright, I can think of no other Old Albanian more deserving of the description.” John Smith writes: There have been many messages from OAs, other clubs and individuals with the same overriding message: here was a man whom it was impossible not to like and who left a mark wherever he went. Sometimes his mark was somewhat unintended as his nickname in his early years was ‘Carthorse’. In later years, this was to serve him well, especially on the rugger pitch. You will notice, some of you, that I have used the word rugger because that


was what we played in those early days. Without wishing to offend the present rugby lot the word conjures up a more relaxed approach but nevertheless competitive – back in Nigel’s years we probably had as many friends in the opponents’ clubs as in our own because the game then was in two halves – one on the pitch and the other in the bath and the bar long into the night. Hence the messages from other clubs. More of this later. What can we say of the “Legend”, as described by Richard Milnes. Holder of the King’s commission, Honorary Life Member of The Old Albanian Club, Honorary Life President of The OA Rugby Club, Honorary Life Member of The OA Cricket Club, Past Captain of Herts Rugby, Past Captain of The OA Rugby Club, straight as a die, kind, gentle (off the pitch – on the pitch if he went a bit far he would always apologise, even to the opposition), lead singer of rugger songs which if sung now in public would probably result in a life sentence, main sponsor official for the OA Rugby Club and The OA cricket Club well into his 80s, Chubb’s main man in Africa where it is rumoured he taught quite a few of locals some of the songs. To sum up then, a chap who you just had to like and one who wouldn’t let you down. From the stories about him that I and others have received I feel I must tell some of the more humorous aspects of this great man. In his day he was a daunting


archetypal second row forward – not large by today’s standards, but just bear in mind the famous England second row partnership the of Marques and Currie – the latter was only Nigel’s height 6ft 1. Several players of his day have come up with memories of his on-the pitch deafening instructions such as “spread – out – in – a bunch OAs”, or the one I like is “Die with it OAs” when they were near our line. You’d be sent off now if you did that. After he had given up he was a great supporter on the touchline and when we moved to Woollams on the balcony. In fact, he was there in his usual place just three or four weeks before his death. Perhaps we should put up a plaque in that spot. Of course, on the touchline at Beech Bottom, he was more often than not on the pitch. The Old Fullerians to this day claim that the inimitable pair of Morgan and Cartwright enabled the OAs to score a try in the bottom corner by shouting “well scored OAs” when we were at least five yards from the line. Although Nigel was not the greatest committee man he was always willing to do a job – be it fund raising with the Annual Bank Holiday Fete, which was very popular with the locals and enabled us to build the new pavilion at Beech Bottom. Nothing like the grandeur of Woollams. Woollams was, originally, a school house – a large building at the bottom of Holywell Hill and the proceeds of its sale bought all the land for our

Nigel watches the cricket with the late Ian McMillin

present pitches and the School’s. Nigel was proud of his school as we all are – I can’t remember his house – I think it was Debenhams or Pemberton. Anyway, back to the main theme – despite all the changes from his early days that the OAs went through, Nigel was committed to the club in its different guises and these included opening up the club to non-OAs in stages – Nigel wasn’t worried by this and welcomed town and gown alike. He became the main fund raiser for both the cricket and the rugby club. I seem to have concentrated too much on his rugby – as I said earlier he was honoured by OA Cricket – in fact in his cricket career he was the leading all-time wicket taker for the 2nd X1 and still remains in second place with 356. He played through five decades and as the citation for his Life Membership says he acted as their Commercial Manager working on the ground at Woollams on Wednesdays in the cricket changing room up until near the end. Just one final story that I like concerns his travelling in one of those old carriages up to St Pancras one day – where we all sat opposite each other with no corridor and




doors to the platform on both sides. He was moaning rather loudly – Nigel did not have a quiet voice – that he wasn’t going to be able to play rugger on that Saturday as he had been instructed to attend a wedding. This went on a bit with him making it plain that he wasn’t fancying the occasion too much and when they arrived at St Pancras a chap in the corner said to Nigel - I understand you won’t be coming to my daughter’s wedding on Saturday. I have absolutely no doubt that he apologised profusely. Nigel was a kind, gentle, amiable soul – a man’s man always willing to help and with a tremendous gift for making you feel welcome. I don’t think he would have wanted all this palaver but you don’t get many on this earth like him.

Looking back in Triumph n Car enthusiast Tim Hunt (OA 1964) celebrates 50 years of the Club Triumph Round Britain Reliability Run

My earliest recollection of the Triumph marque is of a TR2 on the Isle of Anglesey in the summer of 1954. I can still recall being taken by the rakish sporty lines, hardly surprising when the styling of most family saloons still owed much to pre-war designs. I had my first ride in a Triumph over 50 years ago. One day in


the summer of 1964, between A/S Levels and going up to Birmingham University to read Chemistry, a school chum, Michael Prior, pitched up at my home in Harpenden in his TR3A. I mentioned some great countryside not far from my future digs in Kings Heath and the decision was soon made to take a spin up there, stopping to pick up another school friend, Richard Rigby, en route to the M1. Mike’s TR did have what was laughably called the ‘optional rear seat’ but since we were all over six feet tall there was no leg room and the rear passenger had to adopt a foetal position across the rear seat cushion. We stopped at a service area on the M1 both ways so that the front and rear passengers could exchange places. Needless to say, there were no seat belts since the car was built before these were legally required. Our trip also predated the introduction of the 70mph maximum speed limit and I saw the magic three figures registered in overdrive top on more than one occasion. I loved the throaty exhaust note and the effortless performance. My late father was always a keen driver and, having had a succession of family saloons as company cars over the years, he promised himself something sporty on his retirement in 1970. A colleague had recently acquired a 1966 TR4A and father was so taken with it that he decided to have one. We eventually found the right car in September 1970 and the bonus was that it was the Surrey top version. This offers open-air


motoring on a good day while the optional steel hard top makes the car more like a fixed head coupé for the winter. We joined Club Triumph early in 1974 and heard of the Club’s Round Britain Reliability Run (RBRR) to take place that October. This involved a drive of 2,000 miles from London to John o’ Groats, Land’s End and back to London, starting on a Friday evening and finishing 48 hours later visiting various controls en route. The event was first run in October 1966 when six cars, representing every Triumph model then in production, successfully completed the Run. It was next staged in 1969 and then 1971, at which point it was decided to hold the run every two years. However, in 1973 the Club deemed it appropriate to postpone that year’s event as result of the oil crisis. The fourth RBRR was subsequently rescheduled for 1974 and the event has been held biennially ever since. I wanted to take part with dad but he declined since at 70 he felt it would not be fair to rely on me to do most of the driving, particularly at night. For the 1974 event another Club member stepped in to co-drive for me. That year, at the insistence of British Leyland supremo Donald Stokes, the Run started from the Head Office in Marylebone Road, hard to imagine in a current Friday evening’s rush hour traffic. However, in 1974 there were only twelve starters, a far cry from now. Memories of other participants are

hazy but I recall a yellow Dolomite Sprint factory entry and two very nice TR2s, one red with a hardtop the other British Racing Green with a tan soft top. Unfortunately the red car made it only as far as the Finchley Road before retiring with a failed half shaft, a known weakness on early TRs. The owner had his car recovered home and rejoined the event some hours later in his daily driver - not difficult as it was a three-litre Ford Capri. My clearest memory of that year’s event was the enthusiastic police escort that was arranged through Edinburgh to the Forth Road Bridge. At any red light the leading police car would pull halfway across the junction with blue light flashing and wave us through. My second RBRR, in 1978, started from and finished at Broadfields Garage, a BL dealer in Cockfosters, and we were to use this for the next six Runs. I teamed up with the late Paul Howell, owner of the green TR2 I had admired in 1974 although we used the 4A, more civilised and comfortable for a 48-hour event. Another consideration influencing the choice was that Paul was very keen on originality and insisted on keeping the original style headlights in his TR2. These were quite inadequate for the Round Britain, which involves two serious all night drives. Paul once owned 0VC 276, the very first ‘works’ TR2 which finished 7th in class on the 1954 Mille Miglia. This historic car is now





in the hands of a Belgian enthusiast. Our car ran faultlessly to John o’ Groats and down through the north of Scotland, but on the approach to the new Ballachulish Bridge over Loch Leven we heard a rattling noise from the top end. Vital signs were OK so we motored steadily on through Glen Coe but just past Bridge of Orchy the car started to overheat and this was accompanied by increased noise from the engine. We stopped to investigate and found the bearing on the new recently fitted water pump to be knackered. We were finished; I had no spare pump on board and no prospect of finding one on a Saturday evening in the Scottish Highlands. Another entrant kindly towed us to Tyndrum where we found a hotel for the night. Ever since that experience I have carried a spare water pump and gasket in the boot. I arranged recovery home by AA Relay. This was bit of a marathon involving five or so legs and my one clear abiding memory is of the over-enthusiastic AA driver getting his recovery vehicle, complete with my pride and joy on the back, almost sideways on a wet A82 by the side of Loch Lomond. I had noticed a leak from the water pump when checking the car prior to the event and had in fact changed the offending item. It was particularly galling to have the new pump fail and it was little consolation when the supplying BL dealer subsequently replaced the faulty item free of charge. In 1980 I teamed up with Mike

Hockaday, a friend from a local motor club who was to be my regular co-driver for the next 11 Runs. The Run passed without memorable incident. On to 1982 when, unfortunately, the gremlins struck again. I had the hammer down on the A30 on Bodmin Moor when I suddenly noticed falling oil pressure. I switched off immediately and coasted to a halt. Unfortunately, the damage was already done, the engine had spewed out all its oil from a failed oil cooler hose and the main bearings had run. A replacement steering rack had been fitted only the previous week by my local BL dealer when an oil cooler hose was carelessly routed and allowed to rub on the rack, eventually chafing through. The dealer very creditably admitted liability and rebuilt my engine at their expense, but once again it was small consolation to me for having failed to complete an RBRR for the second time through no fault of my own. The 1984 Run passed without incident, bringing us to 1986. This time, on leaving the Perth fuel halt in the early hours of Saturday morning, the ignition warning light came on. We were unable to find the cause but I had a well charged heavy duty battery and fortunately there was bright moonlight so we decided to press on, using dipped beam only and switching the headlights off whenever possible. We were relieved when dawn broke near Inverness and we reached John o’ Groats with no problem. There


The end result

we tinkered with the control box to no avail, although it seemed to be functioning correctly. Unfortunately, no one had a spare dynamo for us to try. Fortunately, the day was dry and clear so we were able to motor on using a minimum of electrical power. Soon after passing Bonar Bridge we noticed a couple of decrepit Land Rovers outside a garage in Ardgay. We pulled in and, as luck would have it, were allowed to remove a scruffy looking dynamo from one of these vehicles. We fitted it to the TR and, hey-presto, we were charging again! We left our original dynamo as an exchange and went on our way much relieved. Unfortunately, after some hundred miles or so the replacement dynamo gave up the ghost. I guess having spent a quiet life in a Land Rover it was not used to occasional excursions to 5000+ rpm. When we reached the Morrisons garage control in Stirling we stripped the dynamo on a workbench but were unable to find the problem. We faced a long drive through the night with a battery that must soon go flat and it was at this point that another entrant came to our rescue. He very

kindly shepherded us for the rest of the Run and we simply swapped batteries each time ours was close to becoming discharged. Mike and I completed the 1988 Run with no problems. For 1990 the organiser and Club Secretary Derek Pollock decided to introduce a charitable element. All drivers were invited to seek sponsorship and on this occasion £13,500 was raised for the British Heart Foundation, our chosen charity. We have supported a similar good cause on every RBRR since. The 1990 and 1992 Runs were completed without incident, again with Mike co-driving. For 1994 we moved our start/finish to The Plough, Crews Hill, which offered the very large car park needed to accommodate the swelling number of entries attracted by the Round Britain and we were to use this venue for the next ten Runs. On this event there were roadworks on the A1 near Norman Cross and we made a detour on to minor roads to avoid the consequent long delays. With Mike driving we were travelling at a good pace, fortunately on a straight stretch of road, when suddenly we lost the headlights





completely. It was drizzling at the time and there was no moonlight but an on-coming car provided some illumination and Mike was able to pull safely to a halt. By good fortune two other crews, who just happened to have taken the same detour, turned up a few minutes after we had stopped. We still had sidelights and by driving between the two cars we managed to get to Blyth services where we could work on the car in good light. The light switch had burned out and we jury-rigged wiring to bypass this switch and give us dipped beam. We then finished the Run with no further problems. I subsequently found that a new switch would set me back about £50 so I stripped the failed component and restored it by building up the burned-out contacts with new solder. The 1996, 1998 and 2000 events passed without significant incident. Mike was unable to accompany me on the 2002 Run since he was in the middle of some important exams at the time; I duly recruited Mark Irwin from the local IAM group and we had a trouble-free run. I recall thick but patchy fog on the A30 between Oakhampton and Bodmin. The traffic was very light but as is always the case in such conditions more vehicles passed me in an hour or so than would in weeks of normal motoring. Arriving at Land’s End we learned that another entrant’s TR4 had suffered water pump failure and was stranded in a garage in Oakhampton. I of course still had

the spare pump and gasket in my boot that had been there for 24 years following my experience on the 1978 event. After a hurried breakfast, Mark and I made good speed to Oakhampton, located the garage and soon had the replacement pump fitted to the stricken car. We then enjoyed a spirited drive together in the two TRs over Dartmoor to the Dartmoor Lodge control and lunch stop where we arrived on schedule. For the 2004 RBRR I teamed up with another Club member, Mike Godfrey. Lucas the ‘Prince of Darkness’ was to strike again and the light switch began to play up on the A10 on the Friday evening. The switch finally failed on the Saturday evening and we had to stop and do some rewiring. This lasted us OK to the end of the event but our problems were not over. On the final leg round the M25 I was conscious of a rapidly deflating offside rear tyre. This was in a road works contra-flow near Junction 13 and fortunately a 40mph limit was in force at the time. I spotted a place safely to pull off the carriageway a short distance ahead and was able to stop before the tyre was ruined. I called the AA and the car was removed from the motorway so that we could fit the spare in safety and we were soon on our way again to the finish. I repaired the light switch as I had done previously but before the 2006 Run, which I again entered with Mike Godfrey, I fitted relays for dip and main beam to prevent the switch ever burning out again. Mike


and I enjoyed a trouble-free drive on this Run and the car did not miss a beat the whole weekend. For 2008 and 2010 I again teamed up with Mike Hockaday and on both occasions we completed the event without opening the tool kit, just as it should be. There was much delight in June 2010 when the instigator of the RBRR, Derek Pollock, by then Club President, was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for charitable services. By that time the RBRR had raised over a third of a million pounds for a variety of good causes. Over the years, the event has attracted an increasing overseas entry. One member, Pat Barber, has even shipped his own car from and back to the USA on three occasions to take part! Mike was again to codrive for me on the 2012 Run but had to withdraw earlier in the year so I emailed Pat to enquire if he might be interested in the seat and within 24 hours he replied telling me his flights were booked. I believe it took him a few days to get around to telling his wife. We had a very relaxing and easy drive with only one quickly resolved issue. On the approach to Otterburn on the A68 the engine began to cut out intermittently. On investigation, we soon spotted a loose coil LT lead, fixed in an instant. Just before the 2014 event I treated the car to a rolling road session. I had fitted a solid state distributor in 2007 and had been very happy with how the car was

running; imagine my surprise and embarrassment when it was found that despite my having faithfully followed the manufacturer’s fitting instructions the timing was 4 degrees too retarded throughout the rev range. Optimisation released an additional 13bhp to which I hadn’t realised I was entitled. For 2014 I teamed up with Howard Pryor, a TR Register member with whom I had previously done other Club events. The extra power was very noticeable on the road and made the event even more enjoyable, with a bonus of improved economy. The car didn’t miss a beat the whole weekend with my tool kit remaining in the boot. The October 2016 event started on Friday 7th October, fifty years to the day after the first. This milestone Run was oversubscribed within a week of its announcement and attracted an astonishing entry of 133 cars, ranging from a 1950 Renown saloon from Belgium, which had successfully completed the 2014 Run, the oldest car ever to do so, to a 1984 Acclaim, fruit of BL’s joint venture with Honda. The huge entry required a change of start and finish venue and we settled on Knebworth Park, which had the added advantage of offering direct access to the A1(M) allowing us to slot easily into the heavy evening traffic. I was glad that this time Mike Hockaday had again agreed to share the drive with me, making our fourteenth start on the event, a record for a driver pairing. The car was running as well as ever





and we had every confidence in a thirteenth finish together, or all the confidence one can have in a 50-yearold car, albeit one that is much improved and regularly maintained. We arrived at the imposing start venue in good time to be met by the impressive sight of seven lines of Triumphs stretching into the far distance. Everything went swimmingly for us on this Run with the 4A devouring the miles without missing a beat until, whilst I was pressing on a single carriageway section of the A30, still some way from Land’s End, I noticed the oil pressure slowly dropping. I killed the engine immediately, selected neutral, put on the hazard flashers and coasted to a halt in a convenient layby. My immediate thought was a sudden and catastrophic oil loss since the engine had sounded perfectly normal before I switched off. My next thought was “Oh no!” since we were not far from Bodmin Moor where on the 1982 RBRR we suffered the oil loss resulting in engine failure and our second DNF. This time shortly after we stopped two other entrants we had just overtaken pulled up to offer help. We soon saw that there had been an oil leak from one end of the oil cooler and oil had sprayed over the underneath of the hood, the radiator and right hand wheel arch but fortunately none had found its way to the brake disc. We cut both cooler hoses at the oil thermostat inlet and outlet and looped these together with a length of hose. I

refilled the sump and on starting the engine our prayers were answered as we saw full oil pressure on the gauge. We repacked the boot and headed off with the two other cars shadowing us in case we still had a problem. After a short distance, with growing confidence, I waved them past having decided on a selfimposed precautionary 3,000rpm limit, this was no real hardship, corresponding as it does to about 72mph in overdrive top. We completed the Run without further incident although by now running towards the back of the field, this making 19 finishes from 21 starts for me in the same car, talk about a glutton for punishment! As for the statistics the TR returned a true 35.35mpg at a running average speed of 48.6mph. This is the best economy I have ever achieved on the Round Britain and we certainly weren’t hanging about at times. It was interesting to note that at the time of this Run, just short of my 71st birthday, I was few months older than my father was when he declined to co-drive in 1974 as he felt he was too old! There is no doubt that my car is good for many more Round Britains. I am fortunate to have been blessed with good health so far and should have a few more left in me but may be looking for a younger co-driver one of these days! At the Club Triumph Annual Dinner in March a cheque for £95,800 was presented to two clearly dumbfounded representatives of Guide Dogs, our chosen charity


for last October’s event. When Gift Aid is taken into account we are looking at an amount well into six figures, an all-time record RBRR result by some margin. This is a truly transformational amount of money, which could fund, for example, the training of two guide dog partnerships for two years from birth to graduation and ongoing support for the working life of the dogs. The total raised for charity by the RBRR since 1990 now stands at well over £600,000. The Club Triumph Round Britain Reliability Run is a unique event in the classic car calendar. It is truly a win-win since it offers Triumph enthusiasts the opportunity to use their cars over some magnificent and lightly trafficked roads and enjoy a tremendous spirit of camaraderie while at the same time raising a lot of money for a good cause. Long live the RBRR.

The right stuff n Squadron Leader R A King RAF (Retd) (OA 1963) looks back on his career as a pilot in the Royal Air Force

A pilot in the Royal Air Force. A flight of fantasy or a realistic career ambition? I knew from a very early age that this was what I wanted to do after leaving school. My father worked for de Havilland and I had grown up under the final approach to the main runway at Hatfield. Aircraft and everything to do with

Summer 1960 – 4th Form Summer Uniform

them was tangible and relevant to me. Of course, I was aware of the potential impediments: did I have or could I achieve the academic qualifications, did I have the medical fitness for aircrew, did I have flying aptitude, could I convince the RAF that I had leadership potential, was I the “right stuff”? During my seven years at St Albans School I was able to achieve, discover or personally develop the qualities needed to make the first steps on what was to be a 39year career. The CCF, both Army and RAF sections, played a major role in my life. I lived for Friday afternoons, the weekend events (full bore shooting at Royston and flying experience at White Waltham) and the Easter and Summer Camps. After two years in the Army section we were able to specialise and naturally I transferred to the RAF section. Selection for a flying scholarship (comprising 30 hours flying at Luton Flying Club) and resulting in a private pilot’s licence, answered the queries on medical




Fort George 1963 – SNCOs at Summer Camp


fitness and flying aptitude. I was also appointed to run the armoury, despite my RAF allegiance, and as a consequence attended two camps a year. I enjoyed the mixture of doing things in a practical environment whilst applying a methodical and conscientious approach. When I left school in 1963 and joined the RAF in November of that year, I felt that I was as prepared as I could be for the challenges ahead. Officer training was conducted at RAF South Cerney near Cirencester and lasted six months. The ability (learnt in the CCF) to clean, polish and iron as well as appear at the right time in the right kit and with the right equipment was hammered home. Leadership exercises (using a team to get an ammo box over a wall or build a raft from 50-gallon oil drums) were prominent as were the camps in the Brecon Beacons in the shadow of Pen-y-Fan. Once commissioned, one was very much on probation and the rank braid on the sleeve denoting an acting Pilot Officer almost invisible. Basic flying training was completed at RAF Leeming near

Northallerton and lasted a year whilst flying the Jet Provost for 160 hours. At the end of this year one was awarded the RAF Flying Badge (wings) and one’s commission was confirmed. Advanced flying training was carried out at RAF Valley in Anglesey on the Gnat and consisted of 70 hours’ flying, building on the subjects covered at basic, but at twice the speed and on a more complex aircraft. At the end of this course, one was posted to the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) to learn to fly and operate the aircraft that you were going to fly on the squadron. Thus in December 1965 I arrived at RAF Finningley near Doncaster to undertake the ground school for the Victor Mk2 (Blue Steel); the flying element of the course occurred at RAF Wittering near Stamford. The classroom work, simulators and flying took until March 1966 and it was not until April 1966 that, at the age of 21, I was on the front line, qualified and ready to fly a nuclear armed bomber at 15 minutes’ notice as part of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Life on the squadron was a mixture of training flights, one week in seven on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA), poised to fly an armed aircraft at 15 minutes in response to a threat to the UK, and deploying on dispersal exercises. There was also the occasional “Lone Ranger” flight to overseas destinations such as Valetta in Malta as well as trips to Goose Bay, Labrador to practise flying at low level over the tundra.


The highlight of the tour was the visit to Jamaica to commemorate the disbandment of the squadron as the RAF transferred the independent nuclear deterrent to the Royal Navy. The squadron personnel looked forward to a new phase of their lives. I had volunteered to become a flying instructor, so when Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon in Jul 1969 I was halfway through the course at RAF Little Rissington learning how to teach a basic student to fly. The instructor’s course I had completed at the barracks in Kempston Bedford when I was a newly promoted 16 year-old corporal had laid a firm and useful foundation. My first instructional posting was to the School of Refresher Flying at RAF Manby, which was challenging and interesting, as each student was given a bespoke course to fit their future postings dependent on experience rank and ability. After a spell as Deputy Flight Commander I returned to RAF Little Rissington to teach qualified pilots how to teach

and thus become Qualified Flying Instructors (QFIs). A shortage of experienced QFIs on the Gnat at RAF Valley led to a career switch, and after training on the Gnat at RAF Kemble I returned to RAF Valley as a QFI before becoming a Deputy Flight Commander and finally Flight Commander. Thus, ten years after leaving school I had flown some 2,800 hours on six types of aircraft, qualified as an instructor on two types and become an examiner in instrument flying on the same types. After some five years on instructional duties it was time to return to the front line, but that is another story and for another day.

QFI September 69 – RAF Gaydon Battle of Britain Display

Naval gazing n What does the Headmaster know about careers advice anyway? Peter Jeanneret (OA 1965) tells us how he defied W T Marsh to pursue a highly successful naval career

I suppose I never really had much of an idea as to what I wanted to do




Peter Jeanneret OA


when I left school, so when my good friend Chris Craddock announced that he was going to join the Royal Navy, I decided that I would do that too. No better reason, but I got quite excited about the idea, filled in the advertisement in the Daily Telegraph, and sent off for the recruiting information. I also made the mistake of informing the School, and was sent for by Old Bill Marsh, with my parents, one evening. WT Marsh had himself been in the Royal Navy, at least 30 years previously, and he had two sons in the Navy too, I seem to recall, so he might have known a bit about it. “Hmmmm, so you want to join the Navy? What branch do you want to join?” “Branch?” I said – I thought they were something one used to climb up trees! “Yes, well, if for instance you had decided on a career with John Lewis, you would have an idea whether you wanted

to work in the haberdashery, or kitchen departments, or whatever”. He then explained what I would have found out had I waited until the brochure arrived the next day, with a glossy cover photograph of a Royal Navy and Royal Marines officer on the deck of an aircraft carrier (we did have a few of them, in those days, with real aircraft!). I could be a Seaman, Engineer, or Supply Officer, and specialize in gunnery, navigation, flying, and so on. It still sounded good to me, but I think he was not convinced that it was the best thing for me, or that I was sufficiently serious. Anyway, if he was trying to put me off then he failed, because I applied for a scholarship to Dartmouth, passed the first interview, and was called for a second. This was my next encounter with the Old Man, because I needed time off from School and had to take the letter to the Headmaster. “Ah, so it says you have to report to the Admiralty Interview Board at HMS SULTAN on 21st October at 18.15 – what does that mean to you?” “That’s quarter past six in the evening” I smartly replied (24-hour clocks weren’t so popular in those days). “And what if you saw 21st October 1805, what would that mean to you?” Surely this can’t be a trick question? “Well, sir, that would be just ten minutes earlier”. “Oh dear!” he must have thought, “this boy wants to join the Royal Navy and he hasn’t even heard of the Battle of Trafalgar!”


The new Headmaster for my final year, Frank Kilvington, must have had similar misgivings, for he wrote in my final School report: “On a general point, he will have to learn rather better to take no for an answer if he is not to be in trouble in the Navy”. Anyway, I did join Dartmouth as a Seaman Officer, and persuaded them to allow me to go to Cambridge after two years, against much resistance from the establishment. “The only place to learn your trade is at sea, lad” – but that’s another story. Three excellent years at Queens’ College, where I gained a First in Engineering, much to the bemusement of the Naval Engineers! On the whole, I had a pretty good time in the Navy for 29 years, and did not too badly, specialising in submarines, achieving command of one, experiencing the Falklands conflict, and retiring as a Commander. However, I suspect that if I had taken note of Frank Kilvington’s advice, I might have gone further.

This year is the centenary of the Submarine Command Course, infamously known as the “Perisher”. In 100 years, less than 1,200 officers have passed this gruelling test. Many will have died, not least from wartime attrition. Yet more than 280 of them will attend a celebratory dinner at Dartmouth this Summer, including 30 Admirals, and one Admiral of the Fleet (who was my next-door neighbour when we were both Lieutenants!). My name is halfway down the list – maybe reflecting the excellent school motto in my day – Mediocria Firma (very handy when explaining to parents about being 15th out of 30 in class!). What I suspect that Old Bill Marsh, and his successor, appreciated was that the old Navy was not necessarily looking for intellect or academic talent, and that someone who could take full advantage of the excellent education offered at St Albans School and Cambridge might possibly have more to offer in a career outside the Services. But not so much fun!

All at sea: HMS Walrus was Peter Jeanneret’s first command




The best ever? n Jeremy Swinson (OA 1968) asks whether the legendary unbeaten School First XV of 1967 was the greatest School side ever

A recent edition of the OA Bulletin contained a discussion about what was the worst 1st XV ever to represent the School. But that, of course, begs the question, what was the best? To my knowledge, the first School team to go unbeaten was Ian Jennings’ 1st XV of 1961, when my contemporaries and I were in our first year at School. Whether our team of 1967, whose 50th anniversary occurs this year, would have beaten Ian’s team will never be known, but suffice to say it would have been a close-run affair. Our team’s most famous player was, of course, Bob Wilkinson. But he was only in his Lower Sixth year in 1967, and although good was not necessarily the outstanding player of the team. As in all good teams, the strength of ours lay in the sum of its parts, not in individuals. The front five were solid and reliable. The hooker Graham Keighley was supported by the Swinson twins, Andrew and myself at prop. Bob Wilkinson was partnered in the second row by John Ponsford. Bob’s supremacy at the line-out ensured a good supply of ball whether it was our put-in or theirs, and we regularly stole the opposition ball in set scrums. The back row was especially quick.


Malcolm McPherson at blind side was fast and furious, Andy MillsBaker at number eight a strong and an excellent ball carrier, while the standout player of the team was our captain Tony Gittings. Tony was the biggest member of the team, had real pace and put fear in the eyes of all opposing fly-halves. Our half-backs were Dick Ashby, who although small had a quick and accurate pass, and at fly-half was Alan Towersey, our leading points scorer. His line kicking was superb, which meant that whenever we were in our half of the field, which wasn’t often, one good kick from Alan could put us back on the attack. He could also convert tries from the touch line and kick most penalties if we choose to take them. The centre pairing was usually Geoff Maule and John Elliot. Geoff was a good ball player and John was big, burly and strong running. Ian Galley, our full back, never had too much to do, but would always be eager to join in any attack. If we had any weakness it was at wing. Both Andy Roe and Vlad Danning ran 100 metres for the School, so they were fast but neither of them would admit to being great handlers of the ball. When they actually caught it they were both capable of scoring. We were coached primarily by Pete Avery. He encouraged us to play at a quick pace and spread the ball wide. He was supported by Charlie Bloxham and Mike Nurton who would occasionally appear and inform us in a west-country burr,


“You’re doing that all wrong boys, at Sarries we do it like this.” Collectively, we were a wellbalanced side but had real power in key areas of the field. We also had a great team spirit, which was augmented by the considerable publicity we managed to create about ourselves. 1967 saw the launch of a short-lived evening paper based in Watford called the Watford Observer. They were obviously short of copy, so Andy Mills-Baker wrote a match report after every victory which they published. Soon they began sending a photographer to take action shots of us at play which we displayed around School and proved of passing interest to a number of girls at the High School. Our team was distinguished by a number of outstanding all-round sportsmen in the side. Both Graham Keighley and Dick Ashby played cricket for Hertfordshire schoolboys. Graham was a batsman and wicketkeeper, while Dick who captained the county side was good with both ball and bat. As good a cricketer as he was, Dick excelled most at hockey, which had only recently been introduced at school. Dick gained an Oxford Blue at the sport, played for the St Albans side and, I believe, once represented England in an indoor hockey tournament. After his playing days were over he continued to coach at both St Albans Hockey Club and the School. After leaving School, Malcolm McPherson, Andy Mills-Baker and I played for some years for the OAs.

Andy, of course, has had a long association with the Old Albanian Club. He has been president twice and, with others, was instrumental in the fantastic development at Woollams. Both Bob Wilkinson and Alan Towersey played for Bedford. Bob’s outstanding rugby career is well known. He played for three years for Cambridge University, England, and in that classic Barbarians’ match when they beat the All Blacks in 1973. Alan played for Bedford over the same period, mainly on the wing, but also played fly-half for Hertfordshire and in a South of England side against the visiting Fijians. Alan’s rugby career came to an abrupt end at a Herts training session when he collided head-to-head with another player. Although he couldn’t play rugby again he took up hockey once more and played for several years for Bedford. A rugby injury was also to play a traumatic part in the life of the outstanding player of our team, our captain Tony Gittings. Tony along with Bob, Alan, Andy Mills-Baker and myself had been selected to play for Bedford Schools against Harlequins at the Stoop Memorial

Unbeaten: the 1967 School First XV with Jeremy Swinson seated front row far right. Future England international Bob Wilkinson is seated second from left




ground. It was January, cold, wet and the pitch a heavy mud patch. Half way through the second half Tony broke through a lineout and in a tackle, twisted his knee to such extent it ruptured most of the ligaments around the joint. It took several weeks in hospital before he could walk again and he was not able to return to School until well into the Spring term. As a result, he had to defer going to university for a year. Anyone who played with or indeed against Tony would be pleased to acknowledge that he was one of the outstanding rugby players ever to have played for the School. We shall never know what he might have achieved, but for that injury. Those of us who played with

him are certain that had he been able to continue to play, his career would have been as every bit as illustrious as that of his team-mate Bob Wilkinson. Nowadays we live all over the world, Graham in Los Angeles, Rick Combiere in Toronto and Andy Roe anywhere from Hong Kong to Singapore to Brussels. However, over the years we have continued to meet up every five years or so, to reminisce, catch up and wallow once again in the camaraderie that comes from the shared experience of being in the possibly the best ever 1st XV to represent the School. As this year marks the 50th anniversary we will no doubt share a few beers once again.

Archive, Museum and Gateway

rugby one” was a half-truth. A fuller explanation would have been laborious then, but at Nigel Wood Smith’s request I shall attempt an explanation now. That I was an above-averagely successful field athlete was a simple fact. I believe I held four School records at the time of my leaving and had held Athletics Colours for three years. I was also a Colour and regular player in the Rugby First XV for three years. I may have been captain of Cross-Country but cannot now remember. But in all other respects I was just a normal average person with no pretensions to being exceptional – nor desire to be. Perhaps the School motto

Spurned prizes n John Billington (OA 1955) explains why he spurned a top-level athletics career for a higher purpose

I was somewhat taken aback on returning to visit the School after an absence of 50 years (around 2005?) to be greeted so bluntly by Charles Bloxham with “Why didn’t you go for a Blue?” The question came before we had even exchanged greetings. My reply: “Well, I wasn’t interested in an athletics Blue and I wasn’t good enough for a



at the time – Mediocria Firma – “The Middle Way is Best” – had influenced me! Like many boys, I found physical exercise exhilarating and revelled in it. I was lucky with my genes and naturally athletic, though relatively slight of build and weight. I was mystified when my boarding friends returned to School after the long summer break and spoke of having to “get fit”. I had no idea what it was not to be fit. The High Jump event is one of the most protracted, partly because some competitors are prima donnas and take an excessive time to prepare to jump. Often in competition I would go off to run the hurdles, putt the shot or throw the javelin and then return to continue jumping before winning the event. That sounds conceited but is not. From as long as I can remember I was unbeaten in this event and in my last year took first place not only in inter-school matches but in the Herts, Southern Counties, Public Schools and AAA National Junior Open competitions. Only in the AAA National, at Perry Barr in Birmingham in 1955 was I stretched. My rival was a boy from Sierra Leone and when only he and I remained I remember being piqued by the assumption on the part of the tannoy commentator (“Here comes Luke – all the way from Sierra Leone!”) that he would win. He didn’t. After the event Harold Abrahams (of Chariots of Fire fame) and

another top-level coach – whose name I have now forgotten but who had written a thick book on athletics coaching – came running over to the high jump pit (in those days we took off from grass or gravel and landed in sand) and offered me coaching. I had won the event in clearing six feet but the style I used was the Western Roll and it was well out of date. Luke was using the Straddle, which in those days was the most economical style, and would have added another three inches to the height cleared. The Fosbury Flop – which is unlikely ever to be improved on because it is the most economical style possible – had not yet been discovered, but has greatly increased the heights cleared. Abrahams argued that with coaching and a change of style I would be in line for the Olympics for 1964. I thanked him but said I was giving up athletics. At first, he did not take this in and I had to repeat it. Earlier, at Whitsun in 1955, I had represented Hertfordshire in the javelin (my second event) in the British Games Inter-County Athletic Championships (sponsored by the News of the World) and as the only Junior in a Senior event had carried the flag for the county in the opening march-past in Wembley Stadium. So why had I made up my mind so firmly, so young, at the height of success, when I had won a national event? No doubt a psychiatrist will find flaws in my character, but here I will give my own explanation. Athletics





in those days (the 1950s) was a rather lonely sport. There was no ‘Team GB’ and little coaching. You practised on your own. This can lead to unhealthy self-absorption – something I very much wanted to avoid. It was also amateur and unfunded. On the day of the National Finals in Birmingham I walked three miles to my local station in the morning, took the train to Birmingham – a city I had never visited – found my way by bus to the stadium, competed, and returned home by train and on foot. I remember fuelling myself with sticks of barley sugar. There was no question of taxis or of staying the night in a hotel – unaffordable luxuries – and my family had no car. But I have omitted the real reason – the one I felt I could not explain to Charles Bloxham. I remember being hauled over the coals by W T Marsh (the Headmaster) for showing no interest in a School House (the sole boarding house) debate on ‘Professionalism in Sport’ in 1954 – something only just then being considered. I was painfully diffident about speaking in public but when needled to do so by the headmaster I rose to my feet and said: “I have nothing to say, Headmaster: I do not think sport important.” He took my contribution as insolence, but although lofty and defensive in tone it was simply the truth – despite huge success, I did not think sport important. One forgets how idealistic the young can be. “Why are we here?

Why should we behave well?” are questions that will haunt any intelligent young mind. During my A levels I had read Jiddu Krishnamurti’s Education and the Significance of Life; I had studied the psychology of C G Jung; and at the age of 16 had found the answer to many questions in Christmas Humphrey’s recently published Pelican on Buddhism. I had also read Fosco Maraini’s Secret Tibet which appeared in the school library in 1952. And I had toyed with the idea of writing to the Dalai Lama who was of a similar age to myself. Buddhism influenced me hugely. Central to Buddhism is the law of cause and effect in the spiritual world (“karma”) by which what happens to you is directly related to your own thought, speech and action. While sitting around waiting for my turn to jump I had occasionally attempted by thoughttransference to disrupt the delicate perfection of an opponent’s run-up. And, very occasionally, had thought it worked. Now in Buddhism, a negative thought directed at another person – whether or not it affects them – is deemed to corrupt the thinker. In seeking to harm my rival, I was actually harming myself. To seek to out-do your neighbour in Buddhism is unethical. Competition traditionally has no place in Eastern religions, for if all beings are divine why should one seek to outsmart them? I saw the vanity and absurdity then of our excessive stress in the West on competition,


and more than 60 years later have not changed my mind. The JudaeoChristian idea of man being given “dominion” over the animals – or of favoured nations – seems totally alien to non-European cultures. Perhaps I took these things too seriously. Three years after my greatest athletic successes I was out in Bombay teaching. Among my early pupils was the future novelist, Salman Rushdie, whom I tutored (very badly!) in Latin in 1960. And some 30 years later I first met, and then got to know, the Dalai Lama. Oh, and the boy with whom I shared a study in the boarding house (John V Knight) who had won a place at Lincoln College,

Oxford, chose not to take it up after his National Service. And Stephen Hawking, a few years after me, refused an offered knighthood. Not all who can win prizes wish to accept them. Footnote: John Willé, House Tutor at School House – for whose interest I am grateful – gave me a copy of ‘Athletics for Schoolboys’, a slim and concise little book by F A M Webster (sponsored by Ovaltine). I still have it, in immaculate condition, and found it very useful. I had forgotten that the author was also an OA. I am happy to leave this, together with my small collection of medals, to the School Museum.

From the Archive

Stephen Hawking OA: refused a knighthood (see above), but agreed to return to his old School





OA Rugby

Moving on: fly-half and coach James Shanahan (centre) is leaving to coach Blackheath

All change n OARFC Press Officer Brian Quinn reports on the fantastic achievement of retaining our place in National League One – and significant changes to the playing and coaching staff for next season

This year of successful consolidation has become something of a watershed, since so many senior members will not be appearing next year. Finishing ninth in the League in our first year back in National One was a tremendous achievement and the entire squad is to be congratulated on a superb effort. However, stalwarts like Chris May, cruelly injured at Coventry, Chris Lombaard and Nick Stevens have retired and back row favourite Harry Bate is moving to London. Iconic skipper Billy Johnson will be turning out for Ampthill next season, work and family commitments forcing the move. A

huge debt of gratitude is owed to all these players and we wish them well in their respective futures. They will all be welcome visitors back at Woollams whenever opportunity arises. Head Coach James ‘Shanners’ Shanahan is also moving on and takes up the reins at Blackheath in the close season. His name has been synonymous with success at OAs and his two brilliant spells in charge of club coaching have literally dragged Albanians to new levels. He will be sadly missed but his legacy will live on and we wish him every success in South London and thank him for everything he has done. His place will be taken by Gavin Hogg who has a proud coaching record, most recently with Bury St Edmunds in National Two South, where he has presided over two League promotions in three years. We look forward to new and refreshing ideas. Bruce Millar still leads a strong

management team who will oversee the continued development of rugby at all levels of the club and opportunities for players of all abilities are readily available. The Saints, our Ladies division, had their usual successful season finishing third in South East Two (see report below). They combined a tough playing campaign with expected high jinx and the tour to Amsterdam has been described as “carnage”! Sadly, Kate Barnes has decided to hang her boots up after an unparalleled career. We thank her for her incredible dedication and wish her well for the future. OA Colts This was another successful season for OA Colts with lots of success on and off the field. The u18A team won the Herts Middlesex Division One and the Herts u18 Cup – this is the fourth season in a row that this group has


achieved this particular “double”. The team also had a fantastic run in the National Colts Cup going out away to York in the semi-final by the painstakingly tight score of 26-29. The u18B team fulfilled and competed hard in all their Division Two fixtures. This in itself is a great success and one of the fundamental objectives of the Colts is to keep the u18B team going – something we have achieved in the last two seasons, but has never been achieved before that. The u17A had their best season ever on the field winning Herts Middlesex Division One for the first time ever; and reaching the final of the Herts Cup for the first time ever when they narrowly lost to Bishop’s Stortford. The team also won the South East Division Plate competition – convincingly beating Old Elthamians in the final; and then going on to reach the National Plate final where they lost to an

Moving on: back row favourite Harry Bate is joining James Shanahan at Blackheath



OA Saints Rugby

OA SPORT Moving on: captain Billy Johnson is leaving to join Ampthill. Action photos by Neil Baldwin

Saints alive n As she finally hangs up her boots, Club Captain Kate Barnes provides a round-up of another successful season for the OA Saints

extremely strong Chester team. The u17B played lots of rugby (as with the u18B, this is a great measure of success in itself) and finished 2nd in the Herts Middlesex Division Two. This is the highest I have known a B team to reach in the league structure and testament to the fantastic strength in depth that the current u17 age group has. As well as all this success on the field, a number of u18 players have become regular players in the senior sides on a Saturday; and a number of players are looking forward to playing regularly next season. The future is bright. OA Minis The OAs minis have had a very busy end to the official season with the club involved in many end of season festivals and tours. They have had teams from all mini age groups at fests at Slough/ Beaconsfield/London Irish 6 Nations/ Cambridge and the various Herts



County Fests. These are all run in accordance with the RFU’s age grade guidelines and they encourage full participation from all the players and are always very competitive affairs. They have also had sides from all our mini age groups on the Club tour to Camber last weekend. This was huge fun and a way for our families with players in multiple age groups to tour together. The u11s have also just returned from a great trip to Dublin and made lots of new friends and will be back to Ireland again in the seasons to come. The u12s have also toured to Barcelona so the young players at OAs have had a great end to another exciting season. The OAs minis ended the regular season really well having enjoyed lots of exciting events and look forward to the new season in September. Brian Quinn Press Officer, OARFC

The Saints finish their fifth Season in 3rd place in Championship South East League 2 having played 16 games, won 12 and lost four, finishing with 55 points. The top two teams were new arrivals Tonbridge, Kent and Blackheath, who won it and will now move up in Championship South 1 League. This was the first year the RFU increased the league from eight to nine teams. The Saints have a new Head Coach, Darran Brown. Originally from Maidenhead RFC, he has taken the Saints on board like a second family this season. The girls are proud to have him with us and is here to build the Saints once again to two teams. Claire’s sister, ex-Saint England star Sarah Mckenna, is one the guest coaches delivering sessions throughout the season. It’s great we have her on board when she is not on England duty. Currently, the Saints have 46 registered players with 17 brand new players registered this season alone. The girls have such good links with other clubs like Bletchley, Quins and Shelford that they used 10 loan players to boost their squads on match days. The Saints have built a great relationship with the Junior Saints,

and have now six of those young players are registered with them and playing regularly. The RFU has changed the league structure based around the new Super League, which has replaced the premiership in Women’s Rugby, and have asked the Saints if they want to move up to Championship 1 North. The players are currently voting to either go up or stay in the current league. This will be decided by the 3rd May. A few highlights of the season include Mica managing a season without being injured and pretty much playing everywhere in the forwards! Barnsey has finally hung up her boots and retired from playing after 20 years of playing and 14 years at OAs to focus on Crossfit. She will remain Club Captain for her third Season and run the Saints. Saints Award Winners Georgie Robinson Award Club Person of the Year: Kate Barnes (Saints Club Captain) Players’ Player: Mica Gooding (Saints Treasurer) Highest Points Scorer: Robyn King (Saints Pitch Captain) Coaches’ Player: Sarah Bebbington Most Improved Player: Lauren Eardely  Winner of the “I was there” award: Katie Robertson Kate Barnes Club Captain




OA Football

Alive and kicking n Nick Jackson reports on the welcome come-back of OA Football, and invites all Alumni to sign up

We are delighted to announce the relaunch of the Old Albanian Football Club. After several years’ absence, Old Albanians Nick Jackson and Alex Addison have taken the reins on what is set to become the first OA team of recent times to consist of players who have all attended the School. With a squad featuring graduates from 2004 through to 2011 (and counting), membership is available to all Alumni. Officially introduced at the start of the 2017/18 season,

In tribute: The team honouring a minute’s silence as a mark of respect to one of the founding member’s late father



OA Golf as part of the Arthurian League, OA fixtures are against Old Boy networks in the South East and, having defeated both the Old Harrovians and Old Johnians in an astonishing cup run, the club has its sights firmly on taking back some silverware to Woollams next season whilst re-kindling old rivalries. There are fixtures pencilled throughout the next few months with the Club and School looking at an OA match against the current 1st XI. For those interested in finding out more or to become a member please email oldalbaniansfc@gmail. com. Nick Jackson Chairman, OAFC

Stepping into Clarke’s shoes n Secretary Peter Dredge reports on a successful OA Golfing Society Spring Meeting at Sandy Lodge, and welcomes a new club captain for the 2017-18 season

Our esteemed Captain, Tony Clarke, presided over the annual dinner held at Hammond’s End, which was well attended by members and their ladies. We were honoured to welcome the Headmaster, Jonathan Gillespie, and his charming wife Caroline. Thanks to Colin Spurr for organising and orchestrating the event so successfully. The Spring Meeting of the OAGS was staged at Sandy Lodge Golf Club and a good number of OAs and Antelopes attended. The event was for teams of three, Stableford scoring, and the popular winners were Peter Dew, Mike Hodge and Mike Crowston on a count-back from Mike Lamprell, Graham Tate and Brian Bysouth. In third place, one point behind came Pete Redford, Mike Peters and Peter Dredge. Weather was superb for the occasion on 26th March and short-sleeves order applied. A great day, and Sandy Lodge provided a superb golf course and terrific food and rations. We are delighted that Graham Tate has accepted the post of Captain of the OAGS for 2017/18 and he has arranged his Captain’s Day at Dunstable Downs GC on

Thursday 27th July. The OA Cup is being held at Berkhamsted GC on Monday 12th June when John Cox will be defending his title. At the time of writing this report Sergio Garcia achieved his lifetime ambition of winning the US Masters event at Augusta and his first major championship win after 74 attempts. An inspiration for some of us golden oldies! Matches have been arranged with our friends and rivals at Haberdashers, Berkhamsted and Highgate. The away trip is being held at Lakeside Lodge GC, near Huntingdon on 1st – 3rd October. We should record a large vote of thanks to past Captain, Tony Clarke, for his tremendous leadership during his two-year term of office. Tony has attended all our matches and events, provided generous prizes and played some great golf. We all very much value and appreciate the contribution Tony has made to the OAGS. All OAs are most welcome to attend any of our events. Members’ handicaps vary from low to 28 and our aim is to meet up with old friends and contemporaries and enjoy the socialising. Please contact Peter Dredge for further information at pjdredge42@ or telephone 01582 834572. Peter Dredge Secretary





Competitive Edge n OA Tennis Club Secretary Maureen Harcourt looks forward to a successful season with new coach Margie Edge

The Summer tennis season is underway and our teams are in action. All three teams were promoted last season so we are going to face some challenging matches. The Ladies got off to a good start with a 7-2 win against Radlett, the Men did not fare quite so well, losing 6-3 to West Herts. The Mixed have played two tight games, winning against Harpenden 5-4, and then losing to Greenwood Park 4-5. We wish them well for the rest of the season – watch this space! Our newly appointed tennis coach,

Margie Edge, is beginning to build up her coaching sessions, both groups and individually. If anyone is interested in booking some coaching sessions she can be contacted at We have our Sue Barnes Memorial Tournament on Sunday 11th June starting at 11am, which will include a barbecue lunch. The cost is £20. The tournament will be doubles and changing partners after each set – prizes to be won! Please contact Maureen Harcourt m.harcourt@ if you are interested in playing. We would also welcome new players to the club so do contact either Maureen or Margie if you are interested in finding out more. Maureen Harcourt Secretary


Dealing with wind n Club Captain Andrew Wilkie explains the importance of wind training as small bore shooting returns outdoors for the Summer

The Summer season is upon us once again, and the shooting fraternity has emerged from their cosy (?) indoor ranges to the great outdoors. Aah, you can almost smell the heady aroma of cordite mixed with daffodils! Small bore shooters who have practiced indoors all winter at 25yds



are now faced with distances of 50yds, 50m and 100yds. This in itself is a challenge but not too daunting as most things .22 are scaled proportionally. The real problems start when the wind, sun and, of course, rain are factored in. Many small bore shooters will still scurry back to their indoor 25yd ranges to shoot summer leagues. Symptoms caused by lack of fluorescent lighting and too much sun can be severe! This summer the OAs have had a stratospheric promotion to Division 2 in the Herts Summer Rifle League

– Fingers crossed. With full bore, the distances are far greater, starting at 300yds and going on up to 1,000yds and wind becomes much more of a challenge. Dealing with this takes practice and experience. At the time of writing the OAs have shot two practice sessions and competed in two matches. This year we started the season with a practice session in the hope of getting a head start and dislodging some of the winter ‘rust’. In the match against the Lawrentians we came second as usual, but the scores were much closer possibly due to having had that practice session the week before. In the short range Q Match (500 & 600yds) we had some minor disasters and ended up fifth out of seven with scores at 500 & 600yds of 183.13 and 176.12 respectively, a total of 359.25. The scores that did hold up were reasonably healthy; however, there was a general impression among the team that we were not seeing representative results compared to the shooting skills we know we all possess. There were some excuses over markers delaying the start of the 500yds shoot half an hour by having the wrong target faces. Plus, a pathetically slow marker who we reckon was more interested in their iPhone than the shot fall, did not help at all! The silver lining to this particular cloud is that we now know how to involve range control via the radio to give the marker a gentle prod! The next scheduled match was

to be our annual full bore shoot against the School, known as the Clock match, on Sunday 30th April. Unfortunately, the School was unable to field a team as the MoD had not returned the cadet rifles from their annual service. So rather than cancel we took the decision to turn the target booking into a wind coaching and score card training session. This may seem a little mundane, but both elements are key to clawing back those extra points that would otherwise be lost, particularly when the wind is fishtailing (switching from left to right) down the range. I am delighted to report that three of our recent leavers Ashley Abrahams, Chris Oates and Tom Chapman, all of whom have had the benefit of specific training on such matters at School and university, were able to give us their time and experience. Completing the score card might sound simple and it is if you are only writing down the scores but this fails to give the opportunity of highlighting any patterns of shot fall and adjusting the group into the bull. As small bore shooters we have the benefit of up to ten shots all displayed on a single target at the same time. This way we can see patterns emerging and adjust accordingly. In full bore each shot is overwritten by the next so the pattern can only emerge on a score card. Add to that relating the wind prevailing at the time to each shot fall and things get too complex for one person to manage at the




same time as firing the shots. Enter the “record keeper” who keeps tabs on such things and also reports back elevation adjustments to the “wind coach”. The wind coach is dedicated to watching and assessing the wind alone they will watch the flags and actually adjust the shooter’s sights moments before each shot is taken. The wind setting for each shot is then reported to the record keeper once the shot has been fired. Reading the wind flags on a range is part science and part art form so not easy to learn, particularly when the flags either side of you are pointing in opposite directions. Reading the flags could probably be best described as the science bit.

But, of course, reading the wind after the shot has gone is of limited use so the art then moves on to predicting the wind for the next shot. Fortunately, the wind pattern does go in cycles which helps but time is limited so do you change your sights or wait for the wind to come to you. Decisions, decisions. It gets easier with practice we’re told so now we have to spread the gospel and get our shooters to practice what they have been taught. Good shooting to all and many thanks to our trainers on the day. Andrew Wilkie Captain


Weather beaten n After a curtailed Winter and Spring, Honorary Secretary Geoff Cannon looks forward to better fishing weather in the Summer

The club’s activities are curtailed during the winter due to inclement weather, but we look forward to the Spring. Members have visited the local waters where possible, and we held a successful Fishwives’ Supper in the Autumn. Adrian Blackwell and Geoff Cannon fished Lough Mask on the west coast of Ireland in March and enjoyed three days of excellent sport catching beautiful wild trout.


The evidence! The photo proves this is not a fisherman’s tale! The Summer has now arrived and we have planned trips to the River Frome in Dorset and the River Wye in Derbyshire. Tight lines! Geoff Cannon Honorary Secretary

Jarvis Group Building relationships through delivery Education






Oa Bulletin Summer 2017  
Oa Bulletin Summer 2017