Page 1


J M Keith ‘Laddie’ Finley in 1969 (back row, right) Obituary, Page 23

Old Albanian Club


June 2011

Founders’ Day – Saturday 2nd July 2011 London Drinks Party – Thursday 3rd November 2011


OA Bulletin june 2011

OA CLUB President Stephen Burgess 01727 867868 Secretary David Buxton 01727 840499 Treasurer Brian Sullman 01582 460317 Membership Secretary Roger Cook 01727 836877 OA SPORTS RUGBY President Robin Farrar 07985 347077 Email: Chairman Rory Davis 01727 843538 Treasurer John King 07712 837473 Secretary Peter Lipscomb Mini Chairman Brian Clark 07764 682650 Junior Chairman Chris Branagan 07810 180013 OA Saints Chairwoman Tasha Saint-Smith 07971 849290 FOOTBALL Club President Simon Bates & Manager 07720 383600

Nick Chappin – Editor Andy Chappin – Design & Production Roger Cook – Membership Mike Highstead – Gazette 2

01442 240247 David Hughes 07890 831315 01727 769237 Sponsorship Secretary David Burrows 07841 431614 CRICKET President Aln Philpott Chairman Andrew McCree 07890 831315 / 01727 769237 Treasurer Denis King Fixture Secretary Julian baines TENNIS Membership Enquiries Sue Barnes 07970 301345 OTHERS Rifle & Pistol Andrew Wilkie 01727 856857 Angling Geoff Cannon 01582 792512 Golf Peter Dredge 015827 834572 Treasurer & Club Secretary

OA LODGE John Williams

01438 715679


Printing - Herts & Beds Printing 01923 234959


OA Bulletin june 2011


Engaging with technology

removing with a damp cloth) and shared (by looking at it). The technology also opened up a new and intriguing world of possibilities In the course of my work I spend for the practical jokers of the form quite a lot of time writing about (no names, no pack drill: you know the use of information technology who you are) to secrete abusive in the classroom, and in particular messages or obscene drawings on its ability to help engage pupils in the device that would only reveal learning. One of my clients is the themselves when the board was UK distributor for a leading brand of rotated by the master. interactive whiteboards In JOW ‘Joey’ – a modern electronic Webb’s maths classes, version of the Different lengths we also had the traditional blackboard opportunity to engage of chalk were for those who don’t more directly with the know – and is happy available technology. employed for to part with hard cash With the arm speed in return for a few of a Major League rapid tactical choice words about baseball outfielder, how wonderful their he was deadly with strikes (usually products are. a range of missiles My personal and had an extensive deadly accurate experience of leadingarsenal at his disposal. edge classroom Different lengths of head-shots) technology goes back chalk were employed a long way, of course. for rapid tactical There was major strikes (usually excitement in the Lower School deadly accurate head-shots), and when we returned for the new term while the soft board offered lower to find that our form’s blackboard velocity and inferior dynamics, it had been replaced with a curious had the advantage of permanently green contraption that resembled branding the victim with a large a vast cloakroom roller towel. rectangle of chalk dust that could Although it sounds rudimentary, if only be removed by dry cleaning offered much of the functionality or extensive sponging. Lurking in you would expect in a modern the top drawer of his desk was a computer: the teacher’s work could heavy, wood-backed board rubber be saved (by rolling round to a which, like the nuclear weapons of clean bit), deleted (either by partly the Cold War, was there purely as a obscuring with a board duster deterrent. I never saw it deployed; if or jacket sleeve, or permanently it had been, a direct hit between the



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eyes could have stopped a charging rhino, let alone an annoying Second Former. But as any education professional will tell you, it’s the quality of the teacher that engages the pupil, and technology can merely enhance good teaching – not replace it. Looking back to my own schooldays, I’m sorry to say that there were precious few examples of masters who really brought their subjects alive, although Keith ‘Laddie’ Finley, who passed away in November 2010 (see obituary on page 23) was an honourable exception. He was my English master in the Fourth Form, and following an uninterrupted diet of rather dry grammar and classic literature, it was refreshing to be presented with intellectual and practical challenges more relevant to our world at the time. One exercise that springs to mind

Notes for budding authors l Subject matter Absolutely anything you think would be of interest to fellow OAs, from anecdotes and recollections of your schooldays to the events and experiences over the intervening years. Your contribution can be in any form, from a letter or article to a snippet of news or a simple photo caption, and can be submitted electronically via e-mail or in hard copy format by post to the address below.

was being issued with various newspaper clippings and asked to analyse newspaper and editorials to understand the meaning and intention of the language used. This creativity in engaging pupils is still a rare skill today. Elsewhere in this edition you’ll find the usual reports from the President, Headmaster and Membership Secretary, and an excellent crop of letters from OAs around the world – including the latest offering from ‘The Berts’, which takes an affectionate look at life in the CCF in the 1950s. My thanks, as always, to everyone who contributed to this issue, and I look forward to receiving plenty of material for the Autumn edition which should be published in November. Nick Chappin (75) Editor

l Length There is no limit to length, but as a guide a page in the ‘Bulletin’ is around 450 words. Please note that we reserve the right to edit the text as appropriate. l Photos Photographs on any subject are always welcome. They can be submitted either electronically (preferably in JPG format) or in hard copy format to the address below. Once scanned, the originals will be returned to the sender. Both colour and black and white photos are acceptable, as the ‘Bulletin’ is printed in mono but appears online in full colour.

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


OA Bulletin june 2011

President’s Notes

Wintering well n Old Albanian Club President Stephen Burgess looks back on a successful winter, and in particular an encouraging first season in the National Leagues for the OA rugby club

Did You Winter Well? As some of you may know, I have been a keen cyclist for many years – a passion shared by the headmaster Andrew Grant. A friend of mine who also cycled asked me the above question in early spring. He wanted to know if I had kept in good health, if I had managed to keep riding in the difficult cold weather, and how I had coped with January and February this year, two of the dullest months in recent winters. I was able to assure him that I had coped pretty well. I am thankful for the good genes given to me which help if you like exercise and sport as I do. A Great Start in the National League This brings me to the success of the Rugby Club this year. As you may know, Old Albanians won promotion to National Two League last season, just three levels below the Premiership. I am glad to say that under the coaching leadership of James Shanahan the team coped very well. They played expansive and very entertaining rugby finishing in 5th place, winning 17 games, drawing 1 and losing 12. Eight of the games lost were by less than one score! It was not just the first team who did well; the second, thirds and fourths all had outstanding seasons and the fifths had a better than 50:50 record. Junior Rugby continues to prosper with the Colts doing very well in national competitions. They all

wintered well. As a regular supporter of the rugby at Woollams I am always glad to see stalwart supporters Nigel Cartwright, Roy Bacon and Roger Cook, all in their eighties, stalking the touchline and providing great support and good company. Long may they winter well. Cricket The cricket season has just started with a determination to improve on last season. The vibes certainly seem better and I look forward to seeing improvement in practice. We have the facilities, and I know that Tony Dalwood is determined to get the cricket club up to the standards achieved by the rugby club. I wish him and the teams every success. Tennis and Other Sports I was recently at Woollams and was pleased to see tennis being coached and played in the morning. Later in the day there was at least 50 people training, as rugby and cricket is not just played at the weekend but junior teams play regularly


OA Bulletin june 2011

on midweek evenings. I have mentioned before how pleased I am to see Woollams used by so many people covering a number of sports. The OAs and the School host many other organisations outside the school and OA orbit, providing sporting opportunity for the wider community.

drama and music. Your money will be well spent.

The Dinner Over the last few years we have struggled to find the right formula for our Annual Dinner. There seems to be limited support for a traditional dinner with two or three St Albans School Foundation speakers including a guest speaker. Your I was recently able to get a sneak preview committee is obliged to hold a dinner under of the Annual Review of the St Albans the rules and this year has decided to hold School Foundation. Good progress has been a relatively informal supper at the school made over the last few years in September. I hope many of and I understand the report you will come along to this. is to be sent to all OAs. I am I was able Looking further ahead we are glad to say that a number of exploring the possibility of a to attend a my contemporaries are listed London Dinner. as donors, one of whom I have The London Drinks Party ceremony at the not seen since I left school. I has built up very successfully will not mention names but in recent years and we think school when the he used to ride to school on a spring dinner in London an all-chrome racing bike. could do well especially with first turf was A number of us were quite younger OAs. Your comments jealous of his bike. At the age will be appreciated. cut for the new of 56 I was able to buy a partchromed racing bike. It took Did you Winter Well? sports hall me 38 years to half catch up! Back to where I started. I I was able to attend a hope you wintered well, are ceremony at the school when enjoying the lovely spring and the first sod (turf) was cut by my great after some decent but not too prolonged friend Ian Jennings, in preparation for the spells of rain, appreciate a fine summer. new sports hall and swimming pool being This applies to those of you in the UK constructed. These projects could go ahead but with seasonal adjustments for those as a result of planning permission finally overseas. I look forward to seeing many of being obtained on the King Harry field, for you on Founders Day. Good Health. which the school still had a lease. Stephen Burgess The Foundation was never intended to President, Old Albanian Club help on these projects but to establish longterm and continuing support for our old school. There are some exciting projects being planned notably improving the Gateway and extending opportunities in


OA Bulletin june 2011

Headmaster’s Notes

Weathering difficulties

of the English Schools Cup. In the latter, led home by Robin O’Connor and Mark n Despite the disruptions to sports and Pearce in 3rd and 4th place they scored an other activities caused by the severe winter, unassailable 25 points to emerge among Headmaster Andrew Grant looks back on the hot favourites for the final, which was another successful six months for the School due to be held in December. Unfortunately, by then, the venue, Alnwick Castle in At this stage of the year, the Northumberland, was invisible to the previous Bulletin is always a human eye under a couple of metres long while ago, so, because of of snow. The final was rescheduled for the way the school year pans March and the team started the spring out, there is always quite a term well with a win in the County AAA lot of news and catching up championship. on it takes me back a couple Unlike last year, the of terms. At the Carol CCF winter camp this time The very low, albeit snowsurvived the climate, albeit Services which free temperatures towards under conditions of extreme the end of the autumn term cold, and RSM Wilson closed the term, resulted in the cancellation reported that 87 cadets and of a number of rugby fixtures eight officers deployed to the Choir were in which we would have Yardley Chase training area, expected to do well, though spending the first night in superb voice, the final match against under canvas on various Aylesbury Grammar survived, successful overnight exercises ably supported by and an escape and evasion allowing us to reverse last year’s defeat. Notwithstanding exercise the next day, all of trumpeters the truncated season, the First which expended over 5,000 XV ended with a win rate of blank rounds, 40 smoke 80%, well ahead of the wholegrenades and 40 battle noise School aggregate of 74% and good enough simulators! for 10th place in the season-long Evening Sadly, the autumn concert was the one Standard league. Across the School the A event to fall victim to the weather, but team laurels went to the Under-14s with a at the Carol Services which closed the 91% success rate. term, the Choir were in superb voice, ably The girls, too, had an outstanding netball supported by trumpeters and very large season, with a 78% win rate, good enough congregations on both occasions. The for second place in the corresponding run up to Christmas had begun with an performance and all-comers leagues. ambitious production of ‘Our Country’s Highlight of the cross country season Good’, notable for some fine principal so far were the outstanding performances performances, and a lively Lower School of the intermediate team in first the Christmas Evening which broke new and divisional and then the regional rounds entertaining ground by supplementing


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the music and poetry with a series of a marked reduction in the usual number of playlets of Hilaire Belloc’s ‘Cautionary offers with some famous names receiving Tales’ carried off with great confidence and far fewer than us, so in bucking this trend aplomb. we have had a very good year that keeps This time last year I was predicting the us in company with the most academic most intensely competitive year in history schools in the country. for university entrance. I was right, but Immediately after half term, former since then and the announcement of the Chairman of Governors, Ian Jennings cut Coalition’s new approach to university the first turf to begin construction of the funding, every commentator, including me, long-awaited sports hall and swimming has been certain that 2011 will make 2010 pool; thereafter, the machines moved in look like a golden age of plenty. To all the to take over the job from him and, thanks conditions putting pressure to the exceptionally good on the system last year has weather, progress has already been added a collapse in the Twenty one been rapid. usual numbers opting for a The spring term ended in members of the gap year – for obvious reasons a veritable feast of academic, – in a desperate scramble to intellectual and cultural Third Form joined beat the rise in tuition fees. activity, of which the Joint We were pleased then, that Schools’ Concert, this year pupils across the of the 154 UCAS applicants led by our own School and the School has processed this directed by Mick Stout, was country to write, year, at the last count, all but a highlight, with a superb one have at least one offer. programme of ambitious edit and shoot Oxbridge offers held up choral and orchestral music. well, with seven places offered In the same week, 21 news video at each university. To OAs members of the Third Form who attended the School in joined pupils across the the 50s, 60s or 70s this may country to write, edit and not seem a particularly high total, but shoot news video as part of the BBC School since those halcyon days, the evolution Report project, three of them making of almost all colleges to co-education has, the national news with an interview of alone, served to double the competition for England Captain John Terry, whilst our places among male candidates and, taken mathematicians, physicists and French together with other changes to Oxbridge linguists were all busy doing well in local selection and wider social, educational and and national tournaments and our Fourth demographic changes over the past few Form Design Technologists won the annual decades, has made it very much tougher local Rotary Technology Tournament. than it used to be to get into a highlyOther innovations embraced an evening selective university. of chanson and Lieder with the Modern Anecdote-swapping among HMC Languages Poetry Group, at which 11 Sixth colleagues revealed that most schools saw Formers were joined by two professional


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singers and a pianist in the Library for an evening of songs set to music by Fauré, Poulenc, Shubert and Strauss. The linguists had a busy time of it with a debating competition in German against Highgate School, whilst in the same week, the Library hosted a celebration of the successful completion of GCSE Higher Projects and A-level Extended Projects. The finished works ranged from ‘Artificial Intelligence’ to ‘Political Dystopia in European Literature’ by way of ‘The fall of Athenian democracy’, and ‘Asteroid Impact with Earth’ and a study into the scientific feasibility of fire-breathing dragons. It was a term of great sporting success, the most distinguished of which was the conclusion to the intermediate crosscountry squad’s campaign with their coronation in the postponed final of the English Schools Cup at Alnwick. They won by the largest winning margin (95 points) in the history of the event. As National Champions the team win the right to represent England in the World

Schools Championships in 2012, scheduled to be held in Malta. Also to be celebrated was the victory of the U12 Football team, crowned District Champions after beating Verulam School in the final on the penultimate day of term. The Easter holiday was as eventful as ever, with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award alone occupying 124 pupils and 18 staff at various points over the holiday. Add to this the annual ski trip – somewhat short of snow this year – the Millfield cricket and tennis Camp, a trip for our golfers to Dorset Golf and Country Club in Bere Regis, a CCF RAF section camp at RAF Halton and success at Bisley for two sixth formers contributing their skills to the OA shooting team in the Q Match and the three-day week that started the new term may well have been a welcome recovery period for a good many of our staff and students! Andrew Grant Headmaster



OA Bulletin june 2011


OA Lodge

The great architect n Assistant Secretary John Williams pays tribute to School Architect David Morgan as he retires from both his architectural practice and as Chaplain of the Lodge

The Lodge year commenced at the Installation meeting on Saturday 14th May when the new Master of the Lodge, Ian Parker, was installed in the Chair in an exemplary manner by the outgoing Master David Worden. Ian is a former master of the School. One of our most senior members – an officer of Grand Lodge – subsequently commented that it really was an excellent evening and that there was no better Lodge anywhere in the world, and he have seen a few! Following his installation, our new Master appointed the Lodge Officers for the ensuing year, many of which are of course progressive posts. One exception is the office of Chaplain, a post which is not progressive and has been occupied for the past few years by David Morgan, a senior member of the Lodge and the School Architect. It was David’s 83rd birthday that very day and he had decided sometime previously that he felt at long last the time had come to stand down. He wasn’t getting any younger after all! I asked David if he would draft a few words to assist me with this Bulletin entry to mark his retirement from both his

architectural practice and as Chaplain of the Lodge and he kindly produced the following: “Some time ago at a Lodge meeting, the then Secretary John Williams asked all those present, and particularly the elderly Masons, to write their own draft obituaries, a request that caused much laughter. I thought that this was a really sensible suggestion as it would save someone (i.e. the Secretary!) an awful lot of work when the inevitable occurred. I certainly don’t intend this to be an obituary but I have had an absorbing career as an architect which may be of some interest. I was born in Shanghai in 1928 and returned ‘home’ to St Albans with my family in 1937. I started school at Woollams in that year and joined the main school with my older brothers in 1938. I was pretty dim at school – but I did enjoy all the art lessons with Bob Tanner – what a lovely man! When the war came my father became very apprehensive and when his large pension was sequestrated by the Chinese we became penniless. Sadly he had a massive heart attack thereafter and died. My two brothers subsequently joined the Royal Air Force, John becoming a fighter pilot and George a bomber pilot – and I was so, so proud of them! Then in 1944 and 1945 we received two dreaded telegrams from the War Office, the shock of which remains with me to this day. Surely even in 1945 there could have been a gentler way of saying to my mother

OA Bulletin june 2011

David Morgan at the OA Lodge Garden Party in 2010

that you had now lost two sons? By that time my mother had converted our large house in Battlefield Road into a guest-house to make ends meet. The first couple we had was a young man called Duggie Owen and his wife Pamela. Duggie, of

course, eventually became Chairman of the Governors. During the summer of 1945 I was summoned to the Headmaster’s study. I shall never forget it – I was only 17. He said that the Governors were very sympathetic to the dreadful



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happenings to the Morgan family 77 for the School – and is now well and they had agreed that I could under way. If you visit the School at stay on as a non-fee paying pupil. the moment you will see a vast hole He said “You won’t pass any exams in the orchard! – but make yourself useful.” He I was very touched indeed when was so very kind. Before I left in the Chairman, Headmaster, Bursar 1946, I was awarded my colours in and a Governor of the School rugby, cricket and shooting, and recently took me out to dinner and was Flight Sergeant of the ATC. presented me with two watercolour My two years in the RAF as an paintings of the School buildings. ‘erk’ were uneventful and when These had a note pasted on the back, I was demobbed I commenced an which said: architectural course in London. “May we take the opportunity This changed my life. I suddenly to say how greatly the School has found that I was in the top quartile valued your immense contribution of everything I did. After to the ‘property life blood’ qualifying I spent two of the School; the Old Hall most enjoyable years with horizontal division, the British Railways helping to Science Block extension, design a Euro-Terminal at the Art and Languages St Pancras. Subsequently and the Fitness Suites, Beeching et al had other along with many other ideas and the project was The late Mackenzie projects, quite apart from put on the back burner. I Taylor the two major projects of promptly left and set up Woollam’s Pavilion and the shop with Geoff Cannon in a shed new sports hall and swimming pool in his mother’s back garden. We development.” were on the point of starvation when It was with much sadness at the we won our first local authority January meeting this year that school project at Leverstock Green. members of the Lodge learnt of Thereafter, slowly but surely, the death by suicide the previous school projects came our way. My November of Andrew Taylor, aged first project for St Albans School only 32, the only son of Steve Taylor, was in 1973 – alterations to the a senior member and Past Master of King Harry sports pavilion. When the Lodge and a Grand Officer. I very recently fully retired in 2011 Andrew Iain Mackenzie Taylor, (Editor’s note: aged 83 – although whose took the stage name of he still appears to be in the office ‘Mackenzie Taylor’, was a comedian at least 3 hours a day!) the last job by profession who was becoming had been the design of the School’s very successful on the stand-up new swimming pool and sports hall circuit. He regularly gigged around complex. This was project number the UK and at the Edinburgh

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festival and was one of the creators in 2006 of the Edinburgh fringe cult Phone Book Live!, in which performers including Nicholas Parsons, Les Dennis and Maureen Lipman attempted to entertain fans by doing nothing but reading from the telephone directory for 15 minutes. The money raised went to the charity Mind. Mackenzie had been first diagnosed with bipolar schizoaffective disorder at the age of 15. Medication helped to stabilise his illness and he did not dwell on the experience on stage until his show No Straitjacket Required which did much to demystify his bipolar schizoaffective disorder at the 2009 Edinburgh festival fringe. Mackenzie politely apologised to anyone in the audience who had turned up expecting a tribute to Phil No Jacket Required Collins. In the show he managed to find humour in the darkest of places, jokily placing himself above Stephen Fry on a mental-illness league table. He described his condition as being like having a bad modern jazz band constantly playing in his head. Mackenzie’s career had recently seemed to be taking off. Last summer he performed another well-received show in Edinburgh, Joy, which celebrated the positive aspects of life. He had also recently taken part in an innovative, groundbreaking BBC Radio Berkshire project, Warning: May Contain Nuts, organised by the arts charity Company Paradiso, which

set out to raise awareness of mental illness by staging standup comedy nights and writing workshops about the subject. The Lodge does not meet again until September, except for the summer barbeque and garden party in late June shared with the Old Verulamians Lodge and hosted by our Provincial Grand Charity steward, Dick Knifton and his wife Gill. This is open to Masons and non-masons alike and should any OAs like to join us this year, please contact the Assistant Secretary as below. 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 Assistant Secretary will be delighted to hear from them. The Lodge website address is: John Williams Lodge Assistant Secretary



OA Bulletin june 2011

Passage of time n Membership Secretary Roger Cook is reminded of the passing years as familiar names appear in this edition’s obituaries

All OA Bulletins from May 2004 onwards are on the oaconnect web site. I have added a contents list of these, which I hope to keep up to date in the future. I have been reminded of the passing of time as OAs who I remembered at school are recorded

in the obituary columns. I knew my friend, David Cannon, at school, university and during most of the years since then. His obituary is included elsewhere. I underestimated the sales of OA ties when I ordered the last batch; however, some ties are still in stock (£13 post free). A selection of waifs and strays is shown below, and the full list can be found on the web site. Roger Cook Membership Secretary

Waifs and Strays 1990 – 1999 If you know the current whereabouts of the following please inform Kate Le Sueur at the School’s Development Office or myself. Roger Cook 1990 Richard S. Anderson Thomas P. Aubrey Paul S. Bailey Nigel S. Caron Matthew G. Cooke John Cooper Howard Cornwell David J. Cox James A. Cox Jonathan Dale Joel D. Dodd Mark P. J. Ewing Thomas H. Fisher Mark A. Frost Peter G. Gibbs Jonathan M. Godfrey David K. G. Haddon R Harris Timothy C. Harwood Andrew P. Haycock Julian R. Herbert James A. J. Hopkins Marcus A. Howe Daniel F. Jones Matthew R. Krystman Graham R. Millar John J. Nelson


John W. Pearce Daniel J. Peel Alexander J. Shattock Alexander D. Simmonds Michael Swetman Edward C. Todd Kumar Velupillai Paul J. Webster Peter J. P. White Andrew G. Wildey 1991 Jonathan R. Allen Alan P. J. Baker Tom S. Barnes Nicholas P. Betts Gawain M. Cooke Richard J. Craine Nicholas D. Debere Stevie M. Dodd Simon K. S. Ferrar James N. Hamilton Simon C. Hancock James A. Hill Anton Hirschowitz Matthew C. Janes Benjamin A. Lawrence John S. Magee

James J. G. Merrett Nicholas A. Minter Christopher L. Ord Ben P. Palmer Andrew J. Parkes D. F. H. Payne Simon J. Raine Nicholas D. Robins Hal J. S. Sandbach Tristan J. Sender Robert A. Stewart R. A. J. Thomas Ian J. Titterton Peter J. A. Woolley Christian A. W. Wrighton 1992 A. J. Aldworth A. S. Brooks Nicholas J. V. Burcher Richard E. W. Carden Matthew Casey Nicholas D. Chapman Simon J. Crossley Steven J. Dewsbury Liam S. Dunn Alexander T. S. Green Niaz Haque

Jonathan James Gregory F Kam Nicholas J. Lewis Stephen R. H. Mitchell John R Moore J. Moule Toby D. Pearson David A. Penn Stuart B. Scrivens Jonathan E. P. Simmons Peter A. J. Smith Daniel J. Stevens J. A. Swailes Adam J. D. Torry Matthew Z. Turner Kieran Walsh 1993 T. W. Abraham Steven M. Allen Tony Baxter Benjamin J. M. Campbell Richard Clarke Matthew N. Cooper Amanda J. Driscoll John A Dunn Orlando A. L. Edwards Robert A. Gold

OA Bulletin june 2011

Liam L. Hancock Simon D. Ives Richard S Kam Jamie P. Keen Caroline M. King Michael J. McDonough Stuart J. McMichael James D. Mills Marios Panayiotou Daniel S. Pearman Alan S. K. Pedersen Andrew G. Philips Mark D Powers D. P. Rumsey-Williams David A. L. Seddon Timothy C. Short M. G. Smith Robert H. Tansley Andrew J. Vincent Paul Vincent 1994 J. A. Arnott David R. G. Artis A. C. H. Bailes Thomas B. Clayton Thomas Cooke Nicholas S. J. Fish Robert Fisher Thomas Garrad-Cole Barnaby Gordon George E. Hamilton

Daniel S. Harris Miles Lester R. E. Magesvaran Simon E. Mann Jonathan W. Moss Andrew M. Potter Elliott Pritchard Langley C. Sharp R. A. Simmons Adele Van Uffelen Timothy N. Wild 1995 P. Baroni Jamie O. Chalmers William O. Denholm Sean E. Hancock Nicholas J. H. Harding Bradley A. Hart Daniel L. Jerrard Norman Johnston M. J. Rinberg Andrew J. Robinson Stephen P. Robinson Alastair D Shipp Alistair Walter 1996 Edward J. O. M. Almeida Scot L. Baker Neil B. Batchelor Harriet Bradley

David J. H. Carden Daniel J. Carroll Sarah E. Catton Andrew S. P. Charlwood Jonathan P. Cross Daniel J. Davies Natalia Edwards Adam D. Leveson Tony J. McBride Adam P. J. McCann Adam M. Osper Samuel L. Potter Georgina L. Ripper Claire J. Roberts Jalal U. S. Saad Matthew J. Timmis Matthew B. N. Trudgill Ben B. White 1997 Michael Christodoulides Andrew Davis Hiren M. Davis Stuart Day Benjamin Flatter Christopher J. Harnetty Gavin Khalin Dean C. Morgan Tony Morris Dean M. Smith Paul R Summers Alex Wood

Christopher J. Wright 1998 Iain J. Buchanan Sean N. Carroll James R. Colebrook Natasha Laurier Joseph M. Leveson Samuel A. Michaelides Clinton B. Mitchell Richard B. P. Myers Luisa Newman Thomas G. Perrin Craig E. Prescott Michael J. Rawlings Alexander H. Roskoss Stuart T. Summers Wing-Guy Tang James W. Targett Sophie Waters 1999 Stuart Downs Peter H. Embling William A. J. Fletcher Daniel R. Gilson Daniel Graves Anan K. Mallick James A. Marks Benjamin T. Rodney

From the Archive The School Yard in 1942 – photo supplied by Deryck Perkins



OA Bulletin june 2011

De Fortunis Albanorum l Jonathan Stroud will be at Watford Central Library as part of Hertfordshire’s LitFest 2011. He is a prolific writer of fantasy novels one of which The Ring of Solomon was short-listed for the 2010 Costa Children’s Book Award. l Andrew Pilsworth of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment is awaiting his second tour of duty in Helmand Province. l Steve Bates is leaving his coaching position with Aviva Premiership rugby union side Newcastle Falcons, and will be taking up the newly created post of Director of Sport for Fettes College in Edinburgh in September 2011.

Deaths It is with regret that the following deaths are announced: l Biddy Hodge (Honorary Old Albanian). An obituary written by Brian Moody appears below. l Arthur Lewis (36), one of our most venerable OAs who has recently donated books to the School Archive, died on the 25th January 2011. An obituary, including information provided by his daughter Sara Fotheringham, appears below. l Frank G Armour (41) died at Horsham in November 2010 at the age of 88. He pursued a career in accountancy. His daughter Carole


was born in 1955 with spina bifida, but due to her parents’ loving care she is today living a normal life. Frank and his wife became founder members of the Sussex and later the National Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, which today provides valued service to sufferers and parents. This included his being their first national Hon Sec and later Treasurer. l Michael Martin (42) died on the 5th December 2010. l Neville Cook (47) died on 12th February 2011, shortly before his 82nd birthday. Letters received tell of various escapades, including the recovery of unexploded incendiary bombs which he let off by hitting them with a hammer in order to get practice with a stirrup pump – WTM often watched this performance. He claims to have owed his life to rats. They had not eaten the poison he had laid so when he collapsed at the bottom of his garden he ate the poison and the warfarin acted and allowed him to get back to the house! A resourceful man. A full obituary by regular Bulletin correspondent Anthony J Lane (48) appears below. l Gary Astley (49). An obituary written by Robin Ollington appears below. l David Cannon (49) – an obituary by his brother Geoff Cannon appears below.

OA Bulletin june 2011

l Colonel Robert Hume (52) died on the 9th November 2010 aged 76. He had been suffering from cancer. l Keith Finley – teacher of English and Divinity at the School from the 1950s to the 1980s, died on 29th November 2010. An obituary by David Canning appears below. l Phillip Lloyd (68) died peacefully at home in December 2010. l Simon Turner (76) died on the 1st January 2011. On leaving school he had taken up teaching, spending a lot of time at Queen Elizabeth’s School, Blackburn. An obituary written at that school is included below. l Chris West died in May 2011 after collapsing on holiday in South Africa. His son Paul West writes: “I know that he recently visited the School Museum with some friends and enjoyed it immensely, so he clearly still had fond memories.”

Obituary l Biddy Hodge Those members acquainted with Biddy Hodge, who died on 9th December after 94 energetic years in St Albans, cannot have failed to be impressed by her unquenchable thirst for knowledge of local people and events. She was born at about the time when her father, F M Walker, came to St Albans School from the Isle of Wight to take charge of the School boarding house at Monastery Close, previous a home of

Charles Ashdown. (Boarders were of increasing importance to the School, but their purpose-built School House was not nearly big enough.) She said that one of her earliest memories was of the victory processions going past the house in Abbey Mill Lane after the 1914-18 war. So Biddy grew up in a very scholarly environment, in fact she was almost regarded as a St Albans School pupil. Afterwards she became a teacher, like her father, and was for many years headmistress of the independent Lyndale School in St Albans, where several masters from St Albans School were part-time teachers. She was also a notable hockey player as well as a mother of four. So it is perhaps not surprising that she did not have time to join the Arc. and Arc., but some years ago she presented to the Society a copy of her excellent book on the life of Sir John Blundell Maple and family. I was lucky to spend many interesting hours with her, exchanging information about local history and many other subjects.

Obituary l Arthur Lewis (36) Major Arthur Lewis MBE who ‘shuffled off this mortal coil’ in Melbourne Australia on 25th January sent us an email only last year to recount his happy memories of life at the School between the wars. “I would love to revisit”, he wrote, “but at nearly 93 I can’t see it happening. I am proud to be an antique OA.”



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If Arthur was ‘antique’, then surely he was in name only – for even in his 90s he was abreast of the latest technology with his finances managed electronically, his classical music collection pumped out through stereophonic speakers wired to his television screen, and his Outlook diary and e-mail system precisely synchronised with his prized iPhone4. At the time of his passing after a mercifully short illness, Arthur was pursuing an online course on the ‘History of Civilisation’ just to make sure that his great well of knowledge was up to date! Although Arthur told us a little of his extraordinary life of community service then, he did so with a delightful modesty for, truly, only a very special Englishman would have been asked to join the Parliament of a central African nation in the early days of independence. Mostly surely one of OAs’ finest. Vale: Arthur Lewis (1917-2011) Family man with a long and happy marriage (with his Peggy for 70 years) Architect: A, FRIBA, Founder President: Zambian Institute of Architects Soldier: Staff Officer, Royal Engineers, British Army, Major, W,S,Captain Painter and Artist Amateur Actor and Director: Founder Kitwe Little Theatre, Secretary to Theatre and Music Associations of Zambia


Commandant of the Police Reserve in Zambia, in troubled times President Probus Club of Melbourne (South East Region) Awarded the MBE for cultural services to the community in Zambia. Prefect, St Albans School, 1936.

Obituary l Neville S J Cook (47) “School prefect, Head of Woollams, School Cert. 1945, CQMS JTC, Band, Captain 3rd XV, Shooting VIII, Choir, Orchestra, Music Club, Chairman Gramophone Club” – so read the Valete of N S J Cook (Cook II, OA 47) which certainly gives the picture of a good all-rounder. However, those bold facts don’t by any means do justice to the character who went by that name. I can claim to have known him well since we had nine years altogether as school mates at two different schools, travelling together daily, train-boys from Mill Hill for the six years we overlapped at St Albans. We bonded on a backwoodman’s holiday with Gerald Robinson (now a noted architect in Toronto and Professor at Trinity College there) in a furniture shack on the shores of Lake Ullswater, just after the War, a taste of freedom for which we were just ready. Another experience shared by the three of us had been a prefects’ caning, for not going straight back to school after lunch at the British Restaurant (vegetable pie probably, with Oxo gravy). I had the privilege of serving

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as best man at his first wedding and then as Godfather to his first child. So when he died in February, I immediately felt I must rise to the challenge of coming up with a penportrait of a truly remarkable man, who both widened and deepened my capacity for amazement and wonder. To begin with, the story behind ‘Head of Woollams’ is that Neville was going to have to board for his last year, as his parents were moving away from Hendon. Whether or not it was due to Daddy Read having given up as Housemaster at Woollams, discipline there seems not to have been what it was. So, Headmaster Marsh trusted Neville with the job of Head of the House, with a mandate to sort things out. Boarders thought of themselves as a race apart, looking down on ‘daygrubs’, but Neville seems to have survived what must have been a very difficult situation in which, to begin with at least, he would have been actively resented. A notable fact of his earlier school career, before he reached years of discretion, though not recorded in his Valete, was that despite having an enquiring mind, curious about what constituents could be used to cause an explosion, he did just manage to blow the School up. Though I seem to remember an incident involving a thunder flash and a piece of metal piping, which resulted in a visit to casualty. Deryck Perkins recalls Neville Cook arriving one morning at the little prep day school in Mill Hill,

which we all attended, on a fire engine, his father being our local Fire Chief (I wouldn’t put it past him to have been ringing the bell). Until his voice broke he had a career as a boy soprano, appearing on at least one occasion as the same bill as Richard Tauber. I don’t know if he ever had an Equity card, but he can be spotted as a recognisable schoolboy extra in one of Will Hay’s films. The best story he had of his early years was of a trip his father, as a Fire Chief, had to take with a delegation of a ‘goodwill’ visit to the pre-War German fire services. He took his wife and small son with him, and at a rally of some kind, Hitler was present. The young Neville was pressed into service to present Adolf with flowers, only to be rewarded with a kiss from the Führer! I’m assured that photographic evidence exists of this surreal event. Into the bargain, Neville was given an armband making him an honorary member of the Hitler Youth. His father had been decorated in the First World War, serving in France with the Royal Horse Artillery. When it came to National Service, Neville was not to be satisfied unless he got into the RHA, subsequently somehow even inveigling himself into the King’s troop, royal salutes, musical rides and all! (I’d never known of him ever before having anything to do with horses). He left his mark on the Army since on one occasion a mare



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for which he was responsible finished up in foal when it shouldn’t have. Another time, he somehow managed to prang three army vehicles at one go. Neville never after that trusted himself to drive, having to do everything by public transport. His interests were legion. In addition to his own career he and his wife ran a smallholding which local schoolchildren were brought to visit. Then there was pond building, fishing, carriage repairing and his collection of agricultural implements amounting in the end to a minimuseum. At one school where he taught he ran a large and very successful Cadet Corps. Its activities became well enough known for him to have been invited to join a committee helping set up the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, which involved hobnobbing with the Duke in person. When life perforce became rather more sedentary he wasn’t satisfied until he’d been able to explore the Koran. Above all, there was his family – two exceptionally bright boys by his first wife, then by his second wife a Downs Syndrome son, of whose achievements he was very proud, and two delightful daughters. Their tributes on his death were very moving. Neville’s career was as a Biology teacher, for which, from all accounts, he had a real gift. A former colleague of his I met at his funeral, confirmed what I had always suspected – his success in Biology teaching was down just to

boundless enthusiasm. A former pupil put something on Facebook at the time of his 80th birthday and he was overwhelmed by the number of responses. One woman wrote “you made science so interesting for me that I went on to study Zoology, and ended up with a PhD”. Another reminisced “your lessons were legendary, especially the sex education with pupils bunking off their own lessons to join yours!” The words ‘legendary’ and ‘inspirational’ cropped up over and over again. The enquiring nature of his mind stood out in stark relief when, after a heart attack, he was given the choice of a frankly experimental operation, with less guarantee than usual of survival. He went for it cheerfully, just fascinated by all it involved. It gave him, in fact, another 12 years of life. However, even that life has now come to an end. He phoned me from his hospital bed a couple of days before he died, and certain that his time had at last come. From what he said it was clear that his mind was still as enquiring as ever, and then he was just curious, and not a little excited I think, to be on the verge of discovering what lies beyond, in the hereafter. His ashes are to be scattered at Lake Ullswater.

Obituary l Gary Astley (49) News has reached us of the death in August 2010 of Gary Astley. Joining the school from Potters Bar High School he will probably

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be remembered for his prowess as a tennis player. Despite the fact that at that time the sport did not figure too highly in the range of activities, such was his skill that not only did he rank 8th in the country as a junior, he was also coached by Dan Maskell and later was the Herts Senior Champion. National Service saw him winning the InterArmy Doubles. His name is still remembered at the School on the Astley Cup for Tennis donated by his father. Leaving in 1949 to qualify as a chartered accountant, followed by National Service commissioned with the Suffolk Regiment, he saw service in Cyprus during the Turkish Greek troubles. Following demobilisation his accountancy career continued, at one time as the audit manager for the Kariba Dam Project in Rhodesia, then with CIBA Geigy as company secretary and P.A. to the Chairman. Whilst with them he spotted the value that could be obtained with automated payrolls and so with his brother Nick (OA) set up a highly successful company – Computer Payrolls. Sport continued to play a part in his life with rugger for the OAs, golf, tennis and hockey for a local team into his 50s and yachting with a variety of friends in a variety of craft. At home in Hertfordshire with his family he enjoyed country pursuits, even at one time riding in the Enfield Chase Point to Point and in later years, despite his growing

disability, he enjoyed walking his dogs. To quote his son at the Memorial Service – “my father would say ‘I’ve had a super time’” and those of us who knew Gary can hear him saying it.

Obituary l David Cannon (49) As I am the only person who new David for all his 79 years, I can give a short resumé of his life. David was born in Hitchin and I understand that when my mother showed me my new baby brother I commented: “He’s no good; I can’t play with him!” We then lived in Bournemouth and moved to St Albans in 1936. We both attended the school where David made life-long friends. He never forgot how much he owed to the School, especially when our father died and the headmaster waived the fees for both of us. This enabled David to sit his highers. Unexpectedly, he won a scholarship to Lincoln College, Oxford to read chemistry. Latin was required for entry to Oxford and, having been on the science side, David had never done any Latin. Consequently, for a whole school term he studied nothing else and always joked that all the Latin he knew had been learnt in 12 weeks. As a scholar he was expected to say the college Latin grace in hall and later always maintained he could feel the classics don wince at his lack of fluency and massacring of the pronunciation.



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David did have another side to his studious character. While still at school he was apprehended by the police for shooting a cow in the kneecap with a homemade gun. After a wigging by the Chief Constable, he was brought home in a police car. His comment to his mother was “What a super car.” After graduating, David was called up to do National Service where he was asked what trade he wished to train for. Was he thinking of catering for example? He replied that he wanting to take a commission but was told that would not be possible. Quite simply, he had failed his test on entry and was classified as educationally subnormal. He then explained to the astonishment of those interviewing him that he was an Oxford chemistry graduate but had never taken an IQ test before. He then resat the test, took a commission and passed out as the top cadet in the Royal Signals. He always claimed that this was because he was one of the few cadets who had taken physics at highers. He was posted to BAOR and later confessed to keeping his gun in the safe and filling his holster instead with Mars bars. 50 years on, he organised a reunion of the friends he had made in the signals with their wives at a hotel near the signals museum in Blandford Forum. This included a visit to the museum where the staff were delighted to talk to an ex-National Serviceman who remembered using some of the exhibits.

After national service, David joined J A Kemp & Co, a firm of Chartered Patent Agents, as a trainee. He and Catherine were married in 1962 and came to live in Redbourn. He qualified as a Patent Agent in 1965 and was made a partner in 1966, the same year as Louise was born. James was born three years later. At Kemps, David specialised in pharmaceuticals, and in particular extending the life of patents. He loved his work and Catherine used to tease him that the office in Gray’s Inn was his favourite place. When the nature of his speciality changed, he decided to do a correspondence course for the Law Society exams. He passed them and was then generously released by his Kemp partners to become an articled clerk with a City firm of solicitors. There he joined the articled clerks who were, of course, less than half his age. On one occasion he mentioned that he had served in the army and one asked him “in which war?”, blushing scarlet when he realised what he had said. David returned to Kemps after completing his two-year articles and set up as a sole practitioner. He remained with Kemps until partly retiring in 1996. Since then he had devoted much of his time to writing a history of the firm and playing a fuller part in professional organisations, the Old Albanian Club and Oxford societies. He also had more time to pursue his other interests. He enjoyed manly years

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of family holidays in the Lake District and joined the Westmorland geological society. A keen walker, he and Catherine also walked the greater part of the South Downs Way and Ridgeway path. He would also spend happy hours planning short walking break with his former Kemp partners and their wives.

Obituary l J M Keith ‘Laddie’ Finley Keith Finley arrived at the School in the mid 1950s, as one of a group of younger masters, who made a lasting impact on all whom they taught. Some moved on quickly, but Keith continued to make a massive and challenging contribution to the life of the School and its pupils until taking early retirement, some 30 years later. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1927, Keith was brought up in Carlisle, where he attended the Grammar School. He left in 1945 to do his National Service in the Royal Navy, as a signalman aboard minesweepers. He went up to Sidney Sussex Cambridge in 1948, to read English and Theology, where his major impact on University life was on the athletics track. He won the University 100 and 200 yards sprints every year and was elected President of the Athletics Club in 1951. He was part of the combined Oxford & Cambridge team of 1949, including Bannister, Brasher and Chataway, which beat Harvard and Yale, and he also represented Great Britain in the International Student Games.

In 1950 he had clocked 9.9 seconds for the 100 yards at Fenners (the same time that McDonald Bailey posted in winning the UK Championship that year). On his election as President, Varsity commented that his first innovation was to introduce gymnasium classes for athletes – what a different world! How much faster might he have run, had he abandoned smoking, already a regular habit which he was never to kick? After Cambridge, he taught English at Berkhamsted and Retford Grammar School, before coming to St Albans to teach Divinity and English. His immediate impact might best be described in a quotation from Stephen Hawking’s biographers (Michael White and John Gribbin): “Much remembered and highly thought of was a master fresh out of university… who, way ahead of his time, taped radio programmes and used them as launch points for discussion classes with 3A. The subject matter ranged from nuclear

A pensive Keith Finley on a train



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disarmament to birth control, and everything in between. By all accounts, he had a profound effect on the intellectual development of the thirteen-year-olds in his charge, and his lessons are still fondly remembered by the journalists, writers, doctors and scientists they have become today.” He was determined to challenge his pupils to intellectual debate and was keen to introduce them to the topics that fascinated him, whether philosophical. He was genuinely concerned about the separation between arts and sciences. The debate between C P Snow and F R Leavis, as well as theological issues raised by Robinson and Bonhoeffer, featured strongly in his classes of the early 60s. Eventually the title of his lessons evolved from ‘Divinity’ to ‘Every One Thing’, better reflecting their broader nature. Always seeking alternatives to the conventional, his sense of service to the community led him to develop social service alternatives to the CCF – an early example of volunteer outreach to the wider community. Outside the classroom Keith was an enthusiastic coach, not only of athletics but also of rugby, and he was particularly involved in theatre. He will be most remembered for his productions of the Latecomers, The Winslow Boy, Peer Gynt and Enrico Quarto, and as assistant producer of Julius Caesar, the cast of which included both Mike Newell and Stephen Hawking – no division between arts and sciences there?

He also appeared with three other masters in Christopher Fry’s Sleep of Prisoners, produced by Dik Tahta in the Abbey’s Lady Chapel. His enduring theatrical legacies to the School, however, were to push his pupils to visit London to see ground-breaking plays by Osborne, Pinter, and Wesker, and to conceive the amphitheatre in the Orchard, ‘Finley’s Folly’, which was built with the headmaster’s active support and remains in use more than 40 years on. But, despite his passion for Moira Shearer, he failed to convince any of his pupils that The Red Shoes was the best film ever made. Beyond the school gates he was an active lay preacher and he enjoyed playing his oboe in the St Albans City Orchestra and with the School when he had the chance. He can be heard in the Pastoral Symphony from the Messiah in the recent CD of the 1958 Carol Concert. After retirement he served as LibDem Local Councillor in Park Street for many years and volunteered in the Oxfam bookshop. He also saw all three of his grandsons join the school. For at least one generation of pupils, however, he will best be remembered as a man who took full advantage of not having to teach to a prescribed curriculum, and who sought enthusiastically to challenge us to think for ourselves – the essence of good teaching. Ringing in these ears still is one of Keith’s mantras of the time: “Have yuh not read yuh Popper yet, laddie?”

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him to enhance the support and l Simon Turner (76) encouragement of all pupils. Simon’s Simon went to Queen Elizabeth’s diplomacy and sense of fairness, his Grammar School Blackburn in drive and ability to innovate, not September 1991. He quickly made least with introduction of a School an impact as a charismatic teacher Council, were all qualities which of French, demonstrating excellent won him the respect of pupils, rapport with pupils and colleagues colleagues and parents alike, and he and managing also to teach an ab took pride in the glowing comments initio Spanish course whilst still in the ISI Inspection report of 2005, learning the language himself! His which praised the pastoral work in command and passion the school. for everything French, He contributed including modern films energetically to other and haute cuisine as key areas of life in well as an unsurpassed the school, including command of the spoken Assessment and language, led to Siman Reporting, Co-education being a standard bearer and Child Protection. for Modern Languages Less well known were in the curriculum his football refereeing, both in the school and in the French Film nationally, culminating Club and his marathon in his work as principal OA Simon Turner walking tours around examiner for AS/A level Paris. Simon left Queen French with the AQA. Elizabeth’s in the summer of 2008, In 1995 Simon was appointed as having suffered health problems Head of Careers, a role he filled for some time. He died peacefully with customary dynamism and flair, at home on the first day of 2011 at taking the work of this department the age of 53. His three daughters, to new levels and making many Victoria, Ella and Georgina are all successful innovations. He delighted Old Blackburnians and to them and in helping many students with all his family we extend our deepest advice both before and throughout sympathies. their university years, and remained in touch with many past pupils of Museum and archive the school. Simon was appointed I should like to record my thanks to Deputy Headmaster (Pastoral) Nigel Wood-Smith for his invaluable in 2000 and proceeded to make a and extensive input to the Archive lasting impact by building a highly and Museum development and to effective team of Heads of Years, Robin Ollington for his input and Tutors and others who worked with advice – and his book St Albans



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School Crime and Punishment which grew out of the Punishment Books of yesteryear. l Brigadier Dennis Rendell’s family has sent us a large amount of his belongings, which include a rugby colours blazer and cap 1938-9, some fascinating scrapbooks of his time at the School, photos and press cutting about Tommy Hampson, and some personal letters. Also a War Office document on map-reading, two black books, CCF Inspection folders 1986 and 1987, and a collection of books ranging from Shakespeare to the OA Centenary book. l John Lake (61) has given a painting by Philip Heather. l Graham Newman (56) has sent an order of service celebrating the 75 years of the Diocese of St Albans in 1952, a series of photographs, Rules of the OA Club and his little black book. l Richard Hickman’s daughter has sent in a miniature cup for small bore shooting which he won when at school. Other items include a photograph of Tommy Hampson being carried round the school


by sixth formers to celebrate his Olympic success. l Ian Jennings has given a copy of the opening of the Woollams playing field 1st September 2002. l D Davies – some photos of the School. l Martin Hawke (60) – a blazer badge. l Cyril Mobbs (42) stumbled across some interesting books in Rome, one being the official souvenir of the St Albans Pageant held in July 1907 which includes an item by C H Ashdown entitled The Site of Verulamium. l Ron Simon (50) – some boarding bills and letters to parents regarding the 1948 Pageant. l Joe Windsor (50) has made a gift to the School of a gun. The Plaque reads “Presented to St. Albans School Shooting Club”. He had, when at School, won the Stanhope Cup and went on to represent RAF Command at Bisley Mike Highstead

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1983 Invincibles n David Morgan (46) sends us a photograph of the unbeaten School First XV from 1983

Back row, left to right: ?, ?, Chris Waite, Shane Roberts, Tim Rich, Jonathan Wharburton, Robin Keiron, Ralph Bird, Harvey Pownell Front row, left to right: ?, Roger Dixon, ?, Mike Pepper, ?, Julian Morgan, St John Potter Coaches: Ian Perkins, Tony Cooper

Racing into history This original halftone print of former master Tommy Hampson leading the 800m race at the 1932 Summer Olympics was spotted for sale at



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‘Celebrities educated here’ n Robert Sharpe’s hobby of collecting antique maps helps unearth some fascinating OAs from history

For my own amusement I have been acquiring the maps of St Albans for 1897 and recently completed the set of four with that for St Albans (SE). On the back of each map is commentary about the area covered and details from Kelly’s Directory of 1899 listing the private and business names and addresses of the population. On this latest acquisition is an entry for The Royal Grammar School which it describes “the most ancient in the kingdom, having been without doubt in existence in some form as early as 1095; it was probably founded by the Saxon Abbott, Ulsinus (946 to 955).” Spot on! It goes on to list some of the “celebrities educated here” (sic) with some details of them. I wonder if any are new to you as some are to me? Although I could believe that Frank K had this at his fingertips! Breakspear (known); Matthew Paris (known but dated 11951259); Sir John Mandeville – a distinguished Oriental traveller, died 1372: Alexander Nequam (known as foster-brother of Richard Coeur de Lion but born in St Albans in 1157 and, after Mastership of the School, became Professor at the University


of Paris, then Abbott of Cirencester and on his death in 1217 was buried in the Abbey); Henry Peacham, author of the Compleat Gentleman, died 1640; Sir Francis Pemberton, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, born in St Albans in 1625 and died 10th June 1697; Sir John King, a celebrated lawyer of the 17th Century; Sir William Domville, Kt, Lord Mayor of London in 1814, who died on 8th February 1833; Abraham Cowley, poet, born 1618, died 28th July 1667; and Professor Thomas Leverton Donaldson, architect, born 17th October 1705. There were 12 Governors with the Archdeacon (Lawrence) as Chairman and about 100 boys (scholars!). The Headmaster was Wilcox and the Second Master was Rev George J Yates MA. The Assistant Masters were C H Ashdown, Herr F X Keller and Lionel A Fanshawe BA. Elsewhere P W Dumville was listed as Clerk to the Governors. Whether he was one of the Debenham partners, we would have to ask Richard D. Hope this is of some interest.

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From the Archive School House VII rugby team

School Prefects 1942 – photos supplied by Deryck Perkins

Left: School rugby 1964 Above: A school trip c.1960 – photos supplied by Roger Callender



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Speaking out n John Marsh (41) looks back at some of the valuable life lessons learned during his time at the School

It is a fact that some happenings remain for a lifetime in a person’s memory, and the mention by Roger Seymour of Mr F Read in the December issue brings back to me one such unforgettable event. I was in the Junior School, Form 2B, aged about 11 years. Mr Read taught us English and the culmination of several lessons was to stand up in front of the form to give what Mr Read called “a lecturette”. One had free choice of subject, and the maximum time for such oration was two minutes. I chose ‘butterflies’, not that I had a great knowledge of entomology. Mr Read stood by the window, leaning upon his elbow on the sill, and I began. I did not last quite two minutes; a moment’s silence and Mr Read said: “Well, Marsh, what can I say…” – another short silence, followed by “…except that if you ever have to give a speech I hope I am not there to hear it.” To some this would be looked upon as a ‘put-down’, but to me I accepted it as a challenge. Later in my working life as Export and Accounts Manager with a large UK company there were many occasions, such as staff getting married, leaving for happy expectations or retirement, when I was called upon to repeat my “lecturette” and in general

I acquitted myself quite well. However, in my mind’s eye, upon each and every one of these occasions, Mr Read was there, still standing by the window giving his advice – “take a deep breath, don’t look at your audience, look above their heads.” In hindsight I was very grateful for his frank criticism. Of course there were many other memorable occasions, including ‘three of the best’ from WTM for failing to call him ‘Sir’ and similar from Don Kiff (then a prefect) for getting caught returning from the bread shop in George Street during break time! I also honed my skill at dodging John Willé’s board rubber. Now reaching the age when I have fewer years ahead than I have enjoyed in the past, I look back at my days at the School as being not only educational but completely enjoyable and I am thankful they stood me in such good stead for my future.

Fading images n Colin Smith writes from Arizona and sends us two photos from his time at the School in the 1950s

Please find attached two old school photos. The first is the 1958/9 Rugby second fifteen. I should know all the names but since I only dropped to the team late in the season, not all the names still register. Ones I do remember are back row 3rd from left: Michael Dexter (Radlett), and middle row from right

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– Bigg, Bridgeman, myself, captain (?), Brierley. The second picture is, I believe, the first or second form in 1951/2 (1C) or 52/3 (2B). The only two pupils I can recognise are myself (bottom row, fourth from left) and Marcus Smith (no relation but we went to same primary school) third from left next to me, with Mr Goody on the right. I probably could remember more but 60 years makes one forget names, but not faces. (Can anyone help us identify any of the missing names? Editor)

A gentleman – and a gentle man n Tony Quance (64) writes from Canada to express his sadness at the news of Charles Bloxham’s passing

As I reviewed the latest edition of the OA Bulletin, I was saddened to read of the death of Charles Bloxham. He was my 1A form master when I joined the school in 1957, and also our English master. On reflection, he has had a greater influence on my life than I have



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given him credit for. It is mainly because of his tutelage that I am able to write and appreciate good English. Under his coaching I also developed a powerful boot which occasionally served me in good stead when I became a regular place kicker for the 1st XV. With modern communications, I am now able to enjoy many top class rugby games on TV in Canada, from around the world. There are many penalties awarded in the modern game, and to this day I cannot watch a place kick without a deja vu moment of hearing Mr Bloxham’s incantation – “Breathe, Focus, Follow through”. He certainly enjoyed a good innings, and many of us OAs have reasons to thank Charles Bloxham – a gentleman, and a gentle man.

So it is probably not surprising that the whole of the Upper School volunteered for the CCF. This article is made up of the combined recollections of the five Berts, plus one honorary Bert who contributed his memories of his time in the Royal Navy section.

Spit and polish

Our introduction to the School CCF (‘Corps’) When we reached the Upper School (4th Form) we were allowed to join the CCF. The job of knocking the new raw recruits into shape fell to the school NCOs. The officers in the CCF were all masters in the school, who grumbled about the additional work at the beginning of each school year but who really only processed the paperwork! Fridays were ‘Corps’ days – everyone came to school in their CCF uniform, had normal lessons in the morning and CCF activities in the afternoon. Initially, of course, we had no uniforms, no rifles and no status. The CCF Stores were in the Canteen Block; the Armoury was in the same

n In the latest of the series, ‘The Berts’ give us their recollections of the School’s Combined Cadet Force 1954-58, compiled and consolidated by Alan Bridgman (‘Bert 2’)

Background First of all, it is important to put these recollections of the School CCF into context. When we all joined the School in 1951 the 2nd World War in Europe had only been over for six years; rationing was still in force, and every one of us expected to be ‘called up’ to do two years’ National Service at the end of our school careers! Indeed, compulsory National Service only ended in 1960.


History of the Cadet Forces The CCF movement dates back to1860. The CCF at St Albans School was founded in 1902 by the Headmaster, who was its first Commanding Officer when it was just called the Cadet Force. From 1908 until 1937 it was called the OTC (Officers’ Training Corps); from 1937 its name changed to Junior Training Corps; and finally it became the Combined Cadet Force in 1948.

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block but closer to the side entrance into the school – more of that anon. The school also had its own smallbore (0.22) rifle range in the Orchard. And the CCF had the complete run of all the playgrounds and the orchard during Friday afternoons, as the Lower School pupils were at their lessons. We used the playgrounds for Army drill training; the Orchard for field-craft training; and the Rifle Range for shooting practice. We were first organised into platoons. A platoon in the British Army can contain up to 52 soldiers, commanded by a Lieutenant or 2nd Lieutenant; a platoon consists of four Sections, each one commanded by a Corporal or Lance Corporal. In practice, most of the training of the St Albans cadets in each platoon fell to a Cadet Sergeant. I had a real spate of ‘hero worship’ for the Sergeant in command of my first Platoon (Sgt J W E Blackford), who was also a Prefect and a very good instructor. I think that we were measured up for our Army uniforms as quickly as the Stores people could cope with 100 new recruits. We then had to wait until these arrived from the Army. I still remember receiving my first Army uniform, because it was only then that I felt that I was a ‘proper cadet’. I assume that we must have been issued with our rifles at the same time we received our uniforms, because the rifles would have damaged our school clothes.

Of course as soon as we received our uniforms and purchased our boots, we had to learn how to look after them. We had to learn how to clean and press the uniforms with sharp creases in the trousers, sleeves and across the back of the blouse. The boots had to be polished, with the toecaps so shiny that you could see your face in them! And the webbing belt and gaiters had to be cleaned with khaki blanco. And the brass buttons, belt buckles and cap badge had to be shined with Brasso. There were a number of tricks to learn about these tasks. With your best parade uniform, you could create razor sharp creases by drawing a hard bar of soap along the inside of the creases and then ironing the outside. New boots took a long time to prepare for use on parade – you used the back of a heated spoon to smooth out the dimples on the boots and then gradually built up several layers of black polish with the addition of good quality spit (‘spit and polish’). The best way to polish the buttons was with a brass button stick to prevent the Brasso getting on the webbing or uniform cloth. Basic Training The main purpose of Basic Training was to pass War Office Certificate “A” Parts I and II. Bert Newby still has his Certificates. When you passed Cert A Part II, you could choose which service section to join – Army, Air Force, Navy, Signals or (later) Artillery section. But for the



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first two years you had to slog your way through drill, field craft and weapons training until you could carry out most actions in your sleep! l Army Drill Every cadet had to learn to obey all the drill commands and to do so in time with all the other cadets in the platoon or section. Each Platoon Sergeant wanted his platoon to be smarter and better drilled than all the other platoons. The only way to achieve this was by endless ‘square bashing’. Drill commands consist of three sections – the first part indicates to whom the order is given (e.g. Platoon); the second part gives warning that an order is coming and is usually drawn out (e.g. Ri-i-i-ght); on hearing the third part the order is executed (e.g. Turn) and this is usually delivered sharply with extra emphasis. I won’t bore you with all the commands that we had to practise – there were about 18 common commands and another 18 less common commands. So many happy hours were spent marching, turning, saluting, and standing in various positions. When we received our rifles, we had to learn our weapons drill. l Field Training Some of our practical Field Training took place in the Orchard at school; the rest was classroom training. We learned how to use the Army compass and how to read maps. We learned about battle tactics, patrol


formations for crossing different terrain, and sentry duty. We learned a range of hand signals for silent communication. And we practiced crawling along on the ground with our rifles held out in front of us. l Weapons Training To begin with we had to learn to handle our rifles safely; clean them with a piece of 4 by 2 on the end of a pull-through until the barrels gleamed; and finally operate them – load, fire and field strip them. We were taught a set of IAs (immediate actions) to go through if the weapon stopped firing. We then had to learn how to carry rifles on parade – come to attention, slope arms, present arms, order arms and the stand-atease. After we passed Certificate A Part I, we were allowed to train with the Bren Gun, which was the British Army’s Light Machine Gun. What a beautifully designed weapon! I had the experience of firing a Bren Gun with live ammunition at Summer Camp and was even more impressed with it. Officers in the CCF and THE SERGEANT MAJOR! The Commanding Officer of the CCF when we first joined was Major L G Walker who had held that position since 1946. He handed over to Captain G E Pryke in 1955, who was soon promoted to Major. Major Walker continued to work with the School Shooting team – one of his great enthusiasms. Other officers/masters include Flt/

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Lt Buck (who ran the RAF Section), Mr Billingham (I can’t remember his rank, but he ran the Signals Section), Capt. B Phillips, Lt. P Avery. But the most important person in the CCF was RSM (Regimental Sergeant-Major) S ‘Killer’ Kilpatrick, MBE. He was not a master but he had an influence on everyone in the school. He was one of those key people without whom the School could not function. He had been the youngest CSM in the Scots Guards. He acted as the School caretaker and lived on the premises down by the Armoury. He had the respect of every Cadet and probably every pupil in the school – his influence was probably second only to W T Marsh! (But please don’t tell Mr Marsh). Promotions After we had all passed our War Office Certificate A and chosen which Services Section to join, our aim was to gain promotion through the ranks. Of course there was a limit to how high we could aspire. But looking back, I am surprised how high the top ranks were in the CCF e.g. Staff Sergeant (S/Sgt), Company Quarter Master Sergeant (CQMS), Company Sergeant Major (CSM), Petty Officer (in the RN Section) and Drum Major (as leader of the CCF Band). But the normal NCO ranks to which most of us aspired were Lance Corporal (L/Cpl), Corporal (Cpl) and Sergeant (Sgt) and the equivalent ranks in the RN

and RAF Sections. Summer Corps Camp During every summer holiday it was expected that all cadets go on Summer Camp – a week at a Regular Army location under the control of Regular Army soldiers. Every Summer Camp was attended by 30 or 40 other school contingents and there were a lot of inter-school competitions – Guard Mounting Competition/Band Competition/Best Tent Competition. There were always a lot of activities packed into the Summer Camp week – route marches, field exercises using blank ammunition and thunderflashes, and various demonstrations given by the regular soldiers. I found that one of the great advantages in being Armourer (or even deputy Armourer) was that you didn’t have to go on nasty things like route marches – you issued the weapons at the beginning and counted them back in at the end! The locations of the Summer Camps in our era were: l 1954 Stanford Camp, Norfolk / Cuffley Camp in Hertfordshire for new recruits l 1955 Windmill Hill Camp on Salisbury Plain l 1956 Pirbright Camp, Surrey (Suez crisis!!) We all had strong memories of Pirbright because it was the year that the Guards Regiment (Scots Guards?) who were looking after us mutinied and refused to go to Suez.



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Whilst this behaviour was being sorted out, we were rather left to our own devices for a few days. Bert 4 and two others took advantage of this to head off to the best hotel in Guildford for a slap-up meal. Several of the Berts this year were selected for the CCF Drill Squad (Berts 1, 3 & 5) and came second in the competition, narrowly defeated by the Duke of York’s Royal Military School. l 1957 Gandale / Catterick Camp, Yorkshire l 1958 Dibgate Camp, Folkestone, Kent Corps Day/Annual Inspection Another event that took place every May was Corps Day! This was an opportunity to show off our Parade Drill and other exercises. It culminated in a march past in front of a senior visiting Inspecting Officer – a regular Army, Air Force or Naval Officer. It was held on Belmont Playing Fields until King Harry playing fields were available. Belmont, with its underground lake, had a horrible undulating surface which made it very difficult march properly and keep our lines. Corps Day also allowed us to invite our families and friends to come and watch. Corps Show The annual event held at the end of each Christmas Term in the School Hall was the Corps Show. It was organised by one of the Master/Officers. It was preceded by a ‘Corps Supper’. Its usual


cheerful combination of sketches and skits of a highly topical nature interspersed with individual items on instruments or in the form of conjuring, always provided an enjoyable, if scarcely highbrow, evening. Or, as our honorary Naval Bert says, “the Corps Show provided many opportunities for budding drag artists to don their sisters’ bras stuffed with rugby socks to add to the many ingenious variety acts of a most dubious nature!” The School Armoury The School Armoury was situated in the ‘hat factory’ building on the lower floor next to the School Refectory. It was a strongly secured room which held about 300 LeeEnfield .303 rifles. There was an ‘inner sanctum’ in which were kept several special weapons and a large safe where the ammunition (live and blank) and such things as thunderflashes were kept. It was always emphasized that such security was necessary because the IRA would be very keen to get their hands on such a stock of weapons. When we first joined the CCF my friend Pat Coker was the School Armourer. Pat was a couple of years ahead of us in school but a good friend and a keen chemist like us Berts. When Pat left he recommended that I should take over, with Mike Plant as my 2 i/c. The job consisted of keeping track of all the weapons, keeping the Armoury tidy and chaining up all the rifles before the Armoury was

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locked up. We used to do spot checks on the rifles to ensure that they had been cleaned properly. There was special rifle oil to clean the other working parts. If a rifle barrel got very dirty, then the Armourer had to use brass wire brushes to clean them. The ‘inner sanctum’ was controlled by the RSM – only he had the keys to the room and the ammunition safe. The special weapons included the Bren Light Machine Guns, the school shooting team rifles, a US Sten Gun and a Vickers Machine Gun. On the whole we carried out our duties very responsibly – being Armourer was a very privileged position that many cadets would have given their eyeteeth for! But we did manage to smuggle out a few ‘spare’ thunderflashes in time for November 5th festivities! The CCF Sections l Army Section I have already talked about War Office Certificates ‘A’ Parts I and II, which we all had to pass before we could choose which CCF Section to join. The Army Section was always the largest section in the CCF – Berts 1, 2 and 4 remained in the Army Section. l Royal Navy Section The RN Section was housed in a room at the far end of the factory building, so far away that it was rarely visited by anyone else! It was remote enough for cadets to practise their bosun’s calls

without disturbing anyone else. The Commanding officer of the Naval section was Lieutenant ‘Ossie’ Butler. Both theory and practical skills were practised in this room. Theory from the Manual of Seamanship, the Sailor’s Pocket Book and the Rule of the Road. Practical exercises included ropework – bends and hitches, splicing and whipping – and the use of the Seaman’s knife and the marlin spike. The RN Section’s piece de resistance was in the Orchard where they frequently would be seen erecting sheer-legs and constructing aerial rope ways to simulate ship-toship transfers. Escape and evasion exercises were also practised but Major Pryke was not amused to find that one of the Naval cadets had disguised himself as a female and was standing at a bus stop out in the sticks beyond King Harry. He was quickly recovered by car and returned to base. The 1957 Easter camp was aboard the last of Britain’s battle ships, HMS Vanguard, which was then flagship of the Reserve Fleet and moored on the trots in Portsmouth harbour. Aboard the cadets slept in hammocks in a broadside mess and were found scrubbing the pristine timbers of her quarterdeck at 6.30am. Her eight 16in. guns in four turrets were a schoolboy’s dream of a passing age of maritime warfare. l RAF Section Bert 3 joined the RAF Section and had some interesting experiences



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and the huge 3.7-inch Heavy Antiaircraft Gun (‘heavy ack-ack’). The Swedish Bofors gun was used against low-flying aircraft CCF School Shooting Team These recollections are mainly from Bert 4 who was the only one of us who was good enough to be in the School Shooting team. But I believe all the Berts were awarded their Marksman badges. Bert 4’s introduction to shooting began with his godfather, who let him roam his farm in North Wales unsupervised with a .22 rifle on his own when he was eleven. He stalked rabbits but could never hit any. He says that he was lucky not to shoot himself or anyone else, being a clumsy lad for his age – he remembers once catching the bolt in his jacket (the weapon being loaded at the time!). Health and Safety crime, or neglect of a minor, or both? But then, the breakthrough – at 14 years of age joining the CCF and being taught to shoot by LG Walker (Geography Master and ex Major). Bert 4 must have been one of his favourites (or “toadies” as they were called) because L G Walker organised what was apparently a school shooting competition which Bert 4 won plus The Open Shooting Cup! This was in the Fourth Form and, later on in the school, Bert 4 came to realise that none of the really good shots had, or were, entered for it. To put this into some sort of context, he scored 94 out of a possible 100 which was good enough

on the day to win this competition, but later in the school other boys were shooting 100s on a regular basis but Bert 4 never scored the perfect 100, only 99s. (Still better than all the other Berts! – Ed.) We used the 25-yard indoor range in the orchard. We lay on sloping platforms with rubber pads buckled to our elbows with a webbing sling to steady the left arm and, peering through the Parker Hale aperture sight, took up the first pressure on the trigger, as instructed. Squeezing the second pressure produced a satisfactory ‘crack’, but a hollow ‘pop’ if you were unlucky, meaning that you had attempted to fire one of the faulty rounds from L G Walker’s purchase of a cheap job lot of seconds or rejects from somewhere. L G Walker would be spotting with a telescope and calling the shots – bull – inner – outer, if you were good, but 8, 7, 6, 5 ring if you were not so good. Then the excitement of walking up to retrieve your NSRA (National Small Bore Rifle Association) card, always hoping there would be virtually one hole in it right in the bull made by your ten rounds. But usually the results were like buckshot, with the occasional stray near the edge caused by a rogue (never your fault!) The school used to have postal competitions with other schools and Bert 4 was supposed to be the Secretary but in fact L G Walker did most of the work. However, during Bert 4’s architectural training he studied with someone from Bradfield

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College who had also taken part and remembered Bert 4’s name. The rifles were .22s, of course, and varied in quality and consistency. The school team all had their favourites. Some were converted from 303s by having a tube known as a Morris tube pushed up them. Members of the School shooting team that Bert 4 remembers were: l J M [Mike] Boon who shot regular 100s. One of the best shots. l Robert Gregory, from a year or two ahead of us, who also shot regular 100s. Went on to shoot polar bears. (Bert 4 has this on good authority – Ed). l Mike Gregory, (Robert’s younger brother from our year) was also a crack shot. Went on to become a Wing Commander in the RAF but did not shoot down any planes as far as we know. l There was also W H Cleghorn, O L Simmons, D J Heather & MC Newell (according to the records of the time). Some of us also fired .303s on the outdoor range near Sandridge and at summer camps such as Pirbright and Gandale and also at Bisley to obtain the Marksman’s badge which our mothers proudly sewed on our battledress. The first time Bert 4 fired a .303 rifle he thought the recoil had broken his cheekbone. He was snuggling the butt too close... Marking other peoples’ shots was interesting, the bullet making a tremendous crack as it passed over your head. Bert 4 remembers shooting at

Bisley with a master called Pete Avery in charge and Pete throwing down the bullet clips next to him in a right temper! Poor chap obviously wishing he were somewhere else rather than with these youths in the rain. CCF Band St Albans CCF had a very good drum and bugle band. Bert 5 had a friend, Gordon McMillan, who was a very good drummer in the band. The leader of the band was the Drum Major. In 1956 Major L G Walker presented the school with a special sash to be worn by the Drum Major. At the summer Corps Camp it was the tradition for the band to take part in beating ‘Retreat’. The Retreat has origins in the early days of chivalry when beating or sounding retreat called a halt to the day’s fighting, a return to camp and the mounting of the guard for the night. The school won the Band competition at the 1957 Corps Camp in Yorkshire. The band was invited to play on the Church Parade at the same Camp. In most years the CCF Band took part in the St Albans’ Armistice Sunday Parade and the St Albans Mayoral Parade. In fact when I think back the Band was often the ‘public face’ of the School in the City of St Albans and we were all very proud of it. But when I read the Corps Notes in The Albanian during our school years the band was almost completely ignored by the CCF Officers who wrote the Notes.



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Echoes from recent issues n Prompted by recent editions of the OA Bulletin, Graham Ledger (51) remembers some of his schoolfriends

I was a close friend of Malcolm Kemish; the pair of us coming from Alma Road School where they actually inscribed our names on their ‘honour board’ to mark our taking the 11-plus for St Albans School rather than for the Grammar School which had always seemed to be more appropriate. Malcolm was a talented swimmer. Whilst other powerful swimmers were clearly expending prodigious effort, Malcolm glided elegantly through the water – and got there first. We once had a swimming instructor (Mr Juba?) who was an Olympic coach from Watford swimming pool. He was so impressed with Malcolm that he asked him to attend training at Watford and the Headmaster was asked to release Malcolm from sports afternoons on Wednesdays and Saturdays so that he could go for coaching. This was refused and Malcolm was so angry that, thereafter, he refused to cooperate in school sports and avoided all teams other than swimming; and his physique would have enabled him to become a strong rugby player. Malcolm chose languages in the Sixth and took A Levels in their inaugural year, gaining sufficient qualification for university entrance


and county scholarship funding. But he chose to leave school and do his National Service first, mostly spent on pilot training. Then, encouraged by his family, he decided not to go to university and joined the Civil Service as a victualling officer in the Admiralty. I was best man at his wedding and he reciprocated at mine in Sheffield but we then lost contact. In those days distance was more of a barrier. The A1 had gone past my aunt’s front door in the village of London Colney and wound past that dreadful corner by the Clock Tower before it was re-routed via the Hatfield bypass. But it still went through towns and villages, and my first journey from St Albans to Sheffield took seven hours in my unheated Austin A30 – and such journeys incurred a high risk of breakdown (especially in an A30). Many years later, soon after I retired in 1993, I made contact with Malcolm with the help of my sister who discovered him working in the Admiralty Victualling Department (why hadn’t I thought of that?). We spent a pleasant evening together and I discovered that he had kept some interest in swimming after school, having won several distance events. These included the annual Civil Service mile competition, swum in the Thames, when his time had bettered the world record – but he was swimming downstream! He had also won some sea races such as the Bass Rock. Anyway, he announced that he was retiring and

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would move to Spain. He did; and did not send me the address. So if any OA happens to see him on a beach I would appreciate knowing which one. You will easily recognise him from the photograph of the 1951 swimming team provided by Roger Austin in the last issue. My own regards for Mr Marsh as a decision maker were not entirely favourable. Some of the scientists, including his son Jim, had been entered to take the Higher Certificate after one year in the Sixth because it was changing to unproven A Levels. So I found myself at 16 with county funding available, having to wait two years before going to university and I was also medically exempt from National Service. Stan Marshall helped by appointing me as parttime lab-boy with a welcome ten shillings a week. Mr Marsh decided that I should do Maths at Cambridge because, regardless of exams, I was closer to Don Higson at Maths and he was the benchmark for science subjects. Marsh himself would teach some of us remedial Latin but soon gave up with me and decided that I would have to go to London but, since their Maths requirements were not compatible with our Oxbridge exams, he enrolled me for Physics at Kings. We had been taught the law of unintended consequences and Mr Schofield would have been horrified at my example. He had taught me to play Bridge as being good for reasoning. So I went to Kings and

played Bridge, becoming secretary of the university club at the expense of academic endeavour. But scientists were in demand and, when I applied for 22 jobs on leaving, I had to decide between 22 offers. I solved this by accepting the one with the largest starting salary – as a graduate trainee with Bassetts. I happened to meet Mr Marsh, seeing him on the platform at St Albans. I had cannily found a seat at the other end of the train but he threw himself into the carriage as it set off saying “Ledger, I thought I had spotted you”. I was then asked what I was doing now. I replied “I make Liquorice Allsorts, Sir.” “Good God!” he said and buried his head in his paper and no more was said for the entire journey. This view was common and my parents were told by the Alma Road headmaster that they were extremely disappointed as “they had hoped that Graham would have made something of himself.” One of the offers I had declined had been for research on missiles, which would have been seen as a more positive contribution to society. Looking back over a career in the food industry, I suspect that I actually had more opportunity to contribute to death than if I had become involved with missiles. On retirement my son put me on Friends Reunited and I discovered Roger Seymour. I e-mailed him that I wanted to know where he lived saying that I was prepared to drive a long way to see him. “Good,” was



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the reply. “I live in Australia”. But he also made me aware that I had been a ‘waif and stray’ for 40 years. I now play in the OA Golf Society again, have enjoyed a painting break with Barry Corbett and have also met others at reunions and cathedral occasions. I even found myself playing in a golf match partnering Peter Sherring, who had been my chemistry practical partner; and then there is Brian Ward and Jim Putterill and… I appreciate the school enabling opportunities for OAs, such as the Carol Service. My own family was raised in the north but have moved to the London area. And I have a granddaughter who goes to the High School – which also holds a carol service in the Cathedral. Life provides some pleasant coincidences.

‘Sint Albans’, not ‘Snorbins’ n Jim Adams (55) writes with some fascinating memories of post-War School life

I attended St Albans School for nine years starting in 1946. A normal, reasonably bright boy could be expected to complete the curriculum in seven years – but I’ll come to that later. The Headmaster was a former Navy Commander and we were all mightily scared of him. One morning, during announcements after morning prayers, he informed


us that the name of the school was ‘Sint Albans’ and not ‘Snorbins’. We rated as a public school although we weren’t Eton or Harrow. We were expected to have a moderately posh accent and not lapse into the “common” local dialect. The school day for us Harpenden boys began with a five mile train ride – steam hauled, of course – followed by a 15 minute walk to the school. The crossing to Fishpool Street from London Road was interesting in that you had to navigate through a long line of lorries bringing bricks from the Midlands to rebuild the blitzed capital. There were red eight wheelers of the London Brick Company and orange ones from Marston Valley. All had numbers, which some boys collected, lingering by the roadside until a final rush to reach school before the bell rang for assembly. Five hundred boys stood in class lines in the school hall. The Headmaster strode on to the stage as a hush fell. The ritual began with a reading from the bible by one of the Prefects followed by three prayers – the Lord’s Prayer murmured by us all, a short ‘other’ prayer recited by the Headmaster and finally the School Prayer, beginning, “We give thee humble and hearty thanks, oh most merciful father…” The school prayer had a Victorian ring to it and I suspect that the ‘humility’ was not far from arrogance as future leaders of the British Empire extolled God to shower beneficence on their

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endeavours. The prayer was recited by a Sixth Form boy. The task was assigned in alphabetical order so you knew in advance when your turn would come, although an unexpected absence could override your calculations. It was an ordeal. You stood at the side of the stage, visible to all, clutching a sweat stained copy of the lines that you already knew by heart. The Headmaster would change the order of the three prayers and sometimes place them ahead of the Bible reading so you were never sure when to expect your cue. But there was worse. If the Headmaster decided you had mumbled or otherwise under performed, he would humiliate you in front of the whole school by insisting that you recite the prayer again, line by line. Our pious start to the day was varied on Mondays and Fridays. When the assembly bell rang we lined up by classes outside (in fair weather or foul) and marched in ‘crocodile’ to the adjacent cathedral. A clandestine game of rugby was played as we entered the pews, with the first boys kicking the hassocks to the end of the row to deprive the late arrivals of knee cushions. The service was not long but it included hymns and a sermon so the less devout had to devise ways to pass the time. A common pursuit was to examine the contents of one’s pockets which included pens with intriguing mechanisms that could be quietly disassembled and reassembled, hoping that you

didn’t drop a spring. It was in the cathedral that I honed my ability to play mind games allowing me to endure tedious meetings later in life. Towards the end of my time at the school its operation was appraised by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Education. The school passed with flying colours in both Arts and Science departments. The single flaw found by the Inspector was that we lacked Religious Education. Apparently the prayers and Bible readings were not sufficient. Thereafter, various religious instructors were added to the staff. I can remember two. The first on the scene was a fresh theological graduate with the name of Kadok, which we senior boys found very funny. He attempted to teach us comparative religion, but he could not excite any interest in the beliefs of people in distant parts of India. Kadok began to have discipline problems and didn’t last very long. Our next instructor was a deacon of the cathedral. He was ‘church militant’ and told us at the outset that he would prove the existence of God with metaphysics. This did not impress the Science Sixth who certainly knew the laws of Physics very well. Occasionally there were brief pauses in the deacon’s tirades as he strived to ram Christianity down unwilling teenagers’ throats. We all sniped at him. I asked why we shouldn’t be Muslims as opposed to Christians. He blasted me away with dubious logic, “because Islam is a much newer religion.” There was



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a boy in the class called Winkler who asked a question which was immediately interrupted as the deacon shouted him down. When the deacon’s outburst ran out of steam, Winkler was still politely making his point. A murmur of admiration went through the class. We had destroyed the deacon. Although the name St Albans might have fitted a divinity school, ritualised religion was a minor aspect of the curriculum. The city of St Albans, as the name suggests, traced its roots to early Christian times. Alban, apparently was the first English-Christian martyr. He was beheaded by the Romans for adherence to his faith. Myth has it that his severed head rolled down the hill on which the city was built. When it came to stop, a spring of holy water gushed forth. To this day, the western approach to the city is known as Holywell Hill. The history of the school is intertwined with that of the church. The monastery gatehouse, expropriated by King Henry VIII, still exists and houses the School Library. The school is the second oldest in England and traces its foundation to 948 AD so we celebrated our Millennium while I was there. After the Second World War, the newly elected Labour government offered additional funding for public (i.e. private) schools in exchange for accepting more scholarship students. Thus it was that I took the competitive scholarship entrance exam around

my tenth birthday. The age cut off was such that I would be entitled to resit the exam the following year. I think my parents intended this to be a test run, but when I passed they faced a dilemma. If the place wasn’t accepted that year, there was no carryover. What if I failed when I took the exam a year later? Thus I was the youngest boy in class but I was placed in IA as opposed to IB. Sad to say, I hovered at position 28, 29 or 30 in the 30 boy class through IA, IIA, IIIA and IVA. Why I was not demoted to the B class I cannot say. Presumably someone thought I had unrealised potential. Eventually I repeated the fourth year and was continuing my unambitious schedule when one of my Physics papers came back with the comment, “You should be doing better work than this.” Thereafter, I consistently placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in Physics, Chemistry and Maths, although I continued to put out minimum acceptable work in classes that bored me such as French, Music or History. I enjoyed Geography, however, and still retain a glimpse of the former British Empire long after I have forgotten the principal exports of the African colonies. Our master had served with the Foreign Service in the 1930s somewhere in the former Ottoman Empire, then under British administration. In a rare departure from the text, he told us, “Every so often someone would appear out of the desert and declare himself a prophet. Next thing you knew, he had thousands of followers

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and you had a rebellion on your hands. So you sent out a detachment of the regiment and they shot him. Then things would quieten down again.” The other extra year I spent was in the Sixth Form in order to take the Oxford and Cambridge entrance exams and then cramming Latin which was required before you could take up an offer of acceptance. Subsequently the school started to enter students for Oxbridge exams a year earlier and the Latin requirement was dropped. We were expected to be well rounded students and show ability on the sports field as well as in academia. Games were compulsory on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Rugby was the game played during the winter terms but rolling around in cold, wet mud has never appealed to me. I developed an uncanny ability to misjudge either the speed or the angle at which I should run to intercept a pass thereby avoiding handling a nasty slimy oval ball. No doubt the masters saw through my deception but they probably decided I was not school team material and as long as I ran about a bit no one bothered me. An advantage of staying out of the mud was that you were neither dirty nor sweaty so you could circumvent the need of a post game shower. Occasionally a watchful master would catch me and I had to endure the stream of cold water with everyone else. The other cold water ordeal was

during summer term which began in late April. The school had an outside, unheated swimming pool which was opened as soon as the temperature reached 60F. Too bad if the temperature dropped when the weather changed. I was designated a swimmer (having demonstrated that I was useless on the cricket field) and can recall going into the water at 56F. To this day, I prefer to swim in the Caribbean. When I was in the Fifth Form, the number of house teams that competed within the school was expanded and I was transferred from Breakspear to Shirley – which sounds like a girl’s name, but Mr Shirley was a real person who taught at the school during the 1600s. There must have been very little sporting talent in the house of Shirley since I was appointed captain of the swimming team. I’m sure we finished sixth out of six and I remember that one of our team had to be rescued from the pool to prevent him from drowning. The other extra-curricular activity was the Cadet Corps. This military organisation was headed by a master who had been a Major during the Second World War. He had the assistance of a retired Sergeant Major, formerly of the Scots Guards. Boys from the Fourth Form on were expected to join up and we played at soldiers every Thursday afternoon. We were issued army uniforms and rifles left over from the First World War. Marching and drilling were practiced on the asphalt of the school playground which was on



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an slight incline. This didn’t matter most of the time but the studded soles of our boots were treacherous on an icy day. We learnt map reading, fundamentals of weapon maintenance and where to aim for the best chance of a kill when seeing the silhouette of a man 400 yards away. We had all completed basic military training by the age of 16 – which probably made sense in a country that had fought a major war during the previous decade. Thereafter there were promotions to lance corporal, then corporal and sergeant for the boys who showed the greatest military promise and could be relied upon to teach the skills to the next echelon of recruits. My military potential must have been judged as limited since my promotions were slow coming. Eventually it was probably my seniority that earned me the rank of lance corporal. In time I received the Sergeant’s coveted third stripe but my superiors must still have had their doubts since I was not given command of a platoon but put in charge of the armoury. I organised and catalogued the several hundred Lee Enfield rifles which no one had bothered to do before. Perhaps the powers had surmised I might do that. The armoury was a treasure trove of ancient artifacts. In one dark corner, I discovered a spiked German helmet that must have been purloined from the Kaiser’s army. There were even a couple of Stens, which were unreliable submachine guns used by the British

Commandos on their more daring raids. There were other remnants of the Second World War around the school. In autumn of 1947 during the run-up to Guy Fawke’s night, when small boys could still buy big fireworks, a boy threw a thunderflash into one of the trees at the edge of the playground during morning break. When the smoke cleared, someone noticed the fins of an unexploded bomb dropped by the Germans a few years earlier. It was stuck in a limb of the tree. We were told to stay away from the tree, but otherwise life went on as normal. I think the bomb was removed a few days later while we were in class. It was probably an incendiary device rather than high explosive. The summit of power at the school was to become a Prefect. There were some 18 of these senior boys appointed by the Headmaster as he saw fit. Despite making Sergeant during my final year, I was not selected as a Prefect although most of my peers were. I suspect my clear disdain for athletic prowess may have rankled with the Headmaster. Once I was accepted into Oxford, clearing that hurdle must have tipped the scales since I was elevated for my last two terms. I can’t say, having seen the system inside and out, that the power was always wielded graciously. Prefects had substantial free rein in disciplining the rest of the school. For various infractions of the school rules such as hands in pockets or eating in the street, a prefect could

OA Bulletin june 2011

set lines on the spot. “Write out a hundred times, ‘I will not hang my coat in the cloakroom before the bell rings at five to nine.’” For serious, or repetitive cases, the accused could be “Up Pre’s.” The Prefect’s court system had no appeals and was accompanied by some calculated, nasty theatre. During the first class of the day a prefect carrying a black book would politely ask the master if he could make an announcement. He then read the names of the miscreants followed by, “required by the Prefects at twelve-thirty”, thereby guaranteeing anxiety for the rest of the morning. At the appointed hour the offenders would cower in the corridor outside the Prefects’ room as the judges strode in. Eventually a name was yelled from the door, which was slammed in the face of the wrongdoer. When he timidly entered he encountered a dozen stern faces seated around a table decorated with canes. First

timers generally got off with a three-page essay but those judged reprehensible could be caned. The caning was conducted by the Head Boy who was also Captain of the Rugby team. The punishment was supervised by the Assistant Headmaster, a mild mannered man who squirmed at every stroke. The Head Boy had the unusual ambition to become a vicar. Whether the ability to whack boys’ bottoms was considered a desirable credential for entry to theological college, I do not know. The years spent at St Albans were probably more influential than my time at Oxford. The same Physics master who moved me off dead centre once gave me some useful advice. “When you are facing an apparently insoluble problem, go back to first principles.” I’ve used that approach many times. It almost always works.



OA Bulletin june 2011



Five’s alive n OA Rugby’s Press and Publicity Officer Nick Hallett (65) looks back on a highly satisfactory campaign as the OAs finish a creditable fifth in their first season in the National Leagues

Although the composition of next season’s National League 2 South is still not fully resolved at the time of writing – thanks to the bitter winter weather some clubs in 2 North and League 1 still have a number of decisive matches to play – OAs have finished their season, and in some style. Two wins in the last week of the season, away to Shelford and at home to Hinckley, despite a number of key squad members being unavailable, allowed OAs to cement fifth place out of a league of sixteen clubs. Quite an achievement for a first season in a higher league and which establishes OAs among the top fifty clubs in England. In the thirty fixtures eighteen were won, eleven lost and one infuriating game at Henley drawn. In these games OAs amassed bonus points at a rate of nearly one per match. Twenty-seven were credited out of thirty outings, a total unmatched by any of the club’s opponents. The closest were league winners Ealing and fourth-placed Southend, each on twenty-two. On five occasions the ‘points for’ tally exceeded 50 and in one of those instances, against Newbury, over one hundred points were scored, 132 to be exact. The final total for

the season rests at 1,080, with 668 against, producing a fourth-best difference of 412. OAs have ‘done the double’ of home and away wins over six other clubs. Worryingly, the four clubs above in the league table, Ealing, Jersey, Richmond and Southend have all done the double over OAs; only in three of these matches were the club outplayed, the other five were close enough to have been won. Also of concern was the number of yellow cards issued during the season, amounting to fourth-worst in the league with 23, but no reds. Worthing won this competition in consummate style with 27 and one red. How was it achieved? The seeds of OAs’ current form were sown back in February 2010 when James Shanahan left the Cambridge club and joined OAs. He brought with him two highly influential players in scrum-half Stefan Liebenberg and winger, later converted to inside centre, Chris Lombaard. They joined with established OA three quarters such as Terry Adams, Richard Gregg, Chris May, Mark Evans and Simon Lincoln. As well as providing the glue for his fellow backs, Shanahan – who became player/ coach in time for the 2010/2011 season – reconstructed the scrum with Marc Comb, Lawrence White and Jamie Bache surviving from the original eight. To this mix were added three ex-OA colts who had been playing for higher clubs in Swedish

OA Bulletin june 2011

International Andy Daish, Lloyd Bickle and Ollie Cooper-Millar. At the same time the club welcomed Wes Cope, Marco Cecere, Tom Laws, Alex Brown, Tom Gillings and Jack Micans to flesh out a fast and purposeful pack. Mention must be made of James Ellershaw who played some matches during the season for Saracens until the much-heralded arrival of Matt Stevens allowed him to return. The tabloid press nominate a ‘Star Man’ in their match reports and, as the OA faithful found when he became unavailable for the last three games due to injury, the man that was missed the most for his line-breaking running was centre Terry Adams. The playing style caught a number of opponents unawares. Dedicated to running the ball at almost every opportunity that presented itself, many sides were left gasping and flat-footed by the pace and precision passing of both forwards and backs. Wherever possible, Richard Gregg’s boot has been used to slot the kickable penalties as well as convert tries. Looking through the admittedly many scores against OAs it has to be said that some of the running was injudicious, some from in front of goal downright mental, but the pressure such an approach puts on the opposition forces missed tackles and turnovers which puts ownership of the ball back into contention. Given such an adventurous approach it has been disappointing to see so few spectators, whether

committed or not, turn up at Woollams. The usual gate is 138 and the remaining population of St Albans cannot be put off by the entrance fee (a modest £7), especially as many opponents charge £10 or over to get in; so it can only be assumed that the fact that there are two other clubs in the city and many others within a ten mile radius dilutes the prospective audience. It could be that the way forward is a Saracens-style charm offensive with free tickets for children accompanied by adults. The club made more friends with pre-season matches against two midlands clubs, Nuneaton and Leicester Lions, the latter looking to be in contention for a play-off promotion place to join National League 1. Hopefully a similar situation will present itself in August as the kit is dusted off and a new season begins.

OA Shooting

Out of range n Honorary Captain Andrew Wilkie reports on challenging times for the OA Rifle & Pistol Club as it moves to a temporary home

It seems that life as a member of the R+PC is set to become even more varied and unpredictable. We have now left the School range as work on the new sports facility gets underway and access via the



OA Bulletin june 2011


building site becomes a health and safety issue. To allow the schoolboys to continue shooting an access way has been constructed along the boundary with the neighbours to the orchard and through the stores hut leading eventually to the range door. How do I know this? Well it’s simple really, earlier this year I started assisting the recently appointed shooting master, David Russell, with coaching the boys on Monday and Wednesday evenings. That’ll teach me to loiter in the upper playground (I mean car park!), as that’s where David caught up with me one evening. There are no complaints though as it is a pleasure to pass on some of my experience and assist with empowering the boys to critically assess what is going wrong (or indeed right) so they can make adjustments and continue to raise standards. It’s good to see that they coach one another as well. I’ve yet to see how the girls fare. Far be it for me to lay claim to any particular success in this venture but scores are definitely improving. One thing I am sure of though, is that if we in our day were anything like today’s schoolboys then Major LG Walker and Sergeant Major had their work cut out coping with an abundance of enthusiasm. Long may it continue. To assist with improving standards the School has also invested in new equipment but the good old number eight rifles are still in use for competitions like the Country Life. Will they ever be retired?

For the summer at least the OA R+PC has decanted to the Vauxhall Recreation Club ranges at Luton. The new regime is a big change after some 50 years of using the School range but hopefully it will be for a limited period only while construction works lasts. Results for the winter 2010/2011 season reflected the somewhat hurried exit from the School range in that we came fifth in division 2. We’ll see how we get on in the summer 2011 league at our new venue. Earlier in the year one of the options the OA R+PC looked at was to develop full bore activities. That is still work in progress but the weather, the return of Giles Harlow and contact with the School has given us a flying start. Our first match was a friendly against the Old Lawrentians where we came second, outplayed by their internationals over 300, 500 and 600 yards by 297.28 to 277.21. Much to our chagrin Giles managed to post the highest score of the day shooting a borrowed rifle in his sports jacket. So much for all our designer kit! Well done Giles, we look forward to seeing you on the ranges again throughout the summer. Our second full bore competition, the Q Match, took place on 16 April at Bisley. Excellent weather greeted us for the second weekend in succession this time with no wind; so all the errors were down to the nut behind the bolt! With a maximum of 50 at each range we

OA Bulletin june 2011

managed two 49s each at 500 and 600, with a 50 from Martin Warr at 600. Well done Martin, both Moray and I tried hard to beat you but just fell short; challenge is on for the rest of the season then. The final result was that we came third out of a field of seven, a result the like of which we haven’t seen for years. Congratulations to all concerned. To add to the day David Russell and two schoolboys, Gerraint Northwood-Smith and Abhishek Kulkarni, joined us on the ranges to experience the delights of Bisley. By all accounts the day was a great success for them so much so that Gerraint very nearly shot his way into fifth position in the team with a 49.4 at 500 yards, unfortunately 600 yards got the better of him. Are there any other boys who would like to challenge the OAs? Clearly we need to re-start the Clock match; last heard of the Clock resided in the master’s common room. We should also think of the small bore equivalent, the Coles Trophy, which should be stored somewhere at School. Our next match is the long range which this year is an 08.30 start on the range. No rest for the wicked then! Hopefully the weather will remain clement because wind and rain at 1000 yards can be very entertaining, as we found last year. Our year is planned to close out with the Arnold Cup match against the Old Alleynians and our annual dinner, which we have kept going since the OA Centenary. Before we

get there though we are planning two other shoots the first of which, Captain’s Day, has been set for the afternoon of 11 June at 500yards. We look forward to reviving our competitions against the School and expanding our full bore activities over the summer. If anyone would like to join us please contact Owen Simmons, Andy Moore, or myself – our contact details are below. Good Shooting. Owen Simmons – President – 01438 840 674 Andy Moore – Treasurer – 01727 830 344 Andrew Wilkie – Captain – 01727 856 857

OA Angling

Lifting a heavy barbel n OA Angling Club Secretary Geoff Cannon reports on a successful coarse fishing season, including an 11lb barbel from the River Lea

The Angling Club continued as usual with its programme of fishing and social events. The trout season finished in the autumn and the members then indulged in coarse fishing for the winter season. We spent a weekend in September in Norfolk fishing on The Broads enjoying good sport and good weather. The Fishwives’ Supper was held as usual in November and was well



OA Bulletin june 2011

attended and enjoyed by all. In February, when both sport and weather was poor, members went on a non-fishing outing to Kent, visiting Dover Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Shepherd Neame Brewery and Chatham Dockyard – a successful social event. Adrian Blackwell fishing in the River Lea at Wheathampstead landed an 11lb barbel, a large fish for such a small river. As usual we would welcome new members and please contact Geoff Cannon if you are interested. Geoff Cannon Honorary Secretary, OA Angling Club 14-16 Church End Redbourn AL3 7DU Tel: 01727 861622 (daytime) 01582 792512 (evening) Fax: 01727 861623 E-Mail:

OA Golf

Everyone welcome n Current Captain Tony Bolton extends a warm invitation to all OAs to join in any of the remaining events for 2011 listed below

Friday 17th June OA v Old Fullerians at West Herts GC Wednesday 29th June Captain’s Away Day at Brookmans Park GC


Thursday 21st July OA Cup and Dockree Tankard at Gerrards Cross GC Friday 12th August OA v Old Haberdashers at Harpenden GC (Hammonds End) Friday 19th August OA v Old Cholmeleians at Mid-Herts GC Sunday 4th-Tuesday 6th September Thorpeness Trip Friday 9th September OB Foursomes at Highgate GC Friday 14th October Briggs Goblets at Mid-Herts GC Friday 25th November Annual Dinner at OA Sports Pavilion, Woollams If any OAs would like to participate in any of the above events, please contact Peter Dredge for further details on 01582 834572 or e-mail

OA Bulletin - Summer 2011 Edition  
OA Bulletin - Summer 2011 Edition  

OA Bulletin - Summer 2011 Edition