It only feels like yesterday that I was reporting on the success of the Open Afternoon at the School on 29 April and our 77th Annual Dinner, bringing to a conclusion the 80th Anniversary celebrations of the founding of the School in 1936. Alas, the Dinner will be the last one organised by the Association, but I am sure this concept will continue in the future in the form of groups of former students getting together from time to time to enjoy a reunion over a meal and drinks. One such occasion was drawn to my attention recently when the “Leavers of 1980” and the Dylemma Band held a reunion at the School in July. More than 40 attended with around 30 family and friends of the band keen to see them perform again after more than 30 years. The band was set up in 1979 by two students at the School, Mike Thompson and Jon McKinney. I believe this group of past students intend to meet again next year. Long may this continue!
Sadly, I have to report that a number of members have died recently, Wilfred Ward, Niall McKinney, Peter Carrahar, Ralph Anthony, Tony Allum CBE, Mary Brooks and Father Leo Arnold. Wilfred lived locally and I only heard recently that he died last February. Ralph died in Australia where he had been living with his son for a few years and he was buried in Bournemouth with his late wife, Barbara. Few will know that his father made and laid the parquet floor at Our lady Queen of Peace, Southbourne, as well as all the pews, kneelers and other furniture. Tony died after a short illness in August. He was very proud of his honour which he earned after a distinguished career in civil engineering. Mary is survived by her husband, Frank (Stus), who was in the first class of boys when the School opened in 1936 and is one of our four Life Vice presidents. She was very active in the Convent Association and produced their Newsletter for many years. Fr. Paul Hackett SJ emailed to say that Fr Leo Arnold SJ (1941-6) had died on 2 July in Rome. Paul’s older brother, Fr. Peter Hackett SJ at Corpus Christi, was also in the first class of boys at the School. Finally, we were also deeply saddened to hear of the recent death of Brother Lionel in India. To think he taught art at the School in the early fifties and then went on to devote some 60 years of his life helping the poorest of the poor. He was and still is an inspiration to all of us. May they all rest in peace.
Earlier this year, I heard from yet another who was in the first class of boys in 1936, Jim Wilson, who is living locally. His father was owner/manager of the then 5 star Carlton Hotel until Jim took over. I went to school with his younger brother, Colin, and was occasionally invited to play snooker or tennis there with a meal in the restaurant afterwards. This was quite an experience for me. Colin also lives locally and is still playing tennis. Ian Jones has emailed me to say that Fr. John McCabe SJ had visited him recently. He was the replacement in the eighties for Fr Worrall at Corpus Christi and was also the School Chaplain. He is now in Glasgow as an assistant priest. Apparently, the church is the only one in Western Europe to hold a 9pm Sunday Mass, which is always 90% full, a surprise in itself.
I have also heard from Simon Head, our local undertaker, not on official business I am glad to say and Rex Smith. Rex pointed out that the first Christmas stamp was issued 51 years ago in 1966 and cost 3d. Those were the days! Geoffrey Leonard (nineties) has emailed from Bali to announce the birth of his first child, Arthur William. (That makes me a grandad). He has set up a timber business building structures all over the world. His school contemporary, Mark Jackman, lives nearby and they have both become triathlon enthusiasts, having “graduated” from bodyboarding, a sport for which Bali is famed. He says the media have hyped up the volcanic activity of Mount Agung. I hope he proves to be right.
For the first time ever and perhaps the last, we have a Chieftain in our midst. Yes, Tim Driscoll, had the great honour in June of being chosen to be Chieftain, for the next two years, of the worldwide O’Driscoll Clan at their annual Gathering at Baltimore in West Cork. It will mean one or two extra trips to Ireland to help organise the next two Gatherings. This will be no hardship for Tim as he loves going to Ireland and the family of his wife, Sheila, come from West Cork. His connection with Ireland is through his grandfather, who lived half-way between Cork City and Baltimore. Tim is in regular contact with Paul Rowsell, who came to the Dinner, John Whorwood (former Head Boy who was at last year’s Dinner), Kevin Windebank and Pete Hannifan, who still lives locally in Bournemouth. For the last two Junes, they have arranged their own reunion along with a few others from the same year, the Class of 1970, at a hostelry accessible to them all. This year it was near Oxford and Kevin even travelled down from Northumberland and back the same day!
This brings me back to my remarks in the opening paragraph about mini reunions. The School would love to hear about any such gatherings and news from past students, as indeed would I while I am still acting as the news gatherer for the Association, which has been publishing news of past students since before I was born! As yet, no formal moves have been made to dissolve the Association and this matter will be discussed again early next year. Meanwhile, we plan to continue to have several Masses a year in the School Chapel with a social gathering afterwards. By the time this News is read, we will have had our Christmas Mass. The next one is likely to be in April and we will let you know the date when it is fixed. It just remains for me to wish all our readers peace and joy at Christmas on behalf of the Association Committee.
Terry Leonard (firstname.lastname@example.org)