Chris Talbot  (Chairman)

19 NOVEMBER 2005


Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is really gratifying to see so many of you here and on behalf of the organizing committee may I extend to you a very warm welcome – especially to the ladies, we think that you are very brave.

I think that our numbers here tonight are a reflection of our appreciation of the quality of the school and its distinguished array of masters and staff. Many of us left in the early 60s with never a backward glance as we embarked on completely new lives. Today is the first time in over 40 years that we have met old friends. As often happens, it has taken us a lifetime to appreciate what we took completely for granted as naïve schoolboys.

Now on your behalf may I welcome our guests.

From that distinguished array of masters who greeted us in 1955, I am delighted that two are here this evening.

Mr Geoffrey Stanley was our Music Master. I well remember that first music exam in December 1955. Bong went the piano. Question 1: “What was that note?” and so for me started a lifelong mystery of music …… clarified only by a mechanical understanding as part of A-level Physics and more recently by the joys of Classic FM.

But Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and as a member, with others here tonight, of the School Scout Troop we greatly benefited from the supportive leadership of Geoffrey Stanley as a committed Scoutmaster. Geoffrey, welcome to this reunion.

Fortunately the French language was not such a mystery as my first job after university was in France. For giving us a good grounding in French we have to thank Mr Richard Temple. Not only did he give us an insight into a new culture but also through his evening classes he introduced members of our families to the pleasures of the French language. My understanding of French is now even more vital because three and a half years ago I anticipated my pension and bought a long-house in Normandy. Talking to Richard and Mrs Temple a few weeks ago I learned that it is situated only a few minutes drive from their daughter’s house which they have been visiting regularly for many years. I look forward to meeting them out there one day. Richard and Mrs Temple, welcome.

In 1957, when we were no longer new boys, the School Magazine recorded its welcome to Mr Colin McCall to take Physics and Chemistry. It reported that he was an Old Boy and played Rugger for the Old Grammarians and it looked forward to his assistance with School games. Forty eight years later, Colin, we echo that welcome to you and Mrs McCall, but we don’t expect you to help with the games.

Welcome also to our two speakers, Mr David Wilson and Mr Richard Oberman. They will be formally introduced by Robert Gibson later on.

This introduction would not be complete without mentioning three other people.

Two years ago David Spencer took out a subscription to Friends Reunited which allowed him to email people who had logged on. Twenty months ago he put out some tentative emails and over time a few responses straggled in and the idea of a reunion was raised. He sent out another round of emails and was on the point of giving up on the idea due to lack of response, when he suddenly received a critical mass of replies and the event was on. From that time about a year ago he has worked tirelessly, searching Electoral Rolls, telephoning lists of people in the phone book with the appropriate name, turning up new leads, writing Newsletters to keep everybody informed and looking after the finances. Without David this reunion would not have happened and we all owe him a great debt of gratitude. David, thank you.

Secondly, Graham Tall has played a magnificent part in the preparation for this reunion, not only in being an active member of the organizing committee but also in being something of a technical wizard. He produced all our name badges and the Souvenir Brochures in front of you. Moreover he has developed a fantastic website which extends beyond the particular interests of the 1955 intake into many aspects of school life. When you access it make sure you keep an eye on the clock because you can easily pass many a happy hour. Graham, thank you very much.

Thirdly, there is “Reluctant Roy” which is the name by which we know Graham Pettit. He gained his nickname at our first committee meeting early in the year when he said that he wanted to attend as an observer and not be involved. Since then he has found people and sent letters, and now more recently he has obtained and wrapped the souvenir boxes in front of you. He also had the banner made and did the decorations in the Hall. Thank goodness he didn’t want to be involved because otherwise there would have been nothing left for any of us to do. Roy, many thanks.

Roy also formed the Band which will be making its first appearance tonight especially for this occasion. They will be playing two sessions after dinner and having heard their practice this morning I can assure you that you are in for a real treat.

Between their sessions, we hope that your reminiscences over dinner will lead to some anecdotes that you will share with us. We have a few to get you going.

Finally, we hope that your enjoyment of this evening will live up to our expectations in planning it.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Would you now please rise for Mr Richard Temple to say Grace.