Commemoration Day 2008
Written by Alex Bremer (Ry. 1979-83), Site Administrator
Sunday, 22 June 2008

For my report on this year’s Commemoration day, I had resolved not to begin by mentioning the weather - as it seems I so often do. It would, however, be ungracious not to acknowledge the surprising and un-forecast sunshine that bathed Brighton College on 22nd June 2008. Whilst the rest of the UK was apparently awash with the accurately predicted wind and rain, Brighton was beautifully sunny and warm - so there... I’ve mentioned it.

I had, for this year at least, managed to side-step David Gold’s (S. 1986-91) now-traditional cajoling-into-attending-chapel, and so arrived in time to witness a sizable throng of worshippers exiting said chapel into the warm morning sunshine - clean of soul, hymns still ringing in their ears - and was able to join the exodus as they migrated en mass (sic) towards the Café de Paris for coffee, before soldiering onward to watch the cricket.

The new Home Ground Pavilion looked particularly magnificent in the sunshine, and our latest Old Brightonians and their families had gathered there in large numbers by the time my wife, our new son and I had arrived, picnic in hand, to join John (A. 1976-81) and Fiona Aiken (nee Heald, F. 1979-81) on the verandas that frame this new building. It is always fun to see the new leavers - our newest members - enjoying their last day at Brighton College. Inevitably one’s thoughts hark back to similar milestones (in my case 25 years ago this year!), and again I couldn’t help but regret that Anthony Seldon’s Graduation Ceremony initiative had not been implemented decades earlier - it really is a glorious way to "sign off".

My lifelong, and utterly indefensible, determination to avoid attending chapel does not, I’m glad to say, extend to attending the annual diploma-fest that takes place in this sanctuary; it remains one of the single most relevant, enjoyable, and ultimately moving ceremonies with which the OBA is associated. I always feel privileged to be invited to sit in on this occasion and to do my best to capture on camera the terrific atmosphere that is always generated by the leavers, their Housemasters and Housemistresses, and the parents.

So it was again this year as one-by-one each young graduand received a certificate of achievement from the special guest, Peter Withers (former Director of Studies at the College), to the soundtrack of their now-former Housemasters and Housemistresses’ indictment of them. Anthony Whitestone, addressing the graduates for the first times as their President, proceeded to welcome them all to the Association, remind them to check on the website and on FaceBook for alumni event details, before pointing out that there was in fact a difference between "graduand" and "graduate"... but not actually explaining what it is... (I've since looked it up).

Again we all evacuated the chapel into the warmth of the front quad, where the bleachers had been set up to accommodate the leavers for their Graduation photograph, and where the OBA had set up a champagne reception to greet them. It was here that a good natured and amiable gathering of OBs old and new, their parents and former masters enjoyed each-others company for what we very much hope will not be the last time, and from where we all witnessed Mrs Joyce Heater’s fruitless efforts to prevent the breeze from blowing her table of books-for-sale to all corners of the quad.

I again urge all OBs to make the effort to join us next year for Commemoration Day - it really is a terrific day out - and to go now and buy a copy of Joyce’s wonderful book - if only to cheer her up a bit...

Site Administrator

Alex's most passionate interests include Motor Racing (Alex raced for a short time in 1986 and 1987 in Formula Ford and Formula First before parking his shiny racing car in an inappropriately violent manner half way down the main straight at Brands Hatch), Boxing (which he is delighted never to have participated in), Music (Alex is hysterically tone-deaf - but loves attending live gigs), Movies, Manchester United & Skiing.

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