Brighton College Hong Kong Dinner
Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Head Master Richard Cairns, and staff of Brighton College were given a warm welcome to Hong Kong by the community of pupils, parents and alumni at the Brighton College Dinner on 10th December at the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel.

The first pupils from Hong Kong and China joined Brighton College in the early 1970s and forty years on this has grown to nearly 100 pupils from Eastern Asia currently at the school. The Head Master was therefore delighted to choose this occasion to launch the Brighton College Hong Kong Trust supported by our parents and alumni in our Hong Kong community. Ken Grocott gave the keynote address, and having just finished his 100th term of teaching, shared what he loved about Brighton and why he has loved working here for so long.

This was followed by a heart-warming speech by OB Herman Lam (Ab. 2013-15), about what Brighton taught him about making a difference (see full speech below). Scott Sheridan, Development Director, outlined how the new Trust will promote and celebrate Brighton College in Hong Kong and also support projects back at the College. Ever since the school's foundation in 1845, philanthropy has been at the very core of Brighton College's existence, and this has been reflected in our Hong Kong Community with significant donations and pledges.

We are grateful to all the guests for a wonderful evening, and to all those parents and alumni who volunteered to help support the Trust in the future. Dates for forthcoming events organised by our alumni and parent community are now under discussion and we will be sharing this in due course – in the meantime we hope that you enjoy a few selected photographs from the launch.

Speech to the Brighton College Hong Kong Dinner 2016, 10th December 2016 by Herman Lam (Ab. 2013-5)

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are enjoying your dinner so far. I am both honoured and humbled to be asked by Mr Cairns to address you tonight.

My name is Herman Lam. I graduated from Brighton College in 2015 after two years of A-levels studies. I am currently a second-year student at the University of Cambridge reading Human, Social and Political Sciences.

Like many of you, I have fond memories to hold onto when I was at Brighton, and especially so because of the countless opportunities that were offered.

In my Upper Sixth year, I was asked to run the 4th form Debating Club and the Junior House Debating Competition. I was completely new to the job. While I had done some tutoring before, teaching a class of 30 debating was something with which I had no previous experience.

I still remember the day when I took 4 of my students to SOAS in London for the International Competition for Young Debaters – it was 31st January 2015, a snowy day – it was one of my proudest moments during my time at Brighton. Only having taught them since September, one of my students – Joelle, who is here with us today – came 55th overall. But I was most proud not because of the results they achieved, but because they truly gave their best, where they lacked the experience, they made it up with both enthusiasm and dedication. It just goes onto show that if you put your heart and mind to something, you can make things happen, wonderful things, indeed.

Brighton also gave me wonderful friendships. I still cherish today the memories of Chris Saner and myself cooking at the Abraham kitchen, me trying to teach him how to say ‘dumplings’ and ‘buns’ in Mandarin while preventing him from eating more than his fair share! To this day, I still treasure his friendship and I was over the moon when he secured his place in Cambridge earlier this year!

But perhaps most importantly, Brighton gives everyone of us here a quality education. You can go way and beyond the A-level syllabus and there will always be Mr Bird telling you how much you still have yet to learn, or Mr Carr-Hill moaning how none of us listens to the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4. We are encouraged to do more, do better and be a better informed student every single day. And to this day, I feel blessed to have had a quality education afforded to me, before, during and after my time at Brighton College.

Last year, I joined a student charity initiative called Schools Plus, which works with local schools to offer free tutorial and free extracurricular activities to disadvantaged children in the local area. As head of the charity this year, I oversaw the expansion of the charity to cover more than 200 children in 3 different schools across 19 projects.

Lucky as we all are, sometimes, it is far too easy to lose sight of life beyond the bubble we live in and there is always the temptation to neglect those things that happen outside of our daily routine or our communities. After all, as a Cambridge undergraduate myself, and you, as the ever-brighter cohorts of Brighton, teachers and parents of these cohorts, we are all very academically-minded, always thinking of how to extend ourselves academically.

But what Schools Plus reminds me is that sometimes, we do have to take a step back and to appreciate all the wonderful opportunities that have been offered to us, and to realise that there is more work to be done in the community so we can extend those opportunities to other people who do not yet have them.

I still remember my first lesson at Parkside Community College in February this year. I introduced myself as a student of the University of Cambridge. One of my year 7s raised his hand and said “I don’t think I’d ever end up in a university”. He was just 11 – I was heartbroken.

And when I went to the most deprived school in all of East England a few weeks ago trying to convince the Headteacher there that we can give him the help his pupils so desperately need, I was stunned by his initial scepticism and hostility: he started by telling me 10 reasons why he would not use our help.

Eventually, he told me that his pupils come from broken families and are very vulnerable: and he was so scared that we would easily give up like so many charities before us and leave the kids feeling unworthy and unvalued. In the end, he pleaded with me: keep those kids off the street, would you, Herman, they are a good bunch.

I think what I really want to say tonight is that academic excellence, which is something most of us here, in one way or another, strives for every single day of our lives, is not everything that matters in life. It also matters whether we are actually doing good, whether we are leaving the world a bit better than we found it. The world is much greater than the number of 100%’s you would ever get in your academic life.

I remember the satisfactory smile on the face of one of my students when he finally got the maths problem he had been stuck on for half an hour; the smile one of my other students had when she, for the first time, got a question right in front of the whole class; or the glowing faces in my debating class when I made everyone the all-time favourite lemon-drizzle cakes back in the Brighton days. And those memories, those moments are the moments which I will treasure the utmost for the rest of my life.

2016 may seem a bit of a doom and gloom: Brexit and Donald Trump. The world seems to go in all sorts of wrong directions and it would seem that there is nothing much we can do about it. We lose trust and faith so easily nowadays. But we don’t have to be like that – change starts with you, it starts with me, it starts with all of us. It does not have to be like Martin Luther King leading the Civil Rights Movement; it can be as small as a smile to a stranger or a cup of hot tea to a homeless person in the cold winter nights. Try to understand one another. Showing others the simple message of “I do care” is powerful enough to nudge the world to the right direction.

Don’t ever think that being a student limits any potential for making yourself a better person and the world a better place. There has never been an age limit on change and we shouldn’t be the ones to set one.

Before I end, I would like to leave you with one final thought:

If we all do one random act of kindness every day, we might just set the world in the right direction.

I think that is the message that has stayed with me since my time at Brighton.

Thank you so much for indulging me tonight. It truly is an honour.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the evening. I wish you all a very warm and fuzzy Christmas, and an extra successful 2017."


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