If ever a venue was most likely to draw a big attendance for one of the regular OB London Drinks evenings it was surely the Paramount Sky Bar on the 32nd floor of London’s Centre Point Tower. The attendee list was appropriately over-subscribed – a terrific indicator for the New Year.
TAG: Tony Whitestone (President 2007 to 2010)
Although not a member of the Common Room as such, Chris O’Connell became in his thirty year career at the College a truly legendary figure and, as one previous Headmaster has said, ‘simply the best Housemaster that convention prevented me from appointing’.
I arrived at my last annual dinner ‘in charge’ on an extremely cold evening thankful that, at least, we had no snow. After a short panic attack about missing table decorations, which turned up elsewhere in the school, I joined a packed Café de Paris for pre-dinner drinks before we repaired to a slightly chilly Dining Hall for dinner.
It hardly seems three years since David Gold asked me to put myself forward as your President and that my tenure is almost at its end. During this time I have much enjoyed re-connecting with OBs whom I first knew at the college and those many others from both before and after my time on the College staff. I have had much pleasure in presiding over and representing you at various functions and reunions, here at the college or away in London and New York, as well as being generally associated with the college at a time of growth and continuing pre-eminence.
Never one to miss out on a free meal, it was with great enthusiasm that I responded in the affirmative to the Head Master’s invitation to dinner on Friday 27th August, and with considerable bounce in my step that I boarded a train out of Clapham Junction towards the mighty City of Brighton and on to the hillside Principality of Kemp Town.
This photo was recently found in the Faber archives! This is the CCF at RAF Waddington (home to the Vulcan bombers) in 1978 for a weeks camp!
As the end of another summer term at the College approaches and a new cohort of leavers is about to join the ranks of the Association, I thought it appropriate to write to you, wishing you and your families well, wherever you may be.
I attended the recent Speech Day in the Dome in Brighton, which is now the regular venue for this prestigious event, the original School Hall being too small to accommodate the ever burgeoning numbers at the College. It is evident that the school is in very fine fettle and achieving excellence on all fronts.
The fifth annual Vice Presidents’ lunch saw us return to the Army and Navy Club, and once again we are very grateful to Peter Miller (C. 1945-49 ) for hosting the occasion and allowing us to enjoy the fine catering and premises of the club.
It’s been a while since our last London Drinks – almost 2 years, in fact. For these first Drinks of 2010 we had returned to a favourite old haunt of the Association’s London members; The International Bar on St. Martin’s Lane. Unfortunately it appears that it may also be our last time here; the place is to close within a month – a piece of information made privy to Jack Bremer (BCJS 1990-94) before some of the bar staff (much to his and one unfortunate girl’s great embarrassment / shock).
This year’s dinner was a very well attended affair held in a warm and dry Dining Hall while the rain and wind lashed outside.
This notwithstanding the Diners enjoyed a wonderful speech from Old Brightonian Chris Terrill (A. 1965-70); a genuinely warm and heartfelt account of his time at the College whilst acknowledging that things have generally changed for the better for current pupils. It was good to see that he’d brought props, and these included his old boater... which seemed to still fit!
Guest of Honour, Zoe Ball, entertained all with the amusing tales of her own convent education, while Head of House, Frances Gladwin gave a witty and heartfelt speech, culminating in the launch of a new charity initiative which will initially sponsor a young girl in Malawi. Guests were also serenaded by the very fine in-house string quartet, harpist and chamber choir before the ‘old’ and ‘young’ chatted the night away.
Having just glanced at the on-line Pelican, I have to admit to being somewhat ashamed at seeing that my last presidential letter to you was written well over six months ago! I hope that you have enjoyed a good Christmas, wherever you may have spent it, and I wish you the best of good fortune for 2009.
The Association was delighted that this year's special guest speaker was Dr. David Bull, broadcaster (appearing regularly on "The Wright Stuff", "Radio Five Live", "Most Haunted", and "Richard & Judy") and Conservative candidate for Brighton Pavilion at the next general election, and diners were treated to an account of his rich and varied career to date.
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 hope you are all thriving and enjoying the summer (if that is the season you are in!). I hope too that you have enjoyed reading the latest Brighton College Review recently sent out by the Headmaster, Richard Cairns, and learning of all the exciting developments taking place at your old school.
For the first London Drinks of 2008 we’d chosen a new venue in the City, Firefly Bar at The Old Bailey – a terrific venue where we were very well looked after. The Old Brightonians had an area of the bar cordoned off where a select group of 13 of us spent a very pleasant evening.
I feel honoured to have been elected the President of the Association of Old Brightonians, although when David Gold asked me to put my name forward last June, my initial reaction was that I surely could not be eligible for the post, not having been to the College. David assured me that there were precedents for retired members of staff being elected President, and some quick research has shown me that the two very first Presidents were, perhaps not surprisingly, retired members of the Common Room. At least my thirty six years at the College have given me a distinct advantage over all my predecessors, in that I know personally far more former members of the College than any of them! Indeed it was a great pleasure for me to see so many familiar faces from the past at the recent OB Dinner, which was a fitting tribute to the many years of dedicated and multifarious service to the College of Philip Robinson.
As we set off from Hereford I gave a little sigh and, when questioned by Isobel, admitted that I was wondering why I was setting off on a gloomy November day to drive two hundred miles across England for a dinner. Once we had arrived, however, all doubts were dispelled as we plunged into the happy hubbub of old friends.
This is my last letter as your President and I am in reflective mood.
It has been a very enjoyable and challenging three years.
I have been fortunate to have Fiona Aiken to lean on, organise me and generally make things happen. But I have also been fortunate to have some very committed colleagues on the Committee who have helped to keep the wheels turning. Though it may be inappropriate to single out individuals, I must mention Tim Loadsman who has served more Presidents than even he probably cares to remember. I am grateful to him for his wise counsel and continued patience even when all around him were losing theirs!
Bringing back Commemoration Day to the OB calendar does seem a perfect way to celebrate and acknowledge the 125th Anniversary of the Association, and that the day was graced with terrific weather certainly saved the blushes of those of us who had campaigned so vigorously for this summer replacement to September’s OB Day.
A select gathering of ten Old Brightonians this evening - not the heaving throng we’ve been used to of late, but perhaps the success of the January Drinks (in terms of sheer numbers, at least) had prompted us in our enthusiasm to organise tonight’s gathering a little to soon. Nevertheless, quality more than made up for quantity, and this particular slice of alumni represented some of the most interesting OBs that I have personally had the pleasure to meet.
What an evening! If you don't believe me then just take a look the ‘photos on this website, you will see plenty of animated smiling faces which, for me, sums up the purpose of events like this. Mind you with a combination of Ann Widdecombe as guest speaker, over 150 guests and a large contingent of 1981’ers what more could one expect?
Twenty five years is a long time but what about the 1949 PE team? They were there too and so were quite a few of those who were only yesterday (as it were) walking across the quad without a (real) care in the world. For those of us celebrating a silver anniversary of leaving the College it was for most the first time we had returned for a great many years.
The association’s dinner this year was a select affair. As if consciously to complement last year’s, when 30 years of coeducation was celebrated, an overwhelmingly male party gathered together in the Dining Hall on a cold November night. It was a most convivial evening of good wines, an excellent dinner, and of course one in which nostalgic reminiscences hung in the air like cigar smoke.
More than 80 ‘old girls’ celebrated 30 years of co-education at Brighton College at a special dinner on Saturday 29th November 2003. Speakers included Bill Blackshaw, the former Headmaster who introduced girls to the College and Lucinda Harris (F. 1973-75) who was one of the first girls to join the school. Jane Haviland (F. 1979-81), currently President of the Old Brightonians Association and the first lady elected to this post, also spoke.