I am writing to report some wonderful GCSE results. Incredibly, out of 2,080 exams sat, every single one was a C or better, with the most common grade being an A*.
With 505 grades at A* or A, 117 at grade B, 20 at grade C and 2 at grade D, our delightful outgoing Upper Sixth pupils are today celebrating a stellar end to their time here. Remarkably, 110 sixth formers secured A* and A grades in every single subject, with at least a dozen really wonderful characters pushing up from D grade predictions a year ago to a terrific set of B grades today.
Christmas is a time of giving and of time spent with loved ones, and wherever you are this Christmas I wish you well. I am tremendously proud of my connection with the College, and especially with the Old Brightonians. This year I read with great pride about not only the achievements of the school, which are nothing less than astonishing, but also of the wonderful acts of kindness and generosity within the Brightonian community. In his end of term letter Richard Cairns wrote of the sense of community that the College enjoys; 'I want everyone who leaves here to feel that by their presence they can make the world a little bit better. I want them to recognise that they can make a difference and should.' I would like to urge my fellow OBs to embrace this philosophy.
Dear Old Brightonians, A day from now, term will end. The signs are clear already. Yesterday, boys and girls were sporting Christmas jumpers in aid of the Rocking Horse charity. Today, the porters are lugging bottles of wine, chocolates and flowers across the quad to favoured teachers and House tutors. Vast quantities of cake and chocolate will be consumed in the final few lessons. Christmas lunches will be served, crackers will be pulled, hats donned, jokes told and so the longest term will come to its inevitable conclusion. The college will fall silent. Only a few cold, sad seagulls (and the Bursar) will remain.
I am writing with news of our A-level results. Of the 616 papers sat, the following grades were achieved:
This equates to 96% of grades at A*-B at this stage. These are the grades universities now demand.
The College is currently enjoying unparalleled success under Head Master Richard Cairns and his team, something which we can all be proud of whenever we were at the College. It has somewhat put the College on the map as it were. It has also been a memorable year for the Old Brightonians, for completely different reasons. The year started with a memorial for Sgt Major Chris O'Connell when a few hundred OBs turned up on a freezing January morning to pay their respects to a man who had inspired and been a father figure to many. It had already been a year since Chris O'Connell died, but the effect that he had upon the pupils under his guidance was as palpable as ever.
The Sunday Times has published its latest table of the UK's Top 400 schools and I thought you would be interested to see the attached extract. The table places Brighton College as the second highest performing co-educational school in Britain, the fifth highest performing boarding school in the country and the only school in Britain to have improved its academic performance every single year for six years. It also places the College above many of the country's most selective schools. Brighton is the only Sussex school in the Top 100.
I enclose a picture of my form in the Junior School, about 1946. Recognisable boys are Acker, Woodthorpe, Seagull, Drayson, Little, Hill I and Hill II, Goldstein.
Brighton College continues to give us all cause for celebration, gaining this year not only the best results in Sussex but also being named the ‘Sunday Times UK Independent School of the Year 2011-12’. The Head Master Richard Cairns and his staff are to be congratulated upon this achievement and of course all of the pupils and staff, past and present, who have contributed to this accolade. It is an achievement that all Old Brightonians should celebrate, and as President of the Old Brightonians I would like to pass on my congratulations for your efforts. We all have different memories of our time at the College, but it is truly a school that we can all be proud of.
We had a fabulous letter in this week from Kate Merrin (W/F. 1989-93) who found a photo of a BCJS team on a filmset in Australia. We would love to know the date of the photo, and also the story behind how it got there! Here's the letter for starters, if anyone recognises the photograph please contact the OB office!
I am currently posted to HQ ISAF Joint Command, in Kabul, Afghanistan on a 9 month tour. Christmas day marks the half-way point of the tour. I work in the Campaign & Transition Assessment Group, helping the Afghan Government prepare for and plan their assumption of security responsibility.
I am writing with some fantastic news. The Sunday Times has decided to award Brighton College the title of UK Independent Secondary School of the Year 2011 in their highly influential Sunday Times Schools Guide to be published this Sunday and on line.
Welcome to the Old Brightonians, founded in 1882. We are lucky to have an active network, and we are proud of our long and industrious relationship with Brighton College. I attended Brighton College as a Lyon Scholar in 1952 and left with both wonderful memories and a fine education which I furthered at Pembroke College, Cambridge.
With preparations underway for the World Cup in New Zealand this year, it is with an inflated ego and a great deal of national pride that I humbly submit that we have a new contender this year: The United States of America. That's right: the Eagles will go all the way this year, and no one will see it coming.
For the last month I have been living in rural Nepal, which has been amazing. For a start, the view from my bedroom window is an open meadow, and I am woken up every morning at 5.30 by the squeals of the pig tethered just outside. At the end of the meadow is dense forest, eventually backing onto the mountains. All water is sourced from the handpump in the front garden, and the toilet is no more than a hole in the ground. I have eaten Dahl, rice, vegetables and occasionally goat without exception for the last month, and the only other European face I have seen is that of Mr John Spencer. He stayed in the SOS school for two weeks, coaching cricket and teaching English.
In 1969 the Old Brightonians were invited to take part in the Public Schools knockout competition run by the Cricketer and sponsored by Mercier Champagne. Nobody expected very much from us. We had a good side but not a great one, but we did have self belief and enthusiasm. The first match was against the favourites, the Old Tonbridgians. This was the closest game we played. With the scores equal we won through to the next round, having lost fewer wickets.
Horatio Georgestone was one of the first intake of Kingsford Scholars at the college graduating in 2009. As a pupil, he quickly made his mark on the school community and quickly made many friends. But how has he spent his gap year and has he kept up the pace for which he became known?
John Gifford Stower (H. 1932-33), born September 15th 1916 in the Province of Jujuy, North of Argentina, came to the UK as a youngster in 1925, spending his first years at a small school in Worthing, before finishing his education at Brighton College via Sedbergh. Two years later, aged 20, he returned to Argentina to work in a sugar cane mill close to his place of birth.
I am planning to write a book about the history of Brighton Institution for the Deaf, Eastern Road (1848-1941) which was situated opposite Brighton College. My intention is to draw up the floor plans, and an architectural front & rear elevations of the school buildings.
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.
The recent great successes enjoyed by the College – surely a source of joy to all of us who love the place – have caused the Press to suggest that it was previously a ‘backwater’. So it seems right to refer to the work done in the last fifty years, that work itself laid on earlier foundations. After all, the decade before then produced Lord Alexander, Lord Skidelsky and Bishop Bavin (to say nothing of Sir John Chilcot) among others! And these last fifty years began with a visit from the Queen. Backwater...?!?
Simon Smith has decided to retire at the end of the academic year after 38 years of outstanding service to the college, for the past eleven as Second Master. He has been a wonderful support to me in my five years as Head Master, providing wise counsel, good humour and kindly reassurance throughout. My predecessors, Bill Blackshaw, John Leach and Anthony Seldon, also owe him a terrific debt of gratitude. He has served each of them with great loyalty. Above all, Simon has served this community. He has made time for colleagues and pupils in equal measure, supporting them when times are tough and admonishing them only when necessary.
The shallow one that struck near Christchurch New Zealand, measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale on 04 September was felt 400 kms away in the North Island: we live 45kms from the epicentre.
The broadcast is to mark the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the CITY OF BENARES on 17 September 1940. Apart from the BBC I think The Daily Telegraph and the BBC 'South Today' may have some accounts. The sinking of the CITY OF BENARES was probably the worse disaster concerning children at sea. I am very lucky to have survived. There is an excellent book about the event 'Miracles on the Water' by Tom Nagorski which is available from Amazon.com. You can read excerpts here.
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!
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.
At this year's Annual Dinner, the Head Master gave a fascinating account of our very first OBs' escapades following their time at the College. Following some sneaky pilfering on our part we have at great expense secured a transcript of his speech (we asked for it... he gave it to us...) for your perusal...
I am sorry to have to report the death here on the Isle of Wight on 28 October of Col David Travers Worsley Gibson (ex staff). I had seen DTWG intermittently, socially, over the years, and can vouch for the fact that he remained remarkably alert and interested until very near the end of his 92 years. He taught physics and ran the RN section of the CCF at the College. I have always been conscious of his personal influence, for he inadvertently curtailed my early ambitions to join the Royal Navy, and subsequently his one-to-one physics tuition in the final Oxbridge entrance term propelled me into Cambridge to read medicine instead.
I have just been led down memory lane by Martin D.J.Buss! I, too, went to BCJS 1968-72. The uncanny thing about reading his article is that many of the same teachers / Head Master were there when I arrived! I have often thought that there was a lack of interest in the JS yet the Senior School would have been NOTHING without us Junior School graduates!
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.
I thought you might be interested to hear that following an independent inspection by Ofsted, the boarding facilities and pastoral care at Brighton College were judged to be 'outstanding'. This is a verdict awarded to very few schools, and comes as news reached us that a league table published by the website www.best-schools.co.uk made Brighton the number 1 co-educational boarding school in the UK.
Holly has travelled to Sydney, Australia to play her winter cricket and will join up with the England team for the Women’s World Cup in March.
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.
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.
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!
Dear Old Brightonians,
I would like to put on record my congratulations to all our newest members, the Class of 2007, who have smashed Brighton College A-Level records this year with a staggering 87.5% A and B grades, of which nearly 60% were A grades (see results tables). Brighton College is the top performing school in Sussex, beating Roedean, Lancing, Eastbourne, Hurstpierpoint and Christ Hospital among others.
I promised that in our 125th anniversary year there would be some special events and they don’t come much better than this year’s Commemoration Weekend.
The Leavers’ Ball, the first ever to be held off campus, was a glamorous affair, judged a huge success by the 250 attendees. The following day was a return to the traditional programme of cricket and other sports fixtures against the College, with an informal BBQ on the Home Ground. Though the weather was a bit unreliable at times the atmosphere was fantastic with over 400 people of all ages filing through the College gates. It was a pleasure to welcome the newest OBs following their emotional graduation ceremony in the Chapel and to welcome so many parents and families.
When I think about my walk to work each morning - negotiating the daily hazards of speeding tuk tuks, fierce geese, falling mangos and a decidedly rickety rope bridge - it’s hard to believe that most of the time I do forget that I am in Guatemala. I have only been living in the quiet town of San Agustín, Acasaguastlán for five months, but already it feels like my second home.
Spring finally seems to have arrived and it’s great to see the College looking so colourful, if slightly disrupted by the building work in the Woolton Quad for the new Visual Arts Centre which is to be named in honour of the late Old Brightonian Lord Alexander.
Another Old Brightonian whose untimely and premature death affected many of us was of course Joe Scourfield. I am delighted that the OBA was able to contribute to the appeal for a memorial in the College Chapel and the fund which has been established in his name to help BC families affected by the severe illness of a son or daughter. The fund remains open for OBs and others who wish to contribute and I would invite you to contact me to obtain details of how you can help.
Please remind young Christopher Pett that Aldrich House had plenty to shout about in 1962. We had recently moved from the anterooms of the Hall into the main body of the College, and under Geoff Lees’ “really” canny guidance, Aldrich was proving it could challenge the dominance of the boarding houses in all aspects of school life.
Following the sell-out Annual Dinner in 2006, which was addressed by Ann Widdecombe, this year’s Guest of Honour is none other than Philip Robinson. Known and loved by generations of OBs for his dry wit, his masterful direction of College theatre (often as part of the hugely successful Smith-Robinson partnership), and for gently pushing many a lazy student towards exam success, it is no wonder that half of the tickets have been sold already. It’s going to be a night of nostalgia with the Class of 1987 already booked and several other year groups re-establishing contact with one another. My strong advice is book early and drag your mates along too!
Happy New Year to Old Brightonians the world over and welcome to the OBA’s 125th anniversary year. The celebrations got off to a great start with the traditional belated new year celebration London Drinks (photos). We enjoyed the fantastic surroundings of the new Rocket bar and restaurant at Adams Court in the City and were joined by more than 30 Old Brightonians from across the last five decades. The next London Drinks will be held in the Spring, so please check the Events page for the date.
In August 1939 I had already got my uniform to go to King's College, Wimbledon, when my parents decided that war was imminent and that I should become a boarder at a school not close to London.