It is a privilege to be President of the Association of Old Brightonians and I relish the challenges ahead – not least, getting to know the thousands of Old Brightonians.
Letters from the President
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.
This year we celebrate 160 years of Brighton College and it is a delight to see the place in such good shape - consistent successes in sports locally and nationally, (and even internationally!), star performances in Drama, Dance, Public Speaking, Art, Music; the creation of a new charity to help communities affected by the Tsunami disaster in Sri Lanka in addition to the College’s many other charitable involvements, the continued strength of the Cadet Force, the strength of the Chapel, the roll-out of new facilities and new buildings – there has never been a time to be more proud to count ourselves as Old Brightonians.
Not just Old Boys! - Anyone who believed the Old Brightonian Association was just a bunch of old men would be surprised these days. For one thing, we’re not all men – girls have been educated at Brighton College for more than two decades now and I am pleased to see that more and more of them are returning to OB events such as the London Drinks (next one 10 May!).
As Brighton College celebrates its 160th anniversary, in spite of several near misses, it is good to see the place continuing to evolve, experiment, and adapt. I am sure that just as Anthony Seldon will be missed when he leaves us at the end of December, so the newly appointed Headmaster, Richard Cairns, will make his own mark and make his own changes. Sometimes we will approve of those changes, other times not, but he will be aware that to retain the College’s position as a school of excellence, standing still is not an option.
This is proving to be a tremendous year for the Old Brightonians. As reported elsewhere on this website our social events have been proving more popular than ever and reunions are taking place across the generations. It is especially pleasing to see so many young members getting involved, though our sports teams still need players, so please contact John Aiken if you’re interested (talented or not!).
The Annual Dinner in November has sold out but we have made additional space by booking the Blackshaw Room as well as the Dining Hall, so some tickets are still available. There are a number of reunions taking place that evening including a 1980 Silver Reunion, and a gathering of the 1949 PT Team, while the OB Lodge will be hosting two tables. We are also offering all post-1997 leavers discounted tickets as this will be Dr Seldon’s last formal engagement with the OBA as Headmaster. There are already over 120 guests confirmed, and many more who have reserved tickets, so if you would like to join us, please contact us without delay.
If anyone thought the departure of Dr Seldon would also signal the departure of the camera crews and hacks we’ve grown used to seeing around the College they were wrong. After what seemed like only a few minutes in the job, Richard Cairns marked the Chinese New Year by making Mandarin Chinese (Puotonghuà as it is called in Chinese) compulsory for all new pupils at the College and instantly he was the lead item on national news broadcasts across Asia – and CNN, the BBC, most of Europe... Hits to the College website reached their monthly average in one day, calls from diplomats and government departments, not to mention prospective parents, from across the world flooded the College switchboard.
The new Headmaster of Brighton College has certainly made his presence felt, what with making Mandarin Chinese compulsory for all students and teaching History to the Fourth Form! With his worldwide search for a young lad to benefit from the Peyton Scholarship, he has also enjoyed considerable media exposure.
Well it’s certainly all change here. It wasn’t enough to be appointed the new Development Director for Brighton College, I then went and got myself selected to stand for Parliament in Eltham, a key marginal constituency in South East London, for the Conservative Party. But fear not. As much as the OBA Administrator was hoping I’d have rather less time to find things to add to her list of tasks, it simply means I get up earlier and go to bed later!
We have, perhaps, become blasé to the College’s regular coverage in the British media but recent reports in Le Monde, The China Morning Post, The Sydney Morning Herald and on CNN, the BBC World Service and Chinese national television have helped the College to gain an international reputation for excellence and innovation. The College remains a British school with an international outlook rather than an international school in the UK and offers places to only the brightest and most promising overseas students, many of whom remain in contact with the College in later life through the OBA.
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.
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!