3 October 2015
The former school choir members return to the former site of Wandsworth School for their annual reunion. A very moving event for many Old Wandsworthians who recall their time at the school. It was held in the main refectory hall of Saint Cecilia’s School in Sutherland Grove. The event was arranged once again by Ray Pritchard and on behalf of all the choir members; we thank him for his hard work in making this event happen. The following is a copy of Ray’s speech at the gathering, along with photos of the evening:-
“A very warm welcome to you all for this, our thirteenth choir reunion.”
Well, who would have thought that nearly 50 of us who enjoyed so many hours of music making here in Sutherland Grove, would be back on the same site all these years later. We have a lot to thank Saint Cecilia’s School for, because without their help and cooperation, particularly Amy Pearson, the Business Manager and Jonathan Nix, the Catering Manager, it would not have been possible.
It is interesting to recall that almost 61 years ago to the day; a new music director started his new job in a classroom which must have been pretty close to where I am standing now! Yes, Room 12. That Director of Music, Russell Burgess, was referred to in a Christmas broadcast by John Rutter back in 2009, as the music director from heaven. What a wonderful tribute to an incredible man, who we still honour and remember with fondness and gratitude all these years later.
This year, we welcome back Andy Kettle and Martin Saxby, who have not been able to join us since the first reunion back in 1997! It’s also good to have Johnny Wojciechowski back with us – most of us haven’t seen him since 2002 – who said he hasn’t changed? It’s also good to see both Dan Milne and George Willis with us again.
I would also like to extend a very special welcome to Ian Partridge and his wife Ann, who joined us last year and it really is a pleasure to see you both here again. Unfortunately, we cannot stop the progress of time and the years have caught up with a few of our regulars.
Cynthia Phillimore would love to be with us all, but unfortunately cannot travel much now. She very kindly sent a card wishing us well, which is on show on the table. Nigel Spearing is also unable to attend, as ongoing Alzheimer’s is taking its toll, and as I think I mentioned last year, this means he is unable to ride his bike – but he is 85!
As usual, I’ve put on display the messages from all those who have written with their apologies – about 25 in all. Plus, I have had phone calls from a few others who also wanted me to pass on their good wishes: John Bourton; Ted Burden; Iain Coombes; not forgetting Ron Hollis; & Brian Johnston. Sadly, we lost dear Wilf Finbow back in June and fittingly, there was a very good Wandsworth representation at his funeral. Soon after his, I heard that Sheldon Whitesman, who only joined us for the first time just last year, had also died earlier this year.
Twelve months ago, I remember saying a big ‘thank you’ to everyone for making sure that you replied in good time. What a difference a year makes! Without doubt, due to people not letting me know until the last minute, this has been the hardest of all 13 events to organise and the guilty ones will know who they are, so no naming and shaming. Some of you don’t realise how difficult it is to organise things when you go well beyond deadlines before confirming, and at one point I had to chase over a dozen people who had said they were coming, but had not confirmed.
Once again, we must not let the evening pass without a big thank you to the Old Wandsworthian’s Memorial Trust for their generous grant for these reunions. Without their support, which is greatly appreciated, the cost per head would inevitably have to increase and this is now the eighth year that we have been able to keep the cost at £25 per head.
A year ago, I was very pleased to announce that, with the help of the OWMT’s web manager, Sean Hart, I had finally managed to set up our own website, devoted entirely to the choir, which is linked to the OW’s own main site. This is what I said last year: Obviously, a great deal of memorabilia is duplicated within our own personal collections, but there will be certain items that only one or two of us possess, so please let me know in the near future what you have, that you think should be included – it may be the only copy!
Disappointingly, I have not heard a word from anyone! It is our own website and it will only include what we provide. I therefore need your cooperation to keep www.wandsworthschoolchoir.org as up to date as possible.
I did mention them earlier, but the caterers have done a brilliant job looking after us this evening and I’m sure we would all like to express our thanks to Jonathan Nix, the Catering Manager and his team for an excellent meal, plus some cheerful and efficient service. I would also like to thank Amy Pearson, the Business Manager, who has been more than just helpful – she has gone out of the way to make us all welcome back ‘home’, which I’m sure we all greatly appreciate.
Attendees 3rd October 2015 – attendance list: Neil Baugh, Graham Day, Keith Eldridge, David Gibson, Glyn Harvey, Steve Hattersley, Jim Hughes, David Hyde, Jenny Hyde, Trevor Johnson, Chris Jolly, Robin Jones, Andy Kettle, Peter Love, Dan Milne, Pat Morgan, Geoff Park, Ian Partridge, Graham Preston, Ray Pritchard, Martin Saxby, Fred Shaub, Albert (Buz) Shrewsbury, Andy Smetham, Rob Smith, Juliet Solomon, Mark Stevens, Phil Stoneham, Syd Taylor, Adrian Thompson, Judy Thompson, John Tobin, Geoff Wake, George Willis, John Wojciechowski, Ian York.