Versa: Issue One


Versa is a biannual publication and will be published every autumn and spring term. Versa will replace the former magazine, OA Bulletin and will offer a comprehensive insight into the many facets of alumni life.









From unauthorised tuck shops to a

team of 50 and a product in Selfridges




this issue

Editorial Team

Chris Harbour

Sarah Osborne

Sign up to receive Versa magazine 2

OA President’s notes 3

OA News 4

OA Events 6


Lines by Niall Matthews 9

Featured OA: Adam Sopher 10

Ask the Archivist 12


Play your Part 14

OA merchandise 15

La grande finale 16

The OA Lodge 17

Sports News 18

Your say 22

Upcoming events /

How we use your data 23



St Albans School


Old Albanian


St Albans School

St Albans School Foundation | CHARITY NO. 1092932




Mike Hodge

07774 161624


David Buxton

01727 840499


David Hughes

07701 027881

Membership Secretary

Roger Cook

01727 836877




Paul Richardson

07918 633 031


Rusty Osman

07976 292737


Rick Powdrell

07795 200125


Peter Lipscomb

01727 760466

Mini Chairman

Mike Fisher

Junior Chairman

Ian Tomlins

07867 971585

OA Saints Chairperson

Kate Barnes

07841 706250



Nick Jackson



Tony Dalwood

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Richard Morgan

01727 843844


Richard Ransley

07878 499432


Alison Finley

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Membership Enquiries

Maureen Harcourt

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Andrew Wilkie

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Geoff Cannon

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Peter Dredge

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Assistant Secretary

John Williams

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Development Director

Kate Gray

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Alumni Relations &

Development Manager

Chris Harbour

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Development & Archives


Hannah Nelson

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Campaign Assistant

Sarah Osborne

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Editorial Team

Chris Harbour

Alumni Relations & Development


Sarah Osborne

Campaign Assistant


The Old Albanian

Committee will meet for

the 125th Annual General

Meeting on the 6th December

2017 to be held at 20:00 in

the ‘948’ room of the OA

Pavilion, Woollams.

All members are welcome

to attend and new members

to the committee are

encouraged to join.


to receive

Versa magazine

This first edition of Versa magazine (previously the OA Bulletin)

has been sent to all Old Albanians. However, in order to continue

receiving a postal copy of this publication, you will need to opt-in.

We understand that the majority of OAs prefer the ease and

convenience of reading about the School and its alumni online;

therefore, we will only produce hard copies of Versa magazine

for alumni who have requested to receive it.

On page 23 you will read further information about how the

School handles your data and the updates we are making to our

communications and data policies, in light of the GDPR regulations

which are due to be enforced.

If you would like to continue to receive a copy of Versa by post,

you can opt-in via the following methods:

Sign up online:


and follow the instructions on the homepage


Email us at


Phone us on 01727 515184


Complete and return the slip below:

Name: ................................................................................................

Address: ............................................................................................




I would like to receive a free copy of Versa by post, sent

to the address above.



Mike Hodge, OA President

In the June 2017 edition of this publication, I closed my

President’s Notes with “We have an interesting summer of

politics ahead”. Maybe that was not one of the best things I

have written and I will now avoid political comment! There

has been much to applaud in the OA arena so let’s get on with

some more positive stuff.

Back in May, I had a splendid session with John Meulkens

who, at 99, is our oldest OA – now living in Amsterdam.

John was over here visiting and proved to be as sharp as the

proverbial tack. He plays the piano every day and this keeps

his fingers nimble and his brain sharp. He was at the School

in the 1930s where, he reminded me, he was taught Maths by

my grandfather, Frank “Pi” Walker. John still remembers his

Maths lessons with affection. I remember my Maths lessons

too – I am not sure “with affection”. You will see a write up of

John’s visit on page 16.

June was packed with OA and School events. Early in the

month I met with seven of my School year in The Digby Tap

in Sherborne – more of this on page 8. Then, there was a

reunion lunch for the years of 1967 and 1974. I saw the name

Niall Matthews (OA 1974) on the list and tracked him down.

Niall’s father, John, had been instrumental in teaching me

in my early days when I worked for Customs and Excise. It

was wonderful to catch up with Niall, though sadly his father

had died comparatively recently. You must read his thought

provoking poem on page 9.

On Sunday 18th June, we had the OA President’s Summer

Lunch at Woollams. About 80 of us attended and a good

time was had by all. Roger Cook and Geoff Cannon were

made Honorary Life Vice Presidents of the OA Club for their

fantastic efforts over the years. Nick and Andy Chappin were

also presented with the OA President’s Cup for their work

on the OA Bulletin over the last twenty years. June was the

last edition they created, with the School now picking up the

reins of production (see Headmaster’s Notes in the reverse of

the magazine). As I have said before in previous editions, the

Chappin brothers have, doublehandedly, masterminded the

whole production of the OA Bulletin. The OAs cannot thank

them enough.

The weekend of 24th June was filled with my old School

Hockey Players’ Golf meeting followed by an OA Legends

XI cricket match against the OAs select XI. Both events were

blessed with wonderful weather. The sun – as we all know –

shines upon the righteous.

I attended the School Graduation ceremony the following

week where the School said ‘goodbye’ to 140 or so Upper

Sixth leavers. Whilst the School might be saying goodbye, the

OA Club is saying welcome to all these students. The best way

to keep in touch is through the School’s Development Office.

They issue a quarterly e-newsletter with updates and event

reminders. In the words I delivered to the students, I cribbed

from an article I had seen in the Daily Telegraph about the

‘Five Life Skills’ which are said to bring health, wealth and

success throughout life. I should have read this in June 1965

when I walked, for the last time, out of the gates at Upper

Yard. The skills are – Emotional Stability, Determination,

Optimism, Control and Conscientiousness. I have to say that I

don’t agree with all of this – I would certainly add ‘try to make

people happy’. The future is what you make it. Try to keep

smiling. The Head of School, Will Stewart, gave one of the

best speeches I have ever heard delivered. Quite brilliant – he

has a great future.

Then into July and the annual Founders’ Day service, which

was exceptional both in music and content. The Headmaster

involved students from various years to take the congregation

through the history of the School. It is so interesting as one

would expect from a School founded in 948AD! Please do

read the Headmaster’s Notes in the flipside of this magazine

where he mentions the exceptional results from this year’s

GCSEs and A levels. I will not comment further except

to say that I compliment everyone at the School on these

magnificent results.

Elsewhere in the magazine, you will find reports on the

various sports sections. Of special mention must be the OA

Cricket where the 1st XI kept their place in their league

for the next season, the 2nd XI were promoted and the 3rd

XI were Champions and promoted. The newly formed OA

Football side has now been accepted into the Arthurian

League where I am sure they will work their way up through

the leagues.

Finally, I am just about to start working with the Development

Office on putting together a ‘Diamond Geezers’ reunion for

mid-September 2018. ‘My’ year started at the School on 18th

September 1958 so 2018 will be our 60th anniversary. There

will, undoubtedly, be more on this in later editions.

Meanwhile, I wish all readers health, happiness and fitness.

The OA Club is in very good heart and the School continues

to flourish. All is good then.


OA News



Former St Albans School parents, Chris and Kayo, appeared on

Channel 4’s Grand Designs in September. They discuss with us

the highs and lows of building your own home...

We’ve been lucky enough to live within the grounds of the Abbey

since 2005, which was convenient for our son who would often

roll out of bed 10-minutes before registration and run up the hill.

Next door to us sat a three-acre area of land that was owned by

a St Albans family for around 60 years. The land was overgrown

and ragged, often used as a secret den for St Albans School boys.

In 2008, I approached an architect friend of mine about the

prospects of designing something to fit on the site. We knew it

fell within the Scheduled Ancient Monument boundary and so

would need the blessing of Historic England. Any development

in that area has to be signed off by the Secretary of State. A little

daunted, we began on what would become a 10-year journey to

build a one-off, unique house that would do credit to the amazing

location. Historic England played a key role in helping us

determine the position, shape, size and design of the house, but

we found them very positive to work with. The Abbey were also

very kind in supporting the project.

The project has also been followed by Gary Calvert, Head of

Creative, Technical & Performing Arts, and some of his students

over the years. Kevin McCloud even filmed part of the Grand

Designs programme in the Gateway.

Fast forward to 2017 and the house is finished and we’re in

residence. It’s a beautiful house in amazing grounds with great

views of the Abbey and the river flowing through our garden.

You can watch the episode at



of the Year

Ranked 100 at singles and 44 at doubles by the NCAA

(National Collegiate Athletic Association), tennis

star Charlie Broom (OA 2016) has been named Ivy

League Rookie of the Year – the first time a player from

Dartmouth has achieved this status.

Broom spent his summer playing against and training

with some of the best players in the world. The rising

sophomore tested and honed his skills in five ATP

professional level events and capped off the summer by

winning his first professional title in Belgium, teaming up

with Colin Sinclair of Australia to win the doubles event.

Charlie has since been training back in the UK.

“I’m very pleased with my achievements

this summer… but I’m looking forward

to training hard and competing for

Dartmouth this season”



in the Den

We were ready to do something different and so started

brainstorming ideas. As big travellers, we thought about our

biggest bugbears when backpacking. One was definitely the

towel. Traditional cotton towels were nice to look at but big

and bulky and would get damp and collect smells. Microfibre

towels were small, dull and rough against the skin but had

great benefits such as being compact and quick drying. So we

set out to reinvent the towel and Dock & Bay was born.

After six-months building the business, we made the leap and

quit our jobs. Ben moved back to Australia and I took out a

£30k bank loan to invest in the business and moved over there

temporarily. Following that, I returned home and built the

business on my parents’ kitchen table. We’ve now sold over

200,000 units worldwide and sell in 11 different markets, the

growth has been rapid!



After a grilling in the Den, Andy Jefferies (OA 2007) talks to

us about his time at School, new company Dock & Bay and

recent investment by Dragon Deborah Meaden...

It’s 10 years ago since I left St Albans School. Good times were

always had on those grounds and I think I was nicknamed

‘cheeky chappy’ by Mr Gould!

After leaving Leeds University, I worked in one of the UK

retail banks for three years and in the last year, I worked for

their Digital Division where I met Ben (my business partner).

We applied for Dragons’ Den as it’s not often you get to stand

in front of five investors worth a combined total of close to

£700m and pitch your business.

The Den was a daunting place with a gruelling one-and-ahalf-hour

questioning, much of which you don’t see on TV –

but we came out with a new investor in Deborah Meaden.

She had been the most supportive of us, making fair

challenges and putting forward a fair offer based on our

business position.

We have since signed on the dotted line with Deborah and

have a great opportunity to work closely and use her wealth of

knowledge, experience and contacts to take our brand to the

next level!

Get your Dock & Bay towel at:


In August, Robbie Lightowler (OA 2015) represented GB at the ITU Multisport

World Championships in Penticton, British Columbia, and was crowned World

Champion in both the Duathlon and the Aquathlon.

His first event was the Sprint Duathlon, in which Adam Thorpe (OA 2015) also

competed. In the Age Group category, there were 440 men. Robbie finished first in

the 20-24 age group with Adam second.

In the second event, the Aquathlon – a 1000m open water swim followed by 5k run

– Robbie competed in the Elite Race. In the Age Group category there were 400 men

and Robbie finished first in his age group and first overall. If he had been competing

in the Elite Men’s category, his dad, David Lightowler, estimates he would have

placed third:

“The reason for an estimate is that it cannot strictly be done on time since in

Robbie’s race, wet suits were allowed but in the Elite Men they were not.

Over a 1000m this would give an approximate 40 second advantage to the wet suit

wearer, less about 12 seconds for having to take the suit off in transition”.

“Robbie’s swim time was exceptional at 12.36

– with the fastest Elite man recording 13.04”

6 OA Events




and afternoon tea

On Saturday 16th September, we welcomed the return

of OAs to play in our annual netball match against the

first VII. Seven OAs, all of whom left St Albans School in

2014, came back to brush up on their netball skills and

try to defeat the current squad. Although the OA girls

were unable to secure a victory, they thoroughly enjoyed

their nostalgic visit to Woollams. Afterwards, the OAs

and the current squad enjoyed a well-deserved Prosecco

afternoon tea while they reminisced about their time at

School and discussed their future plans.



The annual Haileybury Sixes competition is always a

highlight in the hockey calendar for OAs. On Sunday

24th September, St Albans School alumni put in a

sterling effort against teams such as Bryanston, Clifton

and of course Haileybury.

We reached the Quarter Finals, losing to this

year’s winners of the competition, St Edwards.

Congratulations go to OAs Robin Pendock (2011),

Bradley Hudson (2010), Alex Terry (2013), Harry

Di-Lieto (2013), Nial Parkash (2013), Michael

Grimshaw (2010) and our two current students, Bertie

Arbuthnott and Chris Fletcher.

It was great to see some recent leavers returning to play

after three years at University. The Development Office is

keen to organise future events which encourage female OAs

to get together with old friends at the School. Whether it’s

a netball match, a curry night or even a gin tasting evening,

please do let us know what kind of event would interest

you. We are keen to hear your suggestions!

Please contact the Development Office at







We were delighted to welcome back Mitchell

Zhangazha (OA 2013) on Thursday 5th October

for one of our ‘An Evening with…’ events. West

End actor Mitchell kicked off the evening with a

fascinating discussion about his career, followed by

a Q&A session hosted by Danny Swanson (Drama)

on his experiences working in theatre, including

the West End productions of Thriller Live!, Peter

Pan, Oliver!, The Lion King and Chitty Chitty Bang

Bang. Mitchell also treated us to some stunning

vocals and sang ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ by

Stevie Wonder, ‘Who’s Lovin’ You’ by Jackson Five

and ‘Reet Petite’ by Jackie Wilson. Mitchell has

acted in the West End since the age of seven and is

making an excellent start to his professional career,

having recently taken a lead role in the Edinburgh

production of Five Guys Named Moe. We look

forward to following his career in the future!

Read more about this event on the School side of

the magazine.


A big thanks goes to all of the OAs who joined us for the OA

Dinner on Friday 22nd September. It was a great success and

one of our biggest OA Dinner turnouts!

The evening started with optional School tours, a drinks

reception with prosecco and culminated with a two-course

Steak & Guinness pie dinner and a lemon mousse to finish.

With around 100 people in attendance, tables were organised

chronologically by year group and we were able to reunite

many OAs with old friends. It was a walk through time and a

great chance to not only reminisce with contemporaries, but

also a chance to meet OAs from other years and see how the

School has changed over time.



St Albans 1st XV

We were delighted to see a great OA turnout on Friday

15th September for one of the first big rugby fixtures of

the term – St Albans School 1st XV v Mill Hill. As we had

brought in floodlights for the occasion, OAs were able to

meet in the School Pavilion and enjoy a bar and bacon and

sausage butties, whilst watching a great game. SAS won the

match 17-7 so it was a great end to a successful evening!

We hope to invite more OAs back to Woollams for

future matches so please keep an eye on your emails

and social media.

Alan Philpott (OA 1962) brought in a long-lost piece of St

Albans School history; an old toy bear sporting a St Albans

School uniform, owned by Paul Gismondi (OA 1970). The

bear was Paul’s mascot during his School days, and his mother

created the kit out of an old scarf and badge.

Mike Hodge (OA President) gave one of his famous speeches

at the end of the Dinner and paid the OA Club’s ‘annual fee’ of

one peppercorn to the Headmaster.

We were pleased to launch our new book, Inspiring Old

Albanians, at the Dinner which proved a great success –

selling out of all of the stock on the table! If you would like to

buy a copy, please take a look at page 15 for details on how to

purchase merchandise.

We hope that next year’s OA Dinner will be equally successful

and you should expect to hear from us in August 2018 with

news of the next theme!




1963 reunion

by Mike Darby (OA 1963)


The 19th July 1963 was the last day of term and the nine

members of Maths Upper went their separate ways (most

of whom are pictured above). Fifty years later, to the day,

six of us had a reunion meal at Lussmanns. One other

of our number, Andy Lister, was traced to Australia, but

said it was rather a long way to come! Since then we have

met biannually and in 2015 managed to fix a date so that

Andy could join us. On 4th July this year we were hosted

by the School’s Development Office. We were given a

tour of the School, and reminisced about the Walnut

tree in the Orchard and the former CCF rifle range, and

many other things. We were disappointed that the ‘maths

room’ where we spent so much of our time with Harry

Schofield (and other teachers) at the top of the Science

block no longer existed, having been amalgamated with

the former TLR (Top Lecture Room). We marvelled at

the new swimming pool and contrasted it with the pool

at Belmont. Afterwards, we went into St Albans and had

a coffee in St Peter’s Street before returning to 5, Fishpool

Street for an excellent meal prepared and served by the

School’s caterers. All in all, it was an excellent day.

If any reader of this piece has knowledge of the contact

details for our two ‘missing’ members, P(eter) N R

Chadwick (last heard of in Germany) or D(avid) M

Griffiths (last heard of in Canada), I would be pleased if

you would let me know via the Development Office.


old boys meeting

by Mike Hodge (OA 1065)

In June, eight of us OAs from the 1965 vintage, made our

annual pilgrimage to the Digby Tap in Sherborne. We first

met on 18th September 1958 on our first day at School and

motivated by the first 50th year reunion in 2008, our splinter

group has carried on with a small annual reunion. Apologies for

absence were received from Pete Smith who was attending his

Godmother’s 95th birthday. Fair enough.

We chose The Digby Tap because it is a sort of ‘central’ point

for us travelling OAs. Our homes range from Sidmouth, Bath,

Fairford, Oxford, Belgium, Hoddesdon and Harpenden. Mike

Nurton now lives in Sherborne and also gets an invite. All of us

have had very different careers, which shows the benefit of the

wide educational basis provided by the School. Many subjects

were discussed and many things were put right. It was as if none

of us had been away – the humour and stories were endless. The

landlord at The Digby Tap is keen to have us back next year (8th

June 2018) as it is a very good day for his takings!

We ‘Diamond Geezers’ are now contemplating another reunion

on or around 18th September 2018 to celebrate 60 years since

we were ‘new bugs’!

1967 & 1974



This summer marked 50 years since the Classes of 1967

started, and the Class of 1974 left St Albans School. In

celebration, we held a Golden Jubilee Reunion for these two

year groups, bringing together just under 50 OAs, some of

whom had not seen each other since their School days!

The group enjoyed a tour of the School site and an

update from the Headmaster on where we are today

and future plans. It was then up to Woollams to enjoy

lunch and a drink in the School Pavilion. For some, the

reminiscing continued long into the night in the local St

Albans pubs!

Thank you to all who attended and we hope to see you

again soon.





by Niall Matthews

(OA 1974)


takes a cigarette i

the park


come to a strange place

we’ll talk over old times ii

twentieth century boys iii

distant memories




by different shards of glass

my salad days

when I was green in judgment

cold in blood

to say as I said then

but come


get me ink and paper iv

fingers stained royal blue

the smell of ink in the bottle

when the white eagle of the north

is flying overhead v

arma virumque cano vi

I sing of arms and a man

cross-country runs along the flint


where roman boots

once beat in cadence

boot caliga caligae



blanco on khaki webbing

the last post


so many, many songs were waiting

to be sung vii

the ablative absolute long forgotten viii


I still conjure latin roots

e ducere

lead out



the duke of edinburgh

swiss time was running out

it seemed that we would lose the race

smoke on the water

fire in the sky ix

we mixed emotions

in clever retorts

we used

slide rules




I got a silver machine

it flies sideways through time x

pocket chess

the french defence

cela se fait à paris! xi

but that’s what’s done in paris

baguettes and bottled beer

hey babe, take a walk on the wild

side xii

il pleure dans mon coeur comme il

pleut sur la ville xiii

tears in my heart like the rain on

the town

je t’aime

moi non plus xiv

I love you... me neither



can’t even think of a word that

rhymes xv







bet you’re wond’ring how I knew xvi

gowns unfurling like black wings

jackets of tweed or beige linen


some were kind

going back to find

to a simpler place ’n’ time xvii

I could last forever

outlast the sea

the earth

and all men xviii

in our paintings

the teacher

always found a line to admire

the smell of oil paints

this my hand will rather

the multitudinous seas incarnadine

making the green one red xix

no more will my green sea go turn a

deeper blue xx

der die das

a sharply-dressed

german german teacher

carried a brown leather

accusative case

we rowdily



über den wolken muss die freiheit

wohl grenzenlos sein

above the clouds freedom has no

borders xxi

do I der to eat a peach? xxii

cabin’d, cribb’d, confined, bound in

to saucy doubts and fears xxiii

a gentle english teacher

showed us the jokes in shakespeare

you were half blasted ere I knew

you xxiv

he collected shopping bags

tonight I’ll lose my head

tonight I’ve got to get

tonight xxv

film club

old oak pews

film reels flickering

strangers on a train xxvi

fingers stretching for a lighter

is there concrete all around

or is it in my head xxvii

walking home through the park

in my striped school blazer

three boys from the secondary


looking grim

fell into step

a girl called out

“he’s my brother”

and reluctantly they faded away

I never saw her again

kicking around on a piece of ground

in your home town xxviii

at a rock concert

a girl from the grammar school


though the music is lethal

let the night take me in xxix

visiting years later

on the hill

is the shop where I got my first



somebody’s shouting

up at a mountain

only my own words return xxx

in the high street

a man sitting on the pavement


“change please!”

but we had already changed

time may change me

but I can’t trace time xxxi

in the end

maybe there were no answers

only questions

and I know where to find some good


the park


and as for


he’s waiting in the wings xxxii

i David Bowie, Rock ‘n’ roll Suicide

ii Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, Somebody called me Sebastian

iii Twentieth Century Boy, title of a song by T Rex

iv Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra act 1 scene 5

v The Moody Blues, The Dream

vi Vergil, the Aeneid, opening line

vii Dusty Springfield, Yesterday When I Was Young

viii = an ablative absolute

ix Deep Purple, Smoke on the Water

x Hawkwind, Silver Machine

xi Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary part 3 section 1

xii Lou Reed, Take a Walk on the Wild Side

xiii Paul Verlaine, Il Pleure dans mon Coeur… from Romances sans paroles

xiv Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, Je t’aime… moi non plus

xv Alice Cooper, School’s Out

xvi Marvin Gaye, I Heard It Through the Grapevine

xvii Gladys Knight and the Pips, Midnight Train to Georgia

xviii Joseph Conrad, Youth

xix Shakespeare, Macbeth act 2 scene 2

xx The Rolling Stones, Paint it Black

xxi Reinhard Mey, Über den Wolken

xxii Do I dare to eat a peach? T S Eliot, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock

xxiii Shakespeare, Macbeth act 3 scene 4

xxiv Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra act 3 scene 13

xxv Easybeats, Friday on my Mind, covered by David Bowie on Pinups

xxvi Strangers on a Train, directed by Alfred Hitchcock from a novel by Patricia Highsmith

xxvii Mott the Hoople, All the Young Dudes

xxviii Pink Floyd, Time

xxix Mick Ronson, Music is Lethal

xxx Deep Purple, Pictures of Home

xxxi David Bowie, Changes

xxxii David Bowie, Time


10 Featured OA





Gourmet Popcorn

From unauthorised tuck shops to a team of 50 and a product

in Selfridges – Adam Sopher (OA 2003) talks to us about

School life at St Albans and his globally successful family

creation, Joe & Seph’s Popcorn.

While you were at the School, did you have any idea

what sort of work you wanted to go into?

No, at the time I knew I wanted to go into business in

some shape or form, but I didn’t really know how to

get there. So I did the ‘usual’ and went to university

and studied something broad to keep my options

open. I went to Nottingham to study Economics, as

I was quite motivated by doing something analytical

and in the City, but I was ultimately interested in


Were there any teachers who were particularly

influential or memorable?

I particularly remember Mr Walker, Mr Tolman, who

left to join Harrow School at the time, and my French

teacher Mrs Percival. They were great teachers. Mr

Tolman was my Form Tutor and Economics teacher

– he got me really passionate about economics. Mrs

Percival taught me French which has become very

useful in my business.

Was there anything during your School experience

that you feel was particularly valuable?

I guess it’s all the different elements that School teaches

and provides you with, like the academic side as well

as extra-curricular activities like sports – which wasn’t

really my thing! I met some really good people who

I have stayed friends with too. There are two or three

people from School in particular who I’m still close

to, so that has a long-lasting impact. I even ended up

sharing a house with a lot of the people who went to

Nottingham from School, so there was that continuity.

On the side, I set up a website whilst at School. At the

time the web was relatively new, so I taught myself

basic HTML and launched a website. I put my GCSE

revision notes on the website and called it GCSE

Guide. I sold that about three years ago. I also ran

a tuck shop from my locker which the Headmaster

actually closed down!

What did you do after leaving Nottingham


I graduated with a First and got a job in the City at

Deloitte management consulting – they allowed me

to defer my start date for a year so that I could go

travelling with a guaranteed job offer at the end. I

travelled all around the world including Australia,

New Zealand and Asia. It was a great experience

and I learnt about all different customs, cuisines and

cultures. It definitely broadened my horizons.

I spent two years working for Deloitte’s telecom and

media clients, such as BT, Daily Mail and various

others, doing consulting projects all over Europe.

From there, I made the move to Dixons where I

learnt an awful lot, as they were going through quite a

challenging time. I then started getting itchy feet again

and wanted to do something in a smaller business

where I would have more of an impact.

“Take advantage of all of the opportunities that

school and university have to offer. They will

always help at some point in life”


How did you end up in your current job?

My dad was retired and had been making popcorn

(which he’d been making since we were kids). My

mum was a stay-at-home-mum and was eager to

do something in a work environment. The three of

us decided to have a go and launched a premium

popcorn company. The recipes are so different to the

norm with unique flavours and premium packaging.

We air-pop the corn and don’t fry it. We also sieve out

all the small pieces so you won’t get any corn kernels

leftover. All of it came together well and we really

loved the taste. I took some tasters into Dixons and

everyone really liked them, and so did our friends and

family. In October 2010, we attended a BBC food show

in West London, which is a big consumer show with

lots of stands where people can taste and buy products.

In the course of two days we sold out and said “Ah,

this has gone well, we might have a business here”.

After the food show, Selfridges got in touch and said

they were interested in working with us. It was here we

decided to develop the business.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?

Too much is possibly the answer! Today I’m visiting

a new building that we’re hoping to move our offices

to because we’re out-growing our existing offices

in London. I’m working on a new product. I am

catching up with my team, including the operations,

marketing and sales teams. In September, I was in

Dubai selling popcorn to the Middle East, and there’s a

lot of customer management too. We work with many

large customers such as Cineworld and Waitrose, so I

respond to them daily. There’s a real variety.

I work with my parents, and my brother has joined

the business now. We are spread across the building

though, so we’re not stepping on each other’s toes all

the time. My dad looks after popcorn production, my

mum looks after our warehouse and I look after the

sales strategy and marketing side of the business.

What have been your biggest challenges to date?

One of the biggest challenges with any business is cash

flow. We need to make sure that we have enough cash

to fund growth, especially with a business growing

as fast as ours. It’s especially important because some

retailers don’t pay for 60 days after we’ve delivered the


We manufacture in our own production kitchens

and don’t outsource. We have a large team of over 50

people and we’re growing rapidly, which is a challenge.

Six years ago, when we first launched popcorn flavours

such as the Gin and Tonic popcorn, people asked us

what we had done with the usual salted and sweet

popcorn, because that was all the UK knew. There were

a number of challenges getting customers to actually

try it!

And your biggest success?

The first was seeing our products in Selfridges. It’s

great seeing your product on a shelf but the biggest

success is seeing it sell. I also get a lot of pleasure

seeing a number of our team start as graduates and

develop and grow into bigger roles in the business,

as well as going on to do really interesting, cool jobs


Is there anything surprising about your work?

When you get to where we are now, and you walk

into a bar in London, I start to notice our popcorn

on the shelves which is cool but also quite a scary

feeling. We don’t necessarily supply them directly

because we’re working through a distributor, so we

don’t know where our products are always going to

be. It’s also cool seeing celebrities and people tweeting

and Instagramming about our popcorn. It keeps our

momentum going.

Do you have any advice to pass onto current

students at St Albans School?

Take advantage of all of the opportunities that school

and university have to offer. They will always help at

some point in life. People you meet may end up being

your customers in later life. Languages that you learn

may also be useful, especially when communicating

with customers and distributors overseas. Make use of

your connections. It’s not easy starting a business. From

the outside when you watch Dragons’ Den for example,

it can look very easy, but it’s tough work. You’ve got to

have a great, strong product and work really hard for it.

If all of your ideas come together and you’re lucky, you

can do really well and it’s the best career!

For more information about Joe & Seph’s Gourmet

Popcorn, visit



the Archivist

St Albans School dates back to 948AD and as such,

there is a wealth of historical records to look after in

our Museum. Our archives are extremely important in

providing evidence of activities and telling a story of

the institution and the individuals who are connected with it.

The archives also increase our understanding of culture and

beliefs of the time, both in education and in the city of

St Albans.

This ‘Ask the Archivist’ section will be a regular feature in

Versa and we encourage you to do just that, ask the Archivist!

If you have any questions about the history of the School or

would like to know about the records in the Museum, please

write to us and let us know. It can be anything from; ‘who

are the famous alumni of the School?’ to ‘what was the most

successful 1st XV rugby team at the School?’.

In this edition, we ask Archivist, Nigel WoodSmith, how

have we commemorated fallen OAs and do we have a

complete record of all OAs who went to war?

Alderman Major Nigel WoodSmith writes…

In 2012, HMC (the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’

Conference) asked schools what they intended to do to

commemorate the centenary of the First World War. We

had already been thinking about this since commemorating

the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the OTC

(Officers’ Training Corps), whose training programme had

been put forward in 1906 by St Albans, Uppingham and the

Imperial War College.

Paul Downey (OA 1977), a brilliant 15-year-old in 1974, had

started a project to obtain more detailed information about

the names on the two War Memorials in the Upper Yard. We

decided to find and publish a record of all those who served.

The first task was to make a list. Michael Hollins (OA 2012)

and Gareth Hughes (former parent) each produced a list of

over 400 boys who they thought had fought and the combined

list was the starting point.

The initial request to OAs for help in finding names

produced the remarkable and sad story of Arthur Skett which

we immortalised in two books: The Death of Arthur Skett and

The Life and Death of Arthur Skett (available on Amazon).

Also discovered were the names of three OAs who were

missing from the First World War Memorial; George Alfred

Scott, Leslie Harry Shrewsbury and Frank Walter Wilks. They

joined the 87 other Old Albanians on the Memorial, at the

time, to be remembered.

Soon we had collected over 1200 pages of information which

remains an archive. Current students, Ben Plumer and Ben

Craig, have been editing the pages down into seven volumes,

which are soon to be published as A Headmaster at War.

Extracts from the diary of Major E Montague Jones can be

read on our archives website

Montague Jones was the Headmaster of St Albans School

from 1902 to 1931. In 1914 he had gone to war, writing simply

to the Governors: “I have been called upon to serve with the 1st

Herts Regiment…in consequence I have been obliged to make

temporary arrangements for the carrying on of my work during

this period”.

Each year the School holds a Remembrance Service in the

Abbey at which OAs, especially servicemen and women,

are welcome to attend. The Service is followed by the Act of

Remembrance at the War Memorial, commemorating all

Old Albanians who made the ultimate sacrifice in defence

of freedom as a result of war, peace-keeping operations or

terrorist actions.

So what research is left to do? Well, Volume 7 is partially a

workbook – as Gareth Hughes and Michael Hollins will tell

you, the work never ends – we hope that some of you will find

the time to investigate some of the names we still have little

information about.

If any OAs are inclined to research the School’s history and

War records, please contact Archivist Nigel Woodsmith at for names of OAs

and tips on how to research.




It is with regret that the following deaths

are announced:

Ronald Francis Tarling (OA 1955)

Informed by Ronald’s sister, Mrs Wheeler,

that Francis died on 14th February 2017,

at home.

John Hulett (OA 1946)

Died 4th March 2017.

Richard James French

(OA 1947)

1931 – 2017

Obituary by daughter,

Gillian French

Richard (Dick) French attended St Albans

School on a scholarship between 1942

and 1947. After an enthusiastic start:

‘always cheerful and willing, but not

very good’ (Algebra, 1942), he settled

into a respectable School career earning

commendations for his sporting prowess

in rugby, shooting and swimming

and he left with a credit in his general


Selected for officer training during his

National Service, he afterwards embarked

on a period of travel and adventure in

a series of postings which took him

to Hong Kong, the Cocos Islands and

eventually to Indonesia, where he met his

wife Franceline. They lived first in Suffolk

before settling in the West Midlands

with their three children. Dick’s affable

character afforded him a steady career

in sales management and he devoted

his time to his family and his hobbies,

including sailing and camping. His great

love was for music: he played cornet,

guitar and ukulele, sang in a barbershop

quartet, sang in and conducted Male

Voice Choirs and was a member of the

local operatic society. He died on 8th

August 2017 after a short illness.

Philip Maxwell Eden

(OA 1952)

1934 – 2017

Obituary by son, Roland

Eden (OA 1981)

Dad attended St Albans School from

1947 to 1952. He was grateful to “Jumbo”

Jenkins his Maths Master, and his English

teacher who taught him the essence of

writing clearly. I remember one story of

dad placing a rotten fish behind a radiator.

In 1952 he joined the Navy where he

reached the rank of Sub Lieutenant. He

had an interest in languages which may

have contributed meeting his first wife

Barbara, a German Au Pair working in

Harpenden. He travelled to 52 countries

during his career at Shell and Barclays

where he became Assistant Director of

Technical Service advising on the viability

of energy related projects.

Philip was a Buddhist and wrote

articles for The Middle Way as well as

teaching and recording a number of

lectures. He became Vice President of

the Buddhist Society.

I recently found this caption on his

bookshelf: “Death is not a cessation of

life but the laying aside of one form of

existence and transition to another”.

William F. Harwood (OA 1947)

1929 – 2017

Obituary by the family

Born in 1929, William (Bill) Harwood

had an enjoyable childhood with

amateur dramatics and visits to the sea.

He attended the School from 1939 to

1947. He was a keen rugby player and,

influenced by his father’s love of music,

an accomplished pianist. His School

friends remember his playing of the

Chopin Polonaises.

Aged 19, he joined the Army and

developed practical skills, including car

mechanics, which became useful when he

toured Europe by motorbike.

He was always in love with water,

grabbing every opportunity to sail. He

bought a 25ft yacht “Nim” and frequently

set sail on the Crouch in Essex and the

Thames estuary.

He met Anne at a wedding in St Albans;

they were married in 1961 and had four

children: Melanie, Vanessa, Justin and

Melissa. After the divorce, he moved to

Ruislip and took lessons in ballroom

and square dancing to keep up with his

partner, Rita’s bronze and silver medals.

He was a good listener, and showed an

interest in people, with an open-minded

and non-judgemental disposition and,

above all, was a loving and caring dad and

grandfather; always wanting the best for

them. He was devoted to his partner, Rita.

He showed strength, love and humour

right up to his last days with us all.


Congratulations to the following

OAs who have recently tied the


Isabel Gilbert (née Currie), OA


My husband, James, and I got married

on the 17th December 2016 at the

Tower of London. We were honoured

to be able to use such a special

location which has been James’s

regimental home since 1685. It was

also the first place James took me

for dinner, when we both returned

from serving in Afghanistan in 2013.

After the service at the beautiful

little chapel, we had our reception at

Trinity House, just across Tower Hill.

Amongst our guests we had 10 OAs,

including Ed Roberts who kindly did a

reading during the service, and Maddy

Buckley and Katie Wade-Wright (née

Lilly) who were bridesmaids. We had

an incredible day, made even more

magical by the twinkling Christmas

trees everywhere! Since our wedding

and honeymoon, we have moved to

South West London and are currently

planning how to celebrate almost one

year as Mr and Mrs.

William Bestelink, OA 1967

After leaving St Albans School in

1967, I had four years at Hull (where

I studied History and Theology) and

two years at Cuddesdon College,

Oxford. In 1973, I was Ordained in

the Church of England in Cromer

Church, Norfolk and spent the whole

of my Ministry in the Diocese of

Norwich. I did two assistant curacies

and for 30 years held three positions,

most in rural parishes. I also became

Rural Dean, Rural Officer and a

Canon of Norwich Cathedral.

In 2009, I retired early and moved

to Cromer. I continue to take

Services and play the organ at several

Churches. My rural work continues

serving on a helpline. I also participate

in The Cromer Society and volunteer

at Felbrigg Hall, a local National Trust

property, where I met my wife, Genny.

We had a small family Wedding, as it

was the first for both of us, at Metton

Church near Cromer, and today we

continue to live in Cromer.




Support the future of the arts at St Albans School

The success of our Building Futures fundraising campaign has enabled the start of the refurbishment of

New Hall into a modern Centre for the Performing Arts. With Phase One of this project on schedule to

be completed by mid-April 2018, our fundraising endeavours continue apace to enable Phase Two of this

project to proceed.

Play your Part – a continuation of the Building Futures campaign – aims specifically to redevelop the

main and balcony floors of New Hall, and provide a 300 seat multi-use auditorium. The development plan

focusses on providing current and future students with the best possible opportunities available to unlock

their potential.

Play your part and help our students to be their very best

At St Albans School, we believe that the arts are vital to our vibrant community and bring out the

best in our students. The Centre for the Performing Arts will engage and inspire on a grand scale,

enabling students to thrive in an atmosphere that fosters creative expression and personal growth.

Students will be immeasurably enriched by a modern and innovative facility that impacts their

academic and student life.

How you can play your part

Fundraising target:

£1 million

For further information,

please contact the

Development Office or visit


Our fundraising target for Phase Two is £1 million. As part of the Play your Part campaign, we are

seeking gifts from donors who truly understand the great value of the arts to our School. Please help

play your part by making a gift to support our budding actors and musicians. A one-off donation,

or a transformational naming-gift, will enable us to achieve our vision to help each pupil flourish,

develop self-knowledge and self-confidence.

Take a leading role and play your part in supporting the future

of the arts at St Albans School.

t: 01727 515187 e:




We have recently expanded our range of OA merchandise. Why not pick up a stocking filler for the OA in your life?












If you would like to purchase any merchandise, please contact or call 01727 515187.

Alternatively, you can shop online at or complete the form below, and send to:

Development Office, St Albans School, Abbey Gateway, St Albans, AL3 4HB. International prices may vary.

[1] OA Umbrella

£22 (+ £11 UK p&p)

Lightweight storm proof umbrellas

featuring the School crest and

printed in OA colours.

[2] St Albans School Mug

£10 (+ £2 UK p&p)

Bone china mug with School

history on base.

[3] St Albans School Tea Towel

£5 (+ 50p UK p&p)

Featuring a list of School rules

from 1570.

[4] Born Not For Ourselves:

A History of St Albans School

£25 (+ £5 UK p&p)

A hardback book telling the story of

St Albans School through the years.





[5] St Albans School At War

£15 (+ £2.50 UK p&p)

A paperback book on collected

memories of pupils who experienced

a St Albans School education

during World War II.

[6] OA Socks

£7.50 (+ £2 UK p&p)

One size cotton socks in the official OA

colours. Suitable for men’s size 8-12.5

[7] St Albans School Tote Bag

£4 (+ £1 UK p&p)

Natural coloured tote bags with

the School crest. Fashionable

and handy for shopping.

[8] OA Silk Tie

£13.00 (+ £1 UK p&p)

100% silk tie in OA colours.





[9] St Albans School Hymn Books

£10 (+ £2 UK p&p)

School hymns throughout

the years.

[10] Inspiring Old Albanians

£12 (+ £2 UK p&p)

A paperback book which is a

miscellany of famous former

pupils and others associated with

St Albans School.

[11] St Albans School Notebook

£5 (+ £2 UK p&p)

High quality A5 notebook with a

black matte finish, pen hold, ribbon

bookmark and the School crest.





I enclose a cheque for £

payable to St Albans School Foundation


Please debit my: Visa/Delta MasterCard UK Maestro

Name on card

for £

Card Number



Expiry Date


/ Start Date /

(if applicable)

Issue No.

(if applicable)


Security code:





by John Meulkens

(OA 1935)


Notwithstanding the fact that I am very much

in my twilight years, it was once again

possible to pay a visit to my alma mater

last May and profit, as so often from its traditional

hospitality. With EasyJet to Luton, it’s a short 45

to 50-minute flight from Amsterdam Airport.

Comparing favourably with the taxi drive from my

home to the airport that, depending on the traffic,

might take twice as long.

The programme was again executed in grand style: Tea

at Woollams, a visit to the School Museum and drinks

at the Fighting Cocks with the following OAs who

so graciously came over to meet me; Roy and Merle

Bacon, Ian Jennings, Mitch Parker, Chris Harbour,

Geoffrey Dale and Robert Sharpe (all the way from the

South Coast!). Then, to top it off, we had dinner in the

Refectory with Headmaster Jonathan Gillespie and his

charming wife Caroline.

It was great to meet, for the first time, our OA President

Mike Hodge, who so interestingly told me that my

first Maths Master in 1929 “Pi” Walker was, in fact, his

grandfather; a severe and much respected teacher. All in

all, a truly delightful visit and again much appreciated

by my cousin-by-marriage who, incidentally joins me

on such expeditions, as it is not advisable to do it on

one’s own – especially at the airport.

Although life now is quiet and peaceful, there is

“never a dull moment”. Besides working incidentally

on an oil painting and reading a great deal in order to

increase my knowledge of the world’s history – music

is constantly an important element in my day-to-day

life. Hardly a day goes by without playing the piano.

In addition to this “homework”, I attend piano recitals

wherever possible.

As a result of these visits, I had the privilege of being

introduced to a Hungarian master pianist (who now

lives in Amsterdam) – Klára Würtz. Accepted as a

student at the prestigious Franz Liszt Academy at the

early age of 14, Klára went on to win a scholarship

to study under Sir András Schiff in England. She has

now performed over 200 concerts in countries such

as America, Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, Slovina

and Ireland. During our chat, after being told of my

advanced age she promptly said; “I’ll come and play at

your 100th birthday”. My immediate reply was; “you

promise?” and her answer was, “yes, I promise”.

Since then I have been present at several of her recitals

in nearby towns and I am happy to say that she has

become a very dear friend.

As I still had to wait a couple of years and everything

was very much in “the lap of the Gods”, I thought

it practical to organise the recital a year earlier, to

celebrate the start of my 100th centenary. The idea

was readily accepted and a Saturday afternoon in

November agreed. The organisational work involved

has kept me busy during many months. The result may

well be seen as a highlight in my long life.

During my May visit to the School, Jonathan Gillespie

told me about the plans for the New Hall development

– to make it into the Centre for Performing Arts,

complete with a purpose built Music Faculty. A project

that most certainly enhances the School’s already

impressive reputation. During our talks I suggested

that we might consider having pianist Klára Würtz

give a repeat performance of her November recital, as

and when the Centre is officially opened. In order to

discuss this matter, we have provisionally planned a

visit to St Albans in January.

Needless to say I will do my upmost to be present at

the concert.

“Although life now is quiet

and peaceful, there is

never a dull moment”



then & now…

by John Williams

(OA 1964)

The first Master of the Old

Albanian Lodge was Edward

Percy Debenham. He was born

at Ivy House in St Albans in 1858 and

educated at the School. He qualified as a

Solicitor in 1881 and following the death

of his father in 1883, joined the family

firm of Thompson & Debenhams of

London and St Albans. He was initiated

into Halsey Lodge No. 1479 in St Albans

in 1882 and was installed as Master in

1890. Debenham was a Clerk to the

Governors of St Albans School – at

the time still referred to as St Albans

Grammar School. After the ‘Great’

war, in the 1920s there were numerous

members of Freemason’s Lodges in St

Albans who had been educated at the

School. They established a committee

in 1925, with the aim of founding a new

Lodge in the Province of Hertfordshire,

the Old Albanian Lodge No 4999,

for the benefit of Old Boys, staff and

those connected with the School. The

Old Albanian Lodge was consecrated

at Freemason’s Hall on Saturday 19th

May 1928 by Bro. Charles E. Keyser,


Provincial Grand Master of the Masonic

Province of Hertfordshire.

For the remainder of 1928, Lodge

meetings were held by dispensation in

St Albans Town Hall. Afterwards, the

members and their guests dined at the

Red Lion Hotel. In early 1929 however,

the Lodge began meeting in the Old

Assembly room in the School’s Gateway,

but continued to dine in the Red Lion.

In the 12 months from October 1928

to 1929, no fewer than 14 candidates –

including the then Headmaster, Major

E. Montague Jones – were initiated into

the Lodge and with additional ‘joining’

members, the Lodge was on course

to becoming one of the foremost in

the Province.

Old Albanians who received a copy of

the ‘black book’ containing ‘Notes on St

Albans School’ at the start of their School

careers may recall that Sir Francis was

the son of Sir Nicolas Bacon, one of the

School’s early patrons and instrumental

in obtaining the ‘Wine Charter’ which

was later confirmed and extended by

Charters, granted by King James 1st.

King James had been initiated into the

Masonic Lodge of Scoon and Perth in

1601. Sir Francis, also a Freemason and

one of history’s finest philosophers,

played a large part in the development

of early Freemasonry. 20 years after his

death, in 1645 during the turmoil of

the civil war, Freemasons in London

established what was to become the

Royal Society. It was the world’s first

assembly of scientists and engineers

dedicated to understanding the wonders

created by the ‘Great Architect of the

Universe’. As continues in all Freemason’s

Lodges today, ‘all discourses on divinity

and state affairs’ is barred – i.e. there

shall be no discussion of religion

or politics!


The Lodge ‘year’ commenced at the

Installation meeting on 13th May, when

the outgoing Master of the Lodge, Alex

Bain-Stewart, installed the Master Elect,

Alistair Cooper (OA 1988) as the 90th

Master of the Lodge. The incoming

Master was initiated into Harrow St

Paul’s Lodge, and joined the OA Lodge

in 2010. He is now a successful property

developer and residential landlord. He

was proposed into the Old Albanian

Lodge by Colin Harris and Ian Parker

(who taught him economics at School).

Alistair was a St Albans councillor from

1997 to 2005, chairing the Planning

Committee from 2002 to 2004. He is a

charity volunteer for the local homeless

drop in centre, Centre 33 and is a keen

supporter of the RSPCA and other

animal charities.


The Lodge meets five times a year

and all those connected with the

School, including fathers of past or

present pupils are welcome to apply

for membership. Members of other

Lodges, be they OAs, parents, staff or

Governors, are encouraged to visit

the Lodge whenever they wish. The

Secretary or Assistant Secretary will

be delighted to hear from them.


Sports News


for Cox

by Peter Dredge (OA 1960)

Golfers are avid followers of the weather forecast, especially in

the locations where matches and events have been arranged.

Experience this season has shown that long range (over

a week) forecasts have been wildly inaccurate and even

an indication for a following day is generally unreliable.

Nevertheless, the fixtures this season have been played in

mostly dry conditions due to good fortune, although the

Secretary must be afforded some credit! The matches, as

always, were great fun with our opposition and over the

years we have established great camaraderie and friendships

on and off the course. Results were mixed with a good

victory over Mid-Herts GC, draws against Berkhamsted and

Haberdashers, and a single defeat against Old Cholmeleians,

the first loss to them for several years and, in a way, it was

good to see them return happily back to Highgate.

The OA Cup venue this year was Berkhamsted GC and John

Cox succeeded in retaining the trophy he won last year

at Sandy Lodge. A significant achievement by our lowest

handicap golfer, 4. Graham Tate was runner-up with three

players tied for third place, Mike Lamprell, John Cash and

Brian Hayden-Smith. John Saunders secured the Dockree

Tankard being the competition for the Antelopes.



Our Captain, Graham Tate, kindly organised an open day at

his home course, Dunstable Downs GC, and then proceeded

to win the Pop Rush trophy from runners-up John Saunders

and Peter Dredge.

At the time of writing this report, the annual away trip this

year will be to Lakeside Lodge, Huntingdon and full details

will follow in the next report.

All OAs are most welcome to attend any of our events.

I would be pleased to provide details and to include any

interested OAs on the mailing list. My email address is



by Maureen Harcourt

We have had a very successful season in the Watford and District Tennis League.

Our Men (Division 2) have come second, our Ladies (Division 3) have come first

and our Mixed Team (Division 4) have come second. This means all three teams

have gained promotion. Family sessions on Sunday mornings have gone well

throughout the season and have enjoyed good attendance. We have instigated a

new club session on Tuesday evenings for Ladies Team practice, ably lead by our

Club Coach Margie Edge. Margie is building up her coaching sessions and is

busy every day of the week delivering group and individual lessons. If anyone

is interested in booking some coaching sessions she can be contacted at

The Sue Barnes Memorial Tournament on Sunday 11th June was a delightful event

which was well attended and played in great spirit. Family and friends of Sue joined

in, in some cases having to dust cobwebs off rackets and digging deep for suitable

outfits! Nick Barnes officially “opened” the bench by cutting the ribbons – in OA

colours of course! As it was such a success we have decided that it should become

an annual event.

For the first time this year we are entering a Mixed Team into the East Herts

Autumn League and a Ladies Team into the Hertfordshire Senior Winter League.

We shall also continue to put a mixed side into the Datchworth Autumn League.



We continue to welcome new players to the Club so do contact either myself

( or Margie if you are interested in finding out more.





by Nick Jackson (OA 2005)

After several years of dormancy, OA Football has returned

and in a big way. After dipping their toes in a few competitive

Old Boys games earlier this year in a cup run that saw them

reach the quarter finals of The David Willcott Trophy. The

Old Albanian Football Club have now begun their crusade for

league silverware as they embark on their 2017/18 campaign

in Division Five of the Arthurian League.

The Arthurian League, an English association football league

for teams of independent school alumni, has existed since

1961 and currently consists of 57 teams representing 36

separate clubs. Driven by former students Alex Addison (OA

2005) and Nick Jackson (OA 2005), St Albans School is now

being represented by its alumni with a vision to field both

Second and Third XIs in future years.

The Club, featuring exclusively Old Albanians from the School,

has been proactive with their recruitment drive, leading to

talent being represented across decades of Old Boys.

‘’I felt a warm welcome joining and despite age differences,

the St Albans School unity that has been bred into all of us

still holds strong no matter of current careers or stages of life’’

– Bryn Edwards, OAFC member.

With an ever growing talent pool available, it is an excellent

opportunity to reconnect with old friends and establish new

ones through competitive sport. For all those interested in

finding out more or to receive the latest Club match reports

and latest updates please email

The Old Albanian Football Club are currently first in Division

Five of the Arthurian League.

Latest Results:


1 Old Albanians 8 4 2 2 18 18 0 14

2 Old Columbans 5 4 1 0 21 5 16 13

3 Old Brentwoods III 5 3 1 1 18 10 8 10

4 Old Brentwoods II 6 2 4 0 17 9 8 10

5 Old Cholmeleians II 5 1 1 3 11 14 -3 4

6 Old Foresters III 6 1 1 4 9 17 -8 4

7 Old Chigwellians III 7 0 2 5 8 29 -21 2


to fire

by Kate Barnes

Hampstead has always been a tough away fixture and the

match on 8th October was no different. We are slightly

feared in this League due to our strong reputation.

Hampstead had no reservations that beating us was the

only option by any means necessary!

Saints spent the first 20 minutes pinning Hampstead

in their own 22. The question was; who would score

first? To the Saints’ dismay, the home side prevailed. 5–0

Hampstead. Saints upped a gear, creating some good link

play between forwards and backs. Robertson crossed the

line and converted her own efforts, 7-5 Saints half-time.

The second half began at a fierce pace, until Saints lost

front-rower Cook to a broken fibula, causing a reshuffle,

leading to a loss in focus. Suddenly Saints started to chase

the game, making some uncharacteristic errors. The home

side capitalised on this scoring further tries to finish the

game 22-7 victors.

Two weeks later, Saints are taking on Lewes. An unknown

entity to the League and the team had no intention of

underestimating the newly promoted side.

Saints score the first try through rapid winger McKenna,

extras by Robertson, 7-0 Saints. It didn’t take long for

Lewes to respond, firing back after some slick hands,

producing a score 7-5 Saints. Both sides were producing

attacking rugby and strong defence, Saints had a player

in the bin but put on another score as King raced over

converted by Robertson, followed by another to make it

19-5 Saints. Just on half-time Lewes snatched a converted

score, 19-12 Saints.

Concentration after the break lapsed and Lewes scored

within five minutes to level. Players started to feel the

weight of extra work and Lewes scored another try and

conversion to lead 26-19. Knowing the end of the match

was approaching, Saints found some energy to score again

through McKenna, 26-24 Lewes. Despite several attempts,

Saints found no way through and were held up twice

over the line. The home side eventually cleared their line,

finding themselves in the Saints’ 22. Fast hands and using

the overlap, they scored in the corner. Final score 31-24.

Head Coach Brown said; “To come away with a bonus

point was a credit to the players. Given the personnel

changes, injuries being carried and positional switches,

I could not ask for more from each player. A couple of

better decisions could have swung the result, but that’s

history now”.


OA Rifle Club



new tricks

by Andrew Wilkie (OA 1965)


Well, we’re still here and in a low key understated

sort of way, flourishing. We hear from others

at Bisley that we are actually one of the better

off Old Boys’ organisations thanks largely to the School’s

continued support and the elevation of shooting to a School

sport. The even better news is that the new Maths building

includes a basement range and has been given the go ahead

by planners. There will of course be a disrupted period during

construction but the future is looking positive indeed.

Our Herts Rifle League winter season 2016/17 (Division 2,

Team 4) resulted in our finishing fourth (ex6), not bad for

such an unusually elevated division and it shows we held our

own against declared averages. Our final position belies some

very good scores; clearly the challenges of range closure put

the team on its mettle.

Martin Warr spent the season shooting for the Herts County

Rifle Team. Congratulations to him. With his current average

he should have another season of county shooting ahead in

2017/18. Keep up the good work. I’m not so sure my own

average will have the same result in Dorset but it looks like I

might get a go at the new NSRA County Veterans competition

seeing as I’m over sixty; ten years over!

Herts Rifle League summer season 2017 (Division 2, Team 4)

was a similar story but this time the damage was done in the

early rounds and we ended up in fifth place. Not too shabby

but could do better. Priscilla and John Simmons both had

success at the NSRA Bisley Open Meeting in August.

The annual Coles Trophy match against the School took place

on 30th June. The result was a close win for the School with

Macrae handicap scores of 400.076 to the school and 399.987

for the OAs. Congratulations to the School team.

Owen Simmons has dusted off his contacts list and called for

competitors for this year’s BSSRA 25-yard competition. If

you would like to take part then please let him know (contact

details at the front).

Our team for the winter 2017/18 (Division 2, Team 4 – again!)

season comprises:


Andrew Wilkie 97.0

Andrew Moore 93.4

Martin Warr 97.4

Nick Tubby 93.8

Kris Gruber


Full bore shooting kicked off on 1st April this year with a

practice shoot at 600yds. A week later we shot the short range

Q Match at 500 & 600yds, coming fifth out of six teams.

Not one of our better performances given the early practice

but shooting was disrupted by the delays getting target frames

in place and by painfully slow marking. More delays followed

during our match against the Old Lawrentians. This time we

came second as expected with 458.24 against 466.36.

The plan was to have a practice shoot at 1000yds before the

Long Range Q match at 900 and 1000yds. Yours truly duly

booked targets and then disappeared off to Australia for six

weeks. Well thanks to the electronic booking system the team

arrived at Bisley to find they were booked in at 1100yds.

We don’t have kit to shoot at this distance so after much

discussion they were offered an electronic target at 300yds

(See photo).

This summer Alun Lewis turned his wordsmithing talents

to shooting, updating the NRA Facebook page during the

Queen’s Final at Bisley. Tech savvy at 70, a new trick for an

old dog. I wonder can you get a tingle from a lekky bone? At

the time of writing we have just shot our last full bore event of

the season The Arnold Cup match. First presented in 1936 the

competition was balanced 32 to Alleynians and 31 to us with


three ties (66 matches). This year the match was shot 2 & 7 at

300 and 600yds. I am delighted to report that we won with a

score of 272.29 against 250.16 to the Alleynians.

Congratulations to all on levelling the overall total at 32 each

and completing a run of five successive wins for the Old

Albanians. The match was followed by our annual dinner in

the London Middlesex where we were hosts to the Alleynians

team and their partners.

Club kit is available for all disciplines so if any of you would

like to relive the excitement of corps camp or that first shoot

on the School range, the opportunity is there. The grey hair

count is still high and we need to keep working on reducing

it. So go on – you know you want to!


by Geoff Cannon

Notwithstanding our declining membership, we have

continued our activities visiting local rivers and lakes around

St Albans. Outings have been organised to Derbyshire,

fishing the River Wye for wild brown trout and some

members visited Galway, having degrees of success with trout

and salmon. Our long weekend in Norfolk was a great trip,

fishing the River Yare, a carp lake and a trout fishery nearby.

Lots more outings are planned for the future and we would

welcome any new members who wish to come along. If

you’re interested, please contact Geoff Cannon via the

details at the front of the magazine.



by Richard Morgan (OA 1979)

OACC has had another excellent season on the pitch this

summer with two promotions in our four sides. The 1st XI

was captained this year by Alex Goldstone and played its

third year in Division 1 of the Herts League after the two

successive promotion seasons of 2013 and 2014. Without

any star players or spectacular individual performances, a

really good all round team effort by a small and dedicated

squad of first-team players resulted in eight wins, two

draws and six losses in the campaign and a creditable sixth

place at the end of the season.

Our 2nd XI spent a long time at the top of Division 6A but

were pipped to the championship by London Colney in the

penultimate game of the season. They finished in second

place and were promoted to Div 5B for 2018. So that is two

promotions in three years for Ghulam Rasool’s team.

The 3rd XI, led by veteran Tariq Hassan, were allconquering

in Division 10A, winning all but one of their

league games, ending the season unbeaten and top of the

division by a very large margin. They are promoted up to

Div 9A next year. Another veteran and OA, Tom Preest

(OA 1988), hit his first century for the Club after 20 years of

trying, against Boxmoor on 27th May and promptly retired

hurt 100, not out!

We have successfully introduced a number of very

good players from our thriving Junior Section into the

senior teams over the last two or three years and that

continues this summer with 14 to 17-year olds playing and

contributing substantially in our 3rd and 4th XIs. This was

the case particularly in the 4ths, captained by Simon Bates

with great enthusiasm to third place in their division, just

missing out on promotion this year.

The Junior Section, led again with great vigour by Alison

Curran, had another good season with boys and girls from

age 5 up to 17 playing regularly on Sunday mornings and in

midweek and weekend matches from Under 9s upwards.


However, all is not wholly positive as the Club is currently

under-resourced financially and we are in need of more

people to commit to running and supporting the Club so

we can operate effectively in the Woollams environment;

new sponsors and added income for the Club are now

an urgent necessity; and we require admin support and

committee leadership going forwards.

We’re keen to hear from any readers who would like to

support the Club, either with donations, sponsorships,

becoming Vice-Presidents or indeed helping out off the

pitch, and of course from any people who’d like to play for

us, either regularly or occasionally. Please contact me at



Over the summer we conducted a survey of our alumni

in order to both understand the needs of OAs and to

improve the way we communicate with you. Here is a

snapshot of the results obtained which are helping to

shape our activities moving forward.





Ages ranging

from 18 – 99

You want

more casual

events and



51% 91%

of OAs received

some form of financial

support from

St Albans School

of OAs want to attend

events on the School site

CCF & Rugby most

popular School interests


154 OAs

offered some form of

educational support to

current pupils




You want Class

reunions at key

milestone years

about OAs, historic features and

career profiles in this publication





Wednesday 13th December

Carol Service

St Albans Abbey

Tickets are strictly first come, first served. OAs are welcome

to bring a guest and are warmly invited back to School after

the Service for some festive mulled wine and mince pies.

Friday 15th December

Recent Leavers’ Drinks

(Class of 2017)

The Peahen, St Albans

To celebrate finishing your first term at university, we are

inviting all recent leavers from the Class of 2017 to a get

together this Christmas holiday. Hot food will be provided

and your first drink is on us! (This event is exclusively for the

Class of 2017)

Thursday 1st February 2018

An Evening with… Chris Wilkinson OA

St Albans School Library

Chris Wilkinson (OA 1963), the founder of Wilkinson Eyre

and a world-leading architect, will be giving a lecture in the

Library. Pupils, OAs and parents welcome.

Saturday 3rd February

1st XI Hockey Team V Aldenham School

School Pavilion, Woollams

OAs are welcome to join us in the School Pavilion

to watch the 1st XI Hockey Team take on Aldenham.

The match starts at 13.45 and refreshments will be available.

Thursday 1st March

Durham Regional Dinner

Kings Lodge Inn

Open to all OAs (including Undergraduates, Postgraduates

and Graduates of Durham University) who live in Durham

and the surrounding areas. We are planning to host a meetup

in March at the Kings Lodge Inn, Durham. Please let

us know if you are provisionally interested in attending by

emailing Sarah Osborne on

Tickets for most of our events will be available to book

online via the OA section of the School website or by

telephone/post/email via the contact details below.

Development Office

Tel: 01727 515187


St Albans School, Abbey Gateway, St Albans, AL3 4HB


your data

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The General Data Protection Regulation will come into force in May

2018, extending the data rights of individuals. It requires us as an

organisation and a charity to update our data processing policies

and adopt appropriate and extensive measures to protect your

personal data.

Presently, we hold information on you as an OA on our database,

including your name, address, email and telephone number.

Depending on the extent to which you have been involved with the

School, we may also hold information on donations you have given,

Gift Aid declarations and possible correspondence we may have had.

It is important to note that we will never share your data with other

organisations or individuals. We are committed to respecting your

privacy and the GDPR will enhance our data policies, not replace them.

Currently, we contact individuals on our database with School

news, event invitations, fundraising campaigns and occasional

surveys. We have always given you the opportunity to opt-out of

these mailings. However, under the new regulations coming into

force, we may need you to opt-in to specific mailings and how you

receive them – giving us affirmative consent to use your data.

We will continue to keep you informed about the incoming

regulations and will be back in touch if action to opt-in is required.

We hope you enjoy hearing from us and being part of the Old

Albanian community.

If you have any questions about how we handle your data,

please do not hesitate to get in touch with the

Development Team at

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