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.
4 OA News A GRAND Design 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 www.channel4.com/programmes/ grand-designs ROOKIE 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”
5 SUCCESS 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! FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, ANDY JEFFERIES, DEBORAH MEADEN AND BEN MILLER 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: www.dockandbay.co.uk DOUBLE WORLD TITLE SUCCESS 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”