OA BOULDER BOUND
50 YEARS ON…PEN ARTHUR
AN EVENING OF JAZZ
Hawking’s Black Hole Entropy Formula
Upcoming Events 2
OA President’s Notes 3
OA News 4
OA Events 6
Pen Arthur 7
Featured OA: Jon Croker 8
Ask the Archivist 10
Mugwort by Richard Osmond 11
Professor Stephen Hawking 12
Building Futures 16
An Evening of Jazz 17
OA Lodge 18
Sports News 19
Your Data, Your Rights 23
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Friday 15th June 2018
Golden Jubilee Reunion (Classes of 1968 and 1975)
St Albans School / School Pavilion at the Woollam Playing Fields
OAs from the Classes of 1968 and 1975 are warmly invited to come back to School for
their Golden Jubilee celebration. On Friday 15th June, OAs are welcome to have coffee
with the Headmaster followed by a tour of the School and then to board coaches to
Woollams for a buffet lunch. The event is free of charge and a great opportunity to
reconnect with old School friends. We hope to see you there!
Saturday 7th July 2018
St Albans School / School Pavilion at the Woollam Playing Fields
OAs are warmly invited to this year’s Founders’ Day Service on Saturday 7th July. The
Gaudy Reunion is for OAs who left School between 2007 and 2017.
Founders’ Day will comprise of the Abbey Service at 10.45am (guests to be seated
by 10.30am), followed by a drinks reception. There will be a lunch served in the
Refectory for Gaudy guests, followed by a tour of the School. Weather permitting,
there will be sporting activities continuing throughout the afternoon at the Woollam
Playing Fields, where a lunchtime BBQ and cash bar will be available.
Tuesday 18th September 2018
Diamond Geezers (Class of 1965 Reunion)
St Albans School / School Pavilion at the Woollam Playing Fields
The Class of 1965 have enjoyed two very special reunions; one in celebration of 50
years since starting St Albans School and the other for 50 years since leaving. Due
to the popularity and high attendance of these events, it has been suggested that the
Class of 1965 hold one final School reunion, celebrating 60 years since first entering
the School. A ‘Diamond Geezers’ gathering!
The reunion, held on Tuesday 18th September, will include tours, lunch and an
evening gathering at a St Albans pub!
Friday 21st September 2018
St Albans School
The annual OA Dinner will be held on Friday 21st September at the School. The
informal dinner, open to all OAs, will start with (optional) tours of the School followed
by a delicious dinner in the Refectory. Tickets are just £15.00 for two courses and a
drink on arrival. There will also be a cash bar open on the night.
Tickets for OA events are available to book online via the OA section of the School website or
by telephone/post/email via the contact details below.
Tel: 01727 515187
St Albans School, Abbey Gateway, St Albans, AL3 4HB
OA PRESIDENT’S NOTES
First of all, I would like to compliment the Versa Editorial
Team on the production of the Autumn 2017 issue of
this publication. It is a magnificent piece of work –
congratulations and here’s to many more.
My notes go back to early September 2017 when I was
honoured to be invited to the School’s Prize Giving Ceremony
in the Abbey. There was a continual stream of pupils
winning all sorts of prizes over a wide range of educational
subjects. The OA Club donate an annual prize to the best
sportsman and sportswoman of the leaving Upper Sixth. The
winners in 2017 were Joe Riant and Kirstyn Warren – many
congratulations to them. I do recall winning a prize when I
was at School – it was for House Rugby. I think it was given to
me as Captain of Pemberton House and we got beaten (easily)
Also, in September we had the OA Dinner held at the School.
One of the Prefects, Lorenzo Razzano, had the misfortune to
find himself next to me. I did wonder what his thoughts were
when he saw the seating plan – sitting next to a crusty OA
President. We had a simply splendid evening and Lorenzo was
great company. It coincided with his 18th birthday so he was
easily persuaded to buy a bottle of wine when it was needed.
As it was, Lorenzo is a delightful young man and has his heart
set on the legal profession. I am sure he will do very well and
will be a credit to the School. It gave me great pleasure to
hand over a peppercorn to Jonathan Gillespie for the annual
rent of the OAs at Woollams. Such good value.
November saw a number of OAs and friends play in a Golf
Charity Day run by Jim Putterill (OA 1951) at Harpenden
Common Golf Club. Jim was raising much-needed funds for
the Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre in Bedford. One of Jim’s
sons has battled with MS for many years and always delivers a
very entertaining speech. The day raised £3,000 and was
We also had the OA Networking Drinks in London in
November. I was delighted to meet Andy Coughlin at this
event – Andy and I had not seen each other for probably
30 years. He is not my vintage – far from it. When I played
hockey at Harpenden (I was approaching 40), Andy was at
Roundwood School and probably about 16. He and some
of his other Schoolmates were playing 1st XI Men’s Hockey
in the East League. These lads had great skills but Men’s
Hockey was a brutal affair… Entertaining times as Andy and
I attended the annual School Remembrance Service on 10th
November in the Abbey and in front of the War Memorial
in Upper Yard. This year’s Service remembered the Battle
Mike Hodge (OA 1965), OA President
PETER KNAPP (LEFT) AND MIKE HODGE (OAs 1965)
of Passchendaele which began on 31st July 1917 and ended
on 10th November 1917, exactly 100 years ago on the date
of this Service. The Headmaster delivered a solemn and
poignant eulogy for those killed at the Battle. This year, the
Remembrance Day Service will commemorate the centenary
of the end of the First World War in 1918. It would be
especially appropriate to have a very good turn out of OAs at
the Service. The date will be Friday 9th November so please
mark your diaries now.
Moving on to December, we had the School Carol Service in
the Abbey. The singing and readings were of top quality and
we heard the carol ‘A Simple Truth’ performed beautifully
by the School Choir. This carol was written by Peter Knapp
(OA 1965) who is my vintage and, in fact, was our Best Man
way back in 1970. There can’t be many schools which are
fortunate enough to include a carol written by an alumnus –
and performed in a place as beautiful as the Abbey. It was a
Finally, I attended the Biennial General Inspection
of the School CCF in early March. Again, this was a
commemoration of the First World War and some of the
cadets were wearing appropriate uniform. The drill work
was of a very high quality and there were a number of
interesting stands to visit including WW1 medical and
As you will read later in this issue of Versa, all the various
Sports Clubs within the Old Albanian Club are in good heart.
The Rugby Club (1st XV) has had a challenging season but
they are in one of the top National Leagues. Minis, Juniors
and Colts continue to thrive and this bodes well for the future.
I am currently working hard with Chris Harbour in the
Development Office on the ‘Diamond Geezers’ reunion for
the lads of “my year” as it is 60 years – on 18th September
2018 – since we first walked through the School gates. Can
that really be so? Surely, there has been a mistake!
OA BOULDER BOUND
after joining Techstars Programme
ELLIOTT PERRY (LEFT) AND MATTHEW QUINN (OA 2007)
OA IS AWARDED
FLEX, the London-based tech start-up aiming to make fun,
invigorating workouts more accessible to everyone, is set to join the
globally renowned Techstars programme.
Together with his business partner Elliott Perry, Company Founder
Matthew Quinn (OA 2007) created a live-streamed interactive HIIT
workout business, which has been selected from among 1000s of
companies to join accelerator programme Techstars.
Quinn has recently made the move to Boulder, Colorado and joins
eight fellow tech start-ups in a bid to provide global scale and
Speaking to us about the move, Quinn said; “We are so excited
to be able to take the next steps in Flex’s journey with the team at
Techstars. Not only that, but Boulder, Colorado is one of the fittest
places on earth – what better place is there to spend three months
with a fitness company!
“The programme is going to give us unparalleled access to some of the most
successful entrepreneurs in existence who have collectively taken companies
from inception to public listings more times than you can count on one hand.”
Chris Whiteside (OA 1979), was awarded an MBE for political
and public service in the New Year’s Honours list. Chris is the
Conservative County Councillor for the Egremont North and
St Bees Division of Cumbria County Council.
Speaking about the award, Chris said; “I am humbled and
appreciative to have been awarded the MBE in this year’s New
Year’s Honours list. And very impressed that so many of my
friends picked up the fact so quickly!”
On behalf of the whole St Albans School community, we send
“Thank you to all of those who
have sent such kind messages
and Potato Peel
Mike Newell (OA 1960) is well-known for directing
films for the big-screen such as Harry Potter and
the Goblet of Fire and Four Weddings and a Funeral
(for which he won a BAFTA for ‘Best Film’ and ‘Best
Director’). Mike has been directing The Guernsey
Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which is an
adaptation of the best-selling book by Mary Ann
Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
The movie, which premiered in the UK on Friday 20th
April, stars Lily James and Michiel Huisman. Lily plays
Juliet Ashton, a writer who forms a connection with
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society when
she writes about the book club they formed during the
occupation of Guernsey in World War II. The impressive
cast includes many other recognisable faces; Matthew
Goode, Jessica Brown Findlay, Penelope Wilton, Glen
Powell, Katherine Parkinson and Tom Courtenay.
The official trailer is now available to watch on YouTube
We were very pleased to welcome Michael Pattison
(OA 1958) back to Woollams on Saturday 2nd December
2017, to watch the 1st XV take on Berkhamsted School.
Whilst the result didn’t quite go St Albans School’s way, it was
nevertheless a most enjoyable day, and a great opportunity
for Kyran Bracken (SAS Elite Sport Development Manager
and 1st XV Head Coach) to present Michael with his own
personalised St Albans School rugby shirt.
Michael’s business, International Labmate (international
publisher and events company in the laboratory equipment
world), has kindly sponsored the School’s first team shirts
for our main sports, and our students are delighted to be
benefiting from this support with a brand new kit.
Michael is a long-term supporter of the School’s Bursary
programme and we are most grateful to him for his continued
support of his alma mater.
WHAT IS ART?
On Friday 23rd February,
William (AKA Bill) Feaver
(OA 1961) returned
to School to deliver a
fascinating talk to our
Upper Sixth students titled,
‘What is art?’.
After graduating from Keble
College, Oxford, Bill held a
number of teaching posts
in County Durham and at
Newcastle Royal Grammar School and was later appointed the
Sir James Knott Fellow at Newcastle University.
As an art critic, Bill worked at the Financial Times, Listener,
Sunday Times Magazine and as Art Critic at The Observer
where in 1983 he was awarded ‘Critic of the Year’ UK Press
A BRAND NEW KIT
Bill inspired the pupils during his lecture and introduced
them to questions outside of the realms of their A level
courses. He challenged them to address the spectrum of
emotions portrayed within different styles of art, both good
After lunch, Bill was kind enough to review our A level Art
students’ coursework and provide them with advice and
Some OAs may remember Bill Feaver’s father who was the
Right Reverend Douglas Feaver, one time Canon of St Albans
Abbey and School Chaplain.
We are very grateful to Bill for giving up his time. If you
would like to learn more about Feaver’s career, his biography
is featured in Inspiring Old Albanians, available to purchase
from the Development Office.
LEFT TO RIGHT: KYRAN BRACKEN (SAS ELITE SPORT
DEVELOPMENT MANAGER AND 1ST XV HEAD COACH),
MICHAEL PATTISON (OA 1958), STEPHEN HEANEY (HEAD OF
SCHOOL), HELEN JONES (INTERNATIONAL LABMATE)
AND JONATHAN GILLESPIE (HEADMASTER).
6 OA Events
A big thank you to the OAs, staff and former staff who
attended the annual London Drinks Party at The East India
Club on Thursday 19th April. This event is always great fun
and an opportunity to catch up with old School friends and
network with OAs working in various professions.
It was lovely to see so many familiar and new faces at the
event. We hope you can join us again next year!
On Tuesday 20th March, we welcomed Christopher Morris
(OA 1956) back to his alma mater to deliver a captivating
lecture on his career in journalism. At the age of 15,
Christopher became a proofreader at The Luton News and
acquired a five-year apprenticeship as a news reporter. He
told the amusing story of his breakthrough into Fleet Street,
working at The Daily Sketch as their youngest reporter at age
20 (his application involving working as a clown’s assistant!).
Flash-forward to today and Morris’ career has taken him across
120 countries, reporting from 16 wars over 60 years.
Packed with anecdotes and video clips from his
interview with Nelson Mandela to a near escape with a
landmine, Morris captivated the audience of OAs, parents and
A big thank you to Christopher and his wife Mary for a
Our OA Regional Events are continuing apace. Last year,
we were in Nottingham and in 2016, Oxford, Salisbury
and New York. The ‘Beast from the East’ put a halt to
our original date for Durham’s event and as such, we
rearranged for Thursday 3rd May.
The King’s Lodge Inn played host in Durham where
many recent leavers and OAs enjoyed an informal get
together. We are always looking to host events around
the country to give OAs that live afar an opportunity
to reunite with friends. If you have any suggestions for
future venues, please do let us know!
We were delighted
to welcome Chris
Wilkinson (OA 1963)
and his wife Diana back
to School in January,
for a fascinating talk on
a selection of his many
and varied architectural
In front of a packed
audience in the Library,
Chris explained how
initial ideas, sketches and concepts are transformed
into architectural plans and then finished buildings.
From the Cooled Conservatories at Gardens by the
Bay in Singapore, to Oxford’s Weston Library and the
Guangzhou International Finance Center in China, a
detailed explanation behind these iconic projects made
for an extremely interesting evening, thoroughly enjoyed
by all of our guests.
Our grateful thanks to Chris and Diana for such an
informative and thought provoking event.
50 YEARS ON…
Pen Arthur: then and now
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first School trip to Pen Arthur, the School’s
residential Field Studies Centre. From humble beginnings to refurbished dormitories,
the site has not always been the relatively luxurious farmhouse we know today…
Whilst the acquisition of Pen Arthur did, indeed,
take place in 1967, it was not until the half term of
February 1968 that the first School trip was taken
there. Tony Cooper, former teacher at St Albans School, was
one of the Pen Arthur pioneers and in an article in the 1983
edition of The Albanian, he describes the moment that led up
to the acquisition of the site.
Tony writes; “…untold miseries on innumerable Duke of
Edinburgh Award camping expeditions, wreathed in mist on
Dartmoor, washed out nightly in the Lake District, eaten alive
in Scotland by enormous midges and locked out of Youth
Hostels by hostile wardens… it seemed to me that we needed
somewhere to call our own.”
1968 was a turning point for St Albans School; however, Pen
Arthur was far from perfect. It was evident that it was going
to take a lot of work to transform the farmhouse from a very
basic building to what it is today. Mike Highstead remembers
that from 1967, it was a few years of “frantic activity”. The whole
building needed renovating; a new roof was needed as was hot
water, gas, toilets etc. Mike recalls, "at the beginning the families
Cooper, Ruddock, Avery and Highstead spent most of their
holidays at the ramshackled building making it fit for purpose.
It was, however, a bonding experience...so often were we there
that our children began to think that it was their home.”
David Camplin (OA 1970) remembers being a member of
a group of pupils led to Pen Arthur by Tony Cooper, Mike
Highstead and Vince Lockwood in 1968. Camplin recalls
arriving at the cold, damp and derelict farmhouse where light
was sourced in the form of “…candles, hurricane lamps and
car batteries provided by Frank Kilvington, then Headmaster.”
However, it was accommodation, which ranked at that time
slightly above a tent in the middle of a field.
Now, a well-equipped Field Studies Centre, Pen Arthur is used
for many activities throughout the year. First Formers visit
annually, participating in a range of activities from canoeing
to hiking, while living in a simple, communal way.
Pen Arthur is also used as a base for both Silver and Gold
Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions, together with CCF
adventure training. During the summer holidays, the Cross
Country team spend a hard week at the farmhouse training
for the busy season ahead. Pen Arthur has also been used for
Creative Arts weekends and for study sessions in subjects as
diverse as Biology and English.
Much has been made of its former basic lifestyle and quirkiness,
with mouldy walls, and plants growing in the toilet cubicles,
not to mention the power cuts and running out of water, quite a
problem when you are two miles up a mountain track!
These fond memories are priceless and care was taken when
renovating and refurbishing the building to ensure the
character of the farmhouse was preserved.
Further refurbishment was carried out over the winter of
2011/2012 and Pen Arthur re-opened in March 2012, with
three dormitories and much improved single accommodation.
The roof of the entrance from the lounge to the dining room
was also raised, saving a lot of sore heads!
Pen Arthur today is not too dissimilar to the old place, albeit
running more efficiently. It continues to provide a unique
setting from which pupils can explore, learn, team build and
create memories that will last for many years to come.
8 Featured OA
a screenwriter’s perspective
Whilst you were at the School did you know what work you
wanted to go into?
Absolutely. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved
cinema and I spent a long time boring my friends talking
about it. One year, I ran a sweepstake for the Oscars, which
could have got me into a lot of trouble. To make matters worse,
I won the stake and beat all of my friends who thought the
whole thing was rigged! I’ve always wanted to work in films,
not necessarily knowing I was a writer – my interest in writing
became apparent when I started reading more.
We heard that you worked on Harry Potter?
Yes, I did. When I was at Cambridge University, I saw an
internship advertised at Heyday Films. I had no idea who they
were but I was revising for my finals and decided to spend
a day doing the application instead. It turned out they were
the production company for Harry Potter. I worked there for
a month and then the head of the company, David Heyman,
got me a job on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as
a runner. This is a low and menial job so I’d be photocopying
things and distributing them to the crew and making cups of
tea. After a year I managed to get a job as Mike Newell’s (OA
1960) Personal Assistant, working on the fourth film in the
franchise, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
That’s a coincidence!
From Oscar sweepstakes and writing Harry Potter spells, to acclaimed success
as a screenwriter, former Head of School, Jon Croker (OA 1999), talks to us
about life at St Albans School and his career path through film and TV.
Yes it is. I’d like to tell myself I got the job because of my
“One time I met the
head of the UK armed
forces and another
time I performed
a script meeting
completely naked in
a thermal bath!”
skills and charm but I’m sure the OA link helped. He didn’t
know who I was but we had both grown up in similar
circumstances and loved drama. I worked with him for
two years on Harry Potter which was a great experience.
Whenever Mike had friends visiting, I would take them
around the sets. Which reminds me; I got the opportunity
to write a spell for the fourth film, which was exciting. Mike
rang me and said, “we need a word for this spell. You’ve got
five minutes” so I came up with “Periculum”.
What else did you do after leaving Cambridge?
I wrote and directed my own feature film (some of it filmed at
the Woollam Playing Fields), which starred Drama Teacher,
Danny Swanson. The film definitely helped me get noticed!
So, when you were at the School were there any teachers
that were particularly memorable or influential?
My Drama teachers were the most influential, and the ethos of
the department was very inspiring. There was this idea that no
play was too sacred or too ambitious to try. If you wanted to
do Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part One, with a bunch of 14-yearold
boys then it was fine. It wouldn’t necessarily be very good
but we got to try it and we learnt from it. We were taught how
to create stories all the time and fail, but that’s how you learn,
and whatever the role you had in the play, you were expected
to chip in and set up the production. It was a very free and
My English teachers were also influential. Particularly Alistair
Jolly and Viv Graveson. They all helped give me a passion for
books and the written word. To be honest, I never really read
much before, but they had an uncanny knack for making books
sound interesting. I wanted to read, discover, argue and think
about books. I also wrote for The Albanian with Noel Cassidy.
I studied Ancient History for A-Level and there were only two
of us in the class. It was very much like a university education,
both teachers – Hilary Swain and Mark Davies – were great
and Hilary and I often cast our own epic movies.
Was there anything during your School experience that you
think was particularly valuable?
Yes, I was Head of School during my last year and that helped
me figure out how to be organised and disciplined. I worked
with my peers and grew in confidence when speaking to
people of different ages. This was really helpful when going
into the real world. There are lots of times that I have to, as a
writer, pitch to people who are far more experienced than I
am and I have to meet them on level ground. You need a lot of
confidence for that and need to hide your nerves.
What other projects have you worked on?
I became a Script Editor for a government agency called the UK
Film Council, which is basically reading other people’s scripts
and telling them how to improve them. I worked on such films
as The King’s Speech and Attack The Block. I then left to write
The Women in Black sequel The Angel of Death, the Desert
Dancer and the two Paddington films. It’s complicated because
I’m not credited as the writer or co-writer on Paddington,
but part of being a screenwriter means you are sometimes
uncredited as you’re not necessarily one of the main writers.
Paddington got great reviews and many of my son’s friends’
parents tell me that they can “cope with watching that film over
and over again”.
“…we need a word for this spell.
You’ve got five minutes, so I came
up with ‘Periculum’.”
Do you suffer from writer’s block and how do you
Yes and to be honest, I don’t know. Sometimes I get stuck and
often find myself thinking about another part of the script
or watching another film to get inspiration. As many in the
industry say, “screen plays are not written, they’re written
and rewritten and rewritten”. Sometimes, I write well over 20
drafts. If I’m stuck I try something else and rewrite it later.
I build it up layer by layer. The first draft doesn’t have to be
perfect, and isn’t always the film which gets made. Filmmaking,
unlike writing novels, is such a collaborative process
and I can share a script with managers, agents, producers,
directors, and sometimes actors. If I need some help, I will try
talking to the director for an hour and try ideas out.
What have been your biggest challenges to date?
Writing something good is hard and writing something that
will be made is really, really hard. There are good pieces that
have very low chances of being made because there isn’t a
movie star or director attached.
Also, in Hollywood, you have to formally pitch a job. In
England it’s much easier and you can just have a cup of tea
and a chat with someone, whereas in America, you have 20
minutes to tell a story and act it out in front of, sometimes, up
to 20 people that are powerful or famous. This can be quite
daunting. The hardest thing is putting lots of work in and not
getting the job.
What would you say your biggest success is?
Probably the Paddington films. Even though I wasn’t credited,
they have been commercially and critically a huge success. But I
always like to think that my biggest success is around the corner
and I have to keep going and try to find the next big thing. The
weird thing about screen writing is, by the time I’ve written a
screen play I put it to one side and forget about it, but there is
a strange delay and all of a sudden I realise I wrote it a year ago
and it’s now being made into a film. Which makes me think my
biggest success could be round the corner.
Is there anything surprising about your work?
Yes, that’s one of the things that attracted me to the job. On
a professional level you might think a film is never going to
happen, but then it comes back to life or suddenly an actor
reads it and likes it. Every project is about something different
and every story takes you to different places and allows you
to meet different people, even if they’re not true stories. For
example, one time I met the head of the UK armed forces and
another time I performed a script meeting completely naked
in a thermal bath!
Do you have any advice to pass onto current students of St
Pursue what you’re passionate about. You’re very lucky and
privileged to be at such a School so make the most of the
resources and facilities – the School can help you towards what
you want to do in life. New Place opened up after I left and I’m
feeling offended that so many things are developing now!
You can read more on Jon’s current projects at
ON THE HARRY POTTER SET AT WARNER BROS. STUDIOS
1890 – CHARLES WOOLLAM
Every year, the Headmaster addresses his Founders’ Day
audience with a lengthy list of those people who have
been responsible for the School’s development since its
founding over one thousand years ago. In this edition, we ask
the Archivist, Nigel WoodSmith, to tell us more about some
of the School’s greatest historical benefactors.
Alderman Major Nigel WoodSmith writes…
“We give Thee humble and hearty thanks, most merciful Father,
for our Founders, Masters, and our other Benefactors through
whose bounty and care we derive the blessing of a religious
education and most useful learning…”
At one time I could recite a goodly proportion of the School
Prayer and Frank Kilvington’s elegant Commemoration of
Benefactors from memory. The School Prayer was said every
main School Assembly by a Third Form boy selected by the
Head of School. During this period, the Commemoration of
Benefactors was unchanging with a particular focus on the
Elizabethan benefactors, which Frank Kilvington favoured.
Andrew Grant used more recent research to return the School
to its medieval roots, whilst at the same time bringing the
Commemoration of Benefactors up-to-date with some of the
truly great modern Benefactors.
If we only consider ‘great historical benefactors’ the obvious ones
to start with are the Kings and Queens. Some consider King Offa
to be the founding benefactor of the School when he founded
St Albans Abbey in 795. However, Offa of Mercia (757-796)
founded St Albans School International when he visited Pope
Adrian I in Rome. ‘Peter’s Pence’ provided an income for the
School for hundreds of years! But a more certain date for the
School’s foundation is 948, in the reign of Eadred, when Ulsinus
founded a Benedictine Monastery.
Matthew Paris (OA 1217), the Great Abbey Chronicler, dates the
Foundation of the School back to 1027 and the reign of Cnut the
Great. By the next century when Geoffrey de Gorham became
Abbot (1119-1146), the School was one of the largest and most
prestigious in Europe. He moved it out of the Abbey to its own
property on the site of New Place on the understanding that
the ‘poor students’ of the town would be educated for free in
perpetuity. Consequently, St Albans went from being a Monastic
School to a Secular School. This arrangement continued up to the
Reformation with the day-to-day running expenses of the School
being paid out of the Abbey endowments. Thus, all Abbots should
be considered School benefactors.
Quite a few of the ‘Great and the Good’ of the Country gave
property and land as well as books to the Abbey for the benefit
of the School. Books in medieval times were far more significant
gifts than they would be considered today and the School’s
Collection was the envy of a number of Oxbridge halls by the end
of the fifteenth century!
In the run up to the Reformation, Henry VIII and Cardinal
Wolsey had decided that St Albans and Westminster should
become the schools to educate the clerks necessary to run the
country after the abolition of the Monasteries, but this never
happened. That the School survived was due to Abbot Bourman
who ensured that the Master received two years’ salary as he
moved the School to St Peter’s.
This was a period of discontinuity in the education of the country
but Abbot Bourman in the disguise of Richard Bourman, Clerk of
London, was determined that St Albans School would continue.
He persuaded Edward VI to give another two years’ salary to
the Master and he had an Act of Parliament passed in 1548
with remarkably enlightened terms of governance, including
free tuition for poor students. When Bourman died in 1558, Sir
Nicholas Bacon was the executor of Bourman’s will and continued
with the School’s transfer to the Lady Chapel. Bacon also arranged
a source of income to replace that of the Abbey and Bourman.
The Wine Licenses of Elizabeth I, confirmed by James I and
Charles I, provided an income for the School for over 300 years.
In the late nineteenth century, as Charles Woollam’s wealth
increased, he and his wife became major benefactors of the
School. He died during WWI at the end of which according to
1066 and All That:
“… History came to a . ”
Do you have a question for Archivist Nigel WoodSmith? Send
it in to firstname.lastname@example.org for the chance to
feature in the next issue of Versa.
by Richard Osmond
Today, commuting down
the A13, I saw
a spike of mugwort
with blue-green leaves
with silver undersides
and a brick-red stem
growing out of the top
of a highly visible
relative of wormwood,
first named of the nine
herbs in The Nine Herbs Charm
and greatest among them:
known as una, prime,
herb of herbs: symbolic
of symbology itself
and meaning the capacity
of herbs to mean.)
At thirteen, allowed
to go into town alone,
we hung out around
another traffic cone
in a walled garden
we were forbidden to enter
and did nothing. Or rather
we observed the tradition
that luminous signs removed
from their intended hazard
will congregate in waste ground,
borderlands, out of bounds,
wherever people loiter
and do nothing.
There is an age at which
every boy discovers
the potential of a can
of Lynx Africa
to make the Holy fire.
This was that age.
Someone whose name
I’ve forgotten sprayed
a whole can down
and-thumb sized hole
in the top of the cone
and lit the air above it.
To say I saw a phoenix,
or the gushing well
of Saint Alban, in whose
footsteps grew miraculous
flowers and from the ground
beneath each bounce
of whose decapitated head
flowed baptismal waters,
or a fiery premonition
of the unexpected
motorway mugwort plant
I saw today, bursting
like a bouquet from a wand,
would be to co-opt
other traffic cones
better left at their
respective accidents. Suffice
to say it meant something
to us then in that place
where we claimed most loudly
and often that nothing
would ever mean anything.
Special thanks goes to Picador (part of Pan Macmillan), for granting us permission
to share this poem from Richard Osmond’s book Useful Verses
ILLUSTRATION – CHARLES I
VISIT TO SCHOOL 1626
ILLUSTRATION – ELIZABETH I
WINE CHARTER 1570
MATTHEW PARIS 1217
ILLUSTRATION – FOUNDING
OF SCHOOL 948
ILLUSTRATION – PURCHASE
OF LADY CHAPEL 1551
PROFESSOR STEPHEN HAWKING,
CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA
(OA 1959) 1942 – 2018
One of the brightest stars in the Old Albanian firmament has been extinguished. Yet Professor Hawking’s
legacy will live on in the daily life of his alma mater, inspiring pupils to be inquisitive and reflective and to
emulate his example of courage and resilience.
Jonathan Gillespie, Headmaster
Thank you to everyone who sent in messages for the Stephen Hawking book of condolences.
Here are a small selection of messages submitted by OAs…
One lesson from Stephen’s life that
may be worth sharing with the
School is that he was a great example
of how creativity can excel under
Motor neurone disease meant he
could not hammer through long
and intricate calculations. He
concentrated on framing simple, but
Put another way: Any fool can make
something long and complicated, it
takes genius to keep it simple.
Sic transit mens maxima ex
Nick Corfield (OA 1977)
Whilst I did not know him
personally, he did marry the sister of
one of my best friends from School.
Alongside his prodigious intellect
was to be found a certain endearing
impishness – from not wearing his
School cap when he should have
done, to claiming that he was not
only smarter than Stephen Fry, but
better looking too! His achievements
are phenomenal, considering his
physical disadvantages (which he
said freed him up to do what he did
best). He should be honoured by
having the brightest star in
the Universe named
“This message is in fond remembrance
of Stephen who was a year ahead of
me at School and Oxford. We studied
Physics under the same teachers and
as I approached my Finals at Oxford
he kindly gave me guidance in return
for occasional pints of beer. It was a
privilege to have known this uniquely
distinguished Old Albanian.
Sir Martin Smith (OA 1960)
Goodbye Stephen. It was a privilege
to have known you, however
It was with great sadness that I
learned of the death of Stephen
Hawking. Although I was a fellow
pupil at St Albans School, his being in
a class four years ahead of me meant I
never actually met him....
What an inspiration, and how
wonderful that he could continue to
cast light for 55 years longer than was
And what a great guy he seemed –
never pompous, always imbued
with humanity and humour.
Rod Argent (OA 1963)
Stephen helped to shape my
worldview and provide clarity on
the fundamental questions of life.
His accomplishments and repeated
defiance of the status quo has
always inspired me. Where I can, I
hope to emulate him. Despite the
seemingly unguided nature of the
very universe he helped to uncover,
one is left to reconcile how his life
could have coincided precisely
with the birth and death of two
other world-renowned physicists.
A quirk of irony perhaps but
incredibly befitting as a symbolic
St Albans’ little cosmos has lost its
parting gesture of a world-changing
supernova, but your renown will
personality and immense intellect.
suffuse your old School in
May he rest in peace.
Hawking radiation to infinity.
Stephen Eames (OA 1966) Andrew Grant (Headmaster 1993 – 2014)
Adam Wagenfield (OA 2008)
Full-length obituaries can be found in the online version of Versa.
It is with regret that the following deaths are recorded:
Wilson (OA 1945)
1927 – 2017
Written by daughter,
John was born in 1927
and was at St Albans
School from 1938 to 1945.
He valued his School days,
gaining colours in rugby
and athletics, and acting
as a School Prefect.
He won a place to complete a university short course in
science at Lincoln College, Oxford, at the same time as
training in the army. In 1947, he was commissioned in the
Royal Artillery and sent to post-war Germany.
After Germany, he was able to complete his studies in
Chemistry at Lincoln College. At Oxford, John met his wife
of over 60 years, Pat, who was training to be an occupational
therapist at Dorset House. After leaving Oxford, he took a job
with ICI in Manchester, where he made his lifelong career in
marketing, and settled in Cheshire.
John and Pat later moved to London where John wrote two
books, on exporting and importing, and chaired the body
which set Industry Standards for Languages at work. He was
made a Freeman of the City of London.
John celebrated his 90th birthday at the end of summer 2017,
where friends from his School days joined him, and shared
many reminiscences from these times.
Martin Piers Nicholson (OA 1973)
1954 – 2017
Written by widow, Claire Nicholson
Martin followed his
brother Stephen on
a scholarship to St
Albans School. His
Christmas 1967 Science
report of “idle” and
report of “Moderate
but not more” always
amused him but he
did improve. After his
Science A-Levels, he studied Food Science at Nottingham
University where he met his wife Claire. They married in 1977
and had two daughters.
Martin worked for United Biscuits for three years, in Product
Development, and then moved to the Somerset College of
Agriculture and Horticulture to lecture in Food Technology,
and later in Information Technology. In 1990, the family
moved to Daventry, Northamptonshire, and he concluded
his teaching career at Guilsborough School as a Sixth Form
specialist ICT teacher. He was a college and school governor
for over 30 years.
A passion for computing helped his lifelong interests in
astronomy and philately. After retiring in 2008, he and
Claire enjoyed visiting many hundreds of churches to
create an archive of gravestone photographs at
Martin died suddenly at home near Church Stretton on 23rd
September 2017, aged 62.
Graeme Lovell Buckingham (OA 1954)
1936 – 2017
Written by brother, Neil Buckingham (OA 1956)
Graeme attended St Albans School from 1946 to 1954. He
was awarded a State Scholarship in 1953, the credit for
which he always put down to the inspiring teaching of the
former Senior English Master, Mr J McLellan. He then spent
three enjoyable years at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge,
reading English and taking part in as much cricket and
amateur dramatics as possible. Graeme’s business career was
entirely in the field of Personnel Management and he met his
wife, Jo, while on an early placement with ICI. They married
in 1960 and had three children, Neil, Marcus and Pippa, of
whom he was rightly proud.
In 1985, after board positions with Gallaghers and Allied
Breweries, he joined The Gallup Organisation, which he
helped to develop both in the UK and Europe. Graeme was
forthright, generous and a great dad and always stimulating
company. In later years increasing ill-health kept him homebound.
He died peacefully at home on 1st November, having
borne his long illness with typical fortitude.
Ian Richard Bassham
1947 – 2017
Written by sister,
Sue Petty (née Bassham)
Born in Norwich, Ian attended St
Albans School from 1958, when
the family moved to St Albans,
until 1965 when he went to
Leicester University, gaining a BA
in Social Sciences and Economics.
He represented the School in athletics on several occasions;
was awarded School athletics’ colours twice and in 1965
became Captain of Athletics. A member of the School
Corps, he achieved the rank of L/Sgt and was an enthusiastic
member of the Corps of Drums. A keen gardener, he supplied
fresh produce to his family from his garden and allotment
and also tended the grounds of the village school in Weston,
Herts, where he lived for over 25 years. Scouting was a
lifelong passion from joining the cub scouts as a boy to over
50 years as a Scout Leader in both St Albans and Weston,
where he founded a village Scout Group.
A patient, reliable and loving individual, he remained calm in
difficult situations and would quietly help anyone he could.
He is greatly missed by his wife, Janet, sons, Rob and Ben and
sisters, Sue and Marian.
L.J. (John) Holt
1934 – 2017
Written by daughter, Carol
Matthews (née Holt)
and Roger Nash (OA 1959)
John attended the School from
1946 to 1951; a fine sportsman
who shone at both cricket and rugby. He captained the
OA rugby XV in the early 1960s, and played, at prop, for
Hertfordshire for two seasons. At cricket, he was an aggressive
early order batsman, with a strong ‘arm’, who played regularly
for St Albans, and occasionally for the OAs.
In his early twenties, after completing National Service,
he took a ‘ten pound ticket’ to Australia. On his return to
England he married and immediately sailed for New Zealand
where he worked as a farm hand before returning to the UK,
with two young daughters, Carol and Amanda, in tow. John
purchased a small farm in Devon and they had their third
child, Justin. Homesick for the wide-open spaces, in 1972
they once again boarded a ship bound for the Antipodes. He
bought a 7,000-acre farm in the Wairau Valley, at the top of
the South Island, breeding sheep and his world famous herd
of South Devon cattle.
John died of cancer on the 11th December 2017 at home on
his beloved farm in New Zealand, his family beside him. He is
survived by his three children and five grandchildren: Nicole,
Kayne, Brock, Breanna and Tarn, whom he adored.
Neil Buick (Former
1957 – 2018
Written by Michael Readman,
David McCord, Mick Stout
and Grayson Jones
Neil Buick, who taught piano
and keyboard in the Music
Department for 17 years until
a few years ago, passed away in
February at the age of 61. As well as teaching piano he taught
class music and accompanied the School Choir and pupil
examinations. He had a unique skill and was a highly talented
musician. Neil was the Accompanist in Residence at the
School, and a carol he composed was performed at the School
Carol Service in 2005. The staff in the Music Department
remember him fondly for his impeccable musicianship and
support that he gave them, recognising that he was such an
important figure in the musical life of St Albans, from which
he will be sadly missed. Neil graduated from the RSAMD
in Glasgow, and was an accompanist and MD for St Albans
Chamber Opera and the Operatic Society. He played in
many concerts including a wonderful performance of the
Shostakovich second piano concerto.
1943 – 2018
Written by Stephen Eames
Neil was born in 1943 and was
just 74 when he succumbed to
cancer, a wretched disease from which he appeared to have
recovered before an unwelcome relapse. From the time of
his original diagnosis, he dealt with the likely outcome with
stoicism, pragmatism and courage.
He commenced, but did not pursue, a career in law, before,
eventually, becoming the Landlord of The Rose and Crown
PH in Ridgmont, Bedfordshire. He played rugby for the Old
Albanian RFC, with enthusiasm, and had an unquenchable zest
for life. He held parties which were legendary and, in equal
measure, many regret accepting, and others not receiving, an
invitation to attend. He was a stalwart of the OAs and a great
friend of St Albans School. He enjoyed a good jape. Chris
Goddard (OA 1962) speaks for all who knew him well: “He was
a lovely man and will be sorely missed”.
Congratulations to one
of our OAs who recently
announced a new addition
to the family!
Congratulations to the following OAs who have recently tied the knot!
James Cranston and Kate Verghese (OAs 2004)
Written by James Cranston and Kate Verghese
James and Kate got married on 23 September 2017 at Villa Mosconi,
Verona. The couple met at School and in their final year, James and Kate
were Head and Deputy Head of School respectively.
On leaving School, Kate studied English literature at UCL. Kate was
then selected onto the prestigious BBC production trainee scheme and,
following this, quickly rose through the ranks of BBC Drama, becoming
Holby City’s Story Producer. She is now a screenwriter and in addition
to having written for primetime TV shows, she is writing numerous
exciting new projects including an original series with the BBC and a
show for HBO. After School, James studied History at the University
of Nottingham before completing a law conversion. He trained as a
solicitor with Clifford Chance LLP where he is now a Senior Associate
in the Litigation, Arbitration and Regulatory department. He works on a
wide range of matters, with a particular focus on sports industry clients.
James and Kate currently live in London where they remain friends
with a number of their peers from School, a number of whom attended
David Buxton (OA 1963)
Written by David Buxton
The marriage of David to Susan (née Tilney) took place at St Albans
Registry Office on Saturday 17 February 2018.
This was a bit of an OA merger as David is the son of Raymond Buxton
(OA 1928) past OARFC, OARPC and OAC President and Susan is the
daughter of his friend Henry (Harry) Harvey (OA 1932), past OACC,
OARFC and OAC President. David has been in export most of his
working life and is a member of the rifle and rugby clubs. He is also the
Secretary of the OA Club. When Sue wasn’t supporting her father or
brother on the touchline, she was a Care Manager. Both are now retired
and living a graceful but busy life in St Albans.
Laura Wheeler (OA 2000)
Written by Laura Wheeler
Ottilie Lucas was born on 21st
September 2017 to my partner, John
Lucas, and I. After leaving St Albans
School, I graduated from LSE in
2003 with a BSc in Philosophy and
Economics. I’ve worked in finance since
then (currently at Capital Group) and I
am also a volunteer psychotherapist at
RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic
Art). We currently live in south London.
FUTURE OF THE ARTS
Thanks to the generous support of OAs, current and former
parents, and friends of the School, we have achieved our initial
fundraising target of £600,000 for Phase One of the Centre for the
Performing Arts. Our fundraising endeavours now continue apace
to raise £1 million to enable Phase Two of the project to proceed.
The Drama and Music departments have grown
exponentially, but New Hall can no longer
accommodate this growing demand nor the
complexity of the productions the School wishes
to put on. With your help, our aim is to redevelop
the main and balcony floors of New Hall, and
provide a 300 seat multi-use auditorium for
students and their families to enjoy. To complete
this project and to ensure that the Centre for
the Performing Arts is further enhanced by its
setting, we plan to refurbish Middle Yard with
My love of theatre and acting began during my years at
St Albans School, and that passion has stayed with me
throughout my career as a Theatre Director. The School has
always been superb at nurturing talent. To continue this vital
endeavour, an inspiring and versatile space is needed, where
creativity and excellence can be fostered at a new level.
I would love to see a new performance space where the next
wave of actors, directors and musicians can discover their voice.
The world stage needs new players and I fully endorse this
exciting new project.
Simon Godwin (OA 1994)
National Theatre Associate Director
Tel: 01727 515187
For further information about the Centre for the Performing Arts
and the different naming opportunities available, please visit;
AN EVENING OF JAZZ
Raising money for
Hope and Homes for Children
“Standing, squashed in a South-
Western railway commuter train
carriage at 6.50am one cold
October morning, listening to Gregory
Porter’s dulcet tones, I realised that
I was mouthing along and thought,
‘when was the last time I performed
jazz?’ And I realised
I couldn’t remember…”
Becca Sandler (OA 2014),
Event Organiser and Performer
This is where the Hope and Homes for Children Charity
Jazz Evening idea met its inception. Having recently
graduated from Royal Holloway with a BA in Drama
and Theatre studies, Becca decided to organise a cabaret-style
evening of smooth jazz, canapés and wine for her friends,
family and the public.
On Saturday 6th January, a group of OAs came together in the
School Library and raised money for their chosen children’s
charity, Hope and Homes for Children – which specialise in
improving life for adopted and orphaned children. Having
been introduced to the charity by her mum (who is an active
fundraiser for them), Becca decided to get involved and create
an enjoyable night with her old School friends.
Becca teamed up with former Head of School, Joe Zacaroli
(OA 2014), Mitchell Zhangazha (OA 2013), James Lear (OA
2017) and Phil Craig (Music Teacher) on the drums, with
guest bassist Tom O’Connor.
The evening consisted of jazz classics from Sinatra to
Fitzgerald via Motown and Jamie Cullum, all supported by
Joe’s superb jazz piano playing, Tom’s effortless rhythm on
the bass and Phil’s unmistakable drumming. The evening
also included an informative and moving talk from Leonie
Macauley, the Community Partnership Manager from Hope
and Homes for Children. The night was a great success, filling
the Library to capacity and raising just over £1,800.
All four of these OAs relished the musical opportunities
available to them at School and it was fantastic to see them
create such a captivating evening for all.
About the performers
Becca Sandler – Becca has always been musical and said “I can’t
remember whether I learnt to sing or to talk first”. During her time
at School she played Madame Thénardier in the 2014 production of
Les Misérables. She was also head of the School Choir in her Upper
Sixth year and performed in the annual jazz evenings and summer
term Cabarets. She now works as an Executive Assistant at a Private
Hospital in Surrey but still has a passion for jazz singing and hopes
to make this charity evening an annual January event to help ‘Cure
the January Blues’.
Joe Zacaroli – Joe is currently studying Engineering at Oxford
but has kept up his jazz throughout university playing in a function
band for four years. He plays jazz and funk to the Oxford student
population at their world-famous May Balls as well as doing small
gigs back in Hertfordshire with Becca. During Joe’s time at School,
he led the School’s Jazz Band and formed his own 4-piece band
with Kaine Levy, Will (OAs 2014) and Toby Barnes (OA 2016).
Mitchell Zhangazha – Mitchell has recently started in Motown
the Musical in the West End, having graduated from Southampton
with a History degree two years ago. He also had a run as ‘Little Mo’
in Five Guys Named Mo up in Edinburgh and still loves performing.
Whilst at School, Mitchell was involved in various music evenings
as well as the Summer Cabarets.
James Lear – James is currently in his first year at the University
of Leeds, studying Music and Enterprise. During his time at School,
James was in the School Choir, actively partook in inter-house
music competitions, sang and played at the jazz evening and also
performed at the Summer Cabarets.
1. JAMES LEAR 2. BECCA SANDLER
3. MITCHELL ZHANGAZHA
THE OLD ALBANIAN
by John Williams (OA 1964)
THE YEAR OF THE OA
OA Football Club
by Nick Jackson (OA 2005)
DAVID CAMERON (LEFT) AND CHRIS WHITESIDE (OA 1979)
CAMPAIGNING IN THE 2010 ELECTION
The Lodge year commences in May when the Master
Elect, Edward Rawlings, will be installed in the Chair
by the outgoing Master of the Lodge, Alistair Cooper,
followed by the appointment of the Lodge Officers for the
ensuing year. Alistair’s year in the Chair has been excellent,
with ceremonies at each meeting, two of which have been
carried out on behalf of the Old Berkhamstedian Lodge due
to a lack of new members joining our Lodge.
At the meeting in March, the members were delighted to
learn that Chris Whiteside has been awarded an MBE for
political and public service (read more on page 4, OA News).
Chris was initiated into the Lodge in 1996 and would have
been elected Master in 2005 had the installation meeting
in May not coincided with the general election in which he
was standing as a parliamentary candidate in the Copeland
constituency in West Cumbria. Chris was at last installed as
Master of the Lodge in 2015.
Of course, Chris is not the first former Master of the Lodge to
be honoured. The late Raymond Hughes, long time organist
in the Lodge, who was Master in 1966 received an MBE.
DR DAVID STAPLES, FRCP, DEPGDC
The late Sam Kilpatrick,
Master in 1969, was also
awarded an MBE and the
late Geoffrey Pryke, a Master
at the School and Master of
the Lodge in 1970, received
In September, Dr David
Staples, FRCP, DepGDC,
commenced in the newly
created role of Chief Executive Officer of the United Grand
Lodge of England which runs Freemasonry in England,
Wales and the Channel Islands. David is 42-years-old and
was formerly Clinical Director of Peterborough and Stamford
Hospitals NHS Trust, where he was responsible for managing
1,100 staff and an income and expenditure budget of over
£100 million. He trained initially as a doctor at the University
of Oxford and has held a series of senior clinical roles across
the UK. Following a number of scurrilous articles in the press,
a personal letter by Dr David Staples, entitled ‘Enough is
Enough’, appeared as a full page advert in national newspapers
on 7th February 2018, calling for an end to the discrimination
and misrepresentation against Freemasonry in the media. An
extract from the letter is below;
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
The United Grand Lodge of England believes that the
ongoing gross misrepresentation of its 200,000 plus
members is discrimination. Pure and simple.
We owe it to our membership to take this stance; they
shouldn’t have to feel undeservedly stigmatised. No other
organisation would stand for this and nor shall we.
I have written to the Equality and Human Rights
Commission to make this case.
I appreciate that you may have questions about who we are
and what we do, so over the next six months our members
will be running a series of open evenings and Q&A events
up and down the country. These will be promoted in the
local media and on our website.
I am also happy to answer any queries directly.
Please feel free to write to me here at Freemasons’ Hall,
60 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ and I will come
back to you.
The Lodge meets only five times a year on the second
Saturday in January, March, May and September and
the first Saturday in November. All those interested are
welcome to apply for membership, for which purpose the
first approach should be to any Lodge member. Members of
other Lodges, are also encouraged to visit us whenever they
wish. The Secretary or Assistant Secretary will be delighted
to hear from them.
OAs V OLD STOICS
In early 2017, The Old Albanians were approached by The Arthurian
League (an English association football league for teams of
independent schools). Following a handful of friendlies, the hacked
together band of brothers were offered entry as a wildcard to the League’s
‘Arthurian DW Trophy’, and whilst the Old Albanians couldn’t quite pull
off a Goran Ivanisevic wildcard display (although their cup run was still
impressive), it sparked enough interest in its core members to enter a full
As word of a new football team rippled through the OA network
following a strong pre-season recruitment drive, the 2017/18 season saw
terrific new signings enter the fray, adding both quality and depth to a
squad determined to take on old rivals and impress.
With a strong balance of youth and experience, along with the School’s
unwavering support providing home-ground pitches at Woollams
(School fixtures permitting), the opening games of the season saw the
OA’s perched firmly at the top of the table.
Whilst the age range from the youngest through to the oldest Albanian
in the squad spans over a decade, the common variable of spirit and
St Albans School competitive edge came together immediately. In a
gentle nod to the hard fought battles that were once held there, the King
Harry ‘Man of the Match’ trophy (presented at the end of each game
following player nominations) has seen a myriad of proud short-term
owners. This not only showcases the sense of balance within the squad,
but emphasises the metaphorical sense of purpose and tradition that has
been achieved in such a short space of time at the Club, and one that is
set to continue.
Despite a season of highs, lows and the odd injury (in particular the
Club Captain, Alex Addison (OA 2005), the value of having dusted off
a few sporting cobwebs has been profound, not only culminating in a
third place finish (with just three league defeats), but a network brought
together through sport and driven forward through mutual values, new
friendships and team culture.
The long-term vision of OA Football (one of the few OA teams to
solely consist of Old Albanians who attended St Albans School) is to
further develop the network to enable a first, second, and third team. If
you would like to join, we are open for business. Exciting sponsorship
opportunities are also available and only a click or call away so do please
get in touch.
For more information on fixtures or to join the OA Match Report mail
outs, please email email@example.com.
ON A SPREE
Rugby Football Club
The cricket season is upon us. OACC is hoping to have
another successful season to follow the two promotions of our
2nd and 3rd XIs in 2017 and the consolidation of the 1st XI in
the Herts League Division 1.
The 1st XI fixture list for 2018 is as follows:
Sat 19th May
OA Cricket Club
by Richard Morgan (OA 1979)
Sat 26th May
Sat 2nd June
Sat 9th June
Sat 16th June
Sat 23rd June
Sat 30th June
Sat 7th July
Sat 14th July
Sat 21st July
Sat 28th July
Sat 4th August
Sat 11th August
Sat 18th August
Sat 15th August
Sat 1st Sept
Harpenden II (away)
Old Owens (home)
Knebworth Park (away)
Kings Langley (away)
Shenley Village (away)
Harpenden II (home)
Old Owens (away)
Knebworth Park (home)
Kings Langley (away)
We have two exciting events planned in June. Here are a
couple of dates for your diary:
Vice Presidents Lunch – Saturday 9th June
Contact Richard Morgan for details (see page 2)
OA Legends Lunch & Game Versus a Select XI –
Sunday 24th June
Contact Alan Philpott (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details
Support for all four teams, both on the pitch and off, is most
welcome! Contact Richard Morgan for further information
about the Club.
OA Golf Club
by Peter Dredge (OA 1961)
The OAGS was pleased to visit Lakeside Lodge near
Huntingdon at the beginning of October 2017 for the
annual away trip. It was an excellent venue with ideal
facilities including individual rooms for attendees
and a designated lounge for private celebrations and
presentations, enabling us to participate in some top
socialising. Weather was favourable for the three days.
Several team formats and various playing partnerships
contributed to an enjoyable visit, which we plan to repeat
The final playing event of the season involved the
competition at Mid-Herts for the Briggs Goblets – a fourball,
better-ball, Stableford event. A magnificent round by
Kevin O’Donoghue (OA 1959) supported in admiration
by his playing partner, the Secretary, produced 44 points,
sufficient to win by one point from Rick Drakard (OA
1963) and Brian Hayden-Smith.
Our Captain, Graham Tate (OA 1960), presided over the
Annual Dinner held at Harpenden Common, attended by
36 members and their partners. Grateful thanks go to our
senior and longstanding member Jim Putterill (OA 1951)
for arranging the venue and ensuring a highly enjoyable
evening with excellent food and rations.
The programme for 2018 includes matches with Mid-
Herts GC, Old Berkhamstedians, Old Habs and Old
Cholmeleians. The OA Cup will be held at Gog Magog
Golf Club on 11th June, kind permission of John Smith.
Graham Tate’s Captain’s Day is scheduled for 19th July at
his home Club, Dunstable Downs Golf Club, where we
will compete for the Pop Rush trophy.
All OAs are most welcome to attend any of our fixtures
and full details will be happily provided by Peter Dredge
at email@example.com. Members’ handicaps range from
4 to 28 and our main aim is to enjoy meeting up with
contemporaries and old friends, playing some decent
courses along the way.
OAs AT WOOLLAMS
2018 saw significant
changes in personnel
for the Old Albanian
Rugby Club for coaches,
players and officials.
James Shanahan, a 2-time
Head Coach, moved on
at the end of last season
to join famous Old Club
Blackheath. His replacement, Gavin Hogg, took over for
summer training with support from Bruce Millar, Director
of Rugby. Gavin has an excellent pedigree and previously
helped Bury St Edmunds gain promotion to National League
2. Gavin and his family have moved from Suffolk to be nearer
Woollams enabling him to focus on OAs and his role teaching
and coaching at Oaklands College.
Part of Gavin’s task this season has been made more
challenging by a number of player changes from last year’s
OA 1st XV squad. These include Club moves by past Captain
Billy Johnson (Ampthill), hooker Josh Taylor (Ampthill), back
row Harry Bate and hooker Matt Miles (both Blackheath),
young props Hayden King (Blackheath) and Karl Garside
(Ampthill), centre Jimmy Speirs (Harpenden) and a number
of stalwarts from the last 10 years including Lloyd Bickle,
Ollie Cooper-Miller, Chris Lombaard, Neil Stevens, Andrew
Daish and Chris May deciding to hang up their boots.
In spite of this outflow, the Club has successfully attracted
significant new talent and combined with the ever-improving
crop of former Colts, the men’s senior teams have regularly
turned out four sides with a full bench every week.
As this article is being written (March 2018) the season has
been challenging for the new 1st XV squad who have also
had to contend with an unprecedented run of injuries and are
currently in a fight to avoid relegation. However, a recent run
of wins against Bishop’s Stortford (36-17), Fylde (31-21) and
Loughborough Students (34-19) means all is not lost.
For fixtures and match reports, please visit
The Club as a whole continues to thrive and supports rugby
at all levels and abilities from Minis (4-11 years old) through
Juniors (12-18 years old) to senior men and women in the
local St Albans and Herts community.
by Paul Richardson (OA 1979), President OA RFC
The younger sections for both boys and girls continue to
perform to a very high standard. We were proud to see eight
former OA Colts named in the latest RFU Stags (U20) County
squad in February 2018 and 10 players from the Saints
ladies’ section were chosen to attend a special Saracens rugby
development camp. As many as 16 of the Junior Saints U18
represented Hertfordshire County!
The non-National League men’s sides (Romans (2’s),
Gladiators (3’s) and Grizzlies) have all had strong seasons
with both the Gladiators and Grizzlies near the top of their
leagues and helping to “blood” a large number of 17 and 18
year-old lads in senior men’s rugby.
OA Saints, the senior ladies’ side,
are currently lying third in the
Women’s Championship South
East Division 2.
Socially the Clubhouse continues
to host pre-match lunches on a
Saturday, international games
on the ‘big screen’ and welcomes
members and guests to enjoy the
excellent range of food and drink
in a quality, convivial facility.
The Rugby Club remain committed to playing rugby at the
highest affordable level for the 1st XV whilst also providing
a competitive and fun atmosphere for boys and girls, ladies
and men at all other levels. We are always open to new players
– please contact Richard Homer, Membership Secretary, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or check the website for details.
We maintain links with Saracens RFC who provide a series
of benefits including integration with their academy and
coaching opportunities for players. We also encourage local
businesses, organisations and individuals, who might like to
sponsor the Club to get in touch with Mike Johnson in our
Sponsorship Team at email@example.com.
Close links with the School will also continue, with games
planned for the School sides under lights on the OAs main
pitch next season.
Why not come along to watch a match at Woollams?
All are welcome!
OA Tennis Club
by Maureen Harcourt
As I write this report, we are getting prepared for the summer
season. We have entered three teams, Ladies, Mens and
Mixed, into the Watford and District League so we have a full
calendar of fixtures. We are going to have a working party to
spruce up the courts and have invested in four new tennis
nets, as the old ones were getting rather shabby. We are also
improving our notice boards so that people interested in
playing tennis can find the information they need.
We are excited about the new website and we hope this will
attract new players moving into the area.
For the first time this year, we entered a Mixed Team into
the East Herts Autumn League and a Ladies Team into the
Hertfordshire Senior Winter League. Given the bad weather
over the winter, getting all the matches played has been
challenging; however, those who have played in the fixtures
have found them enjoyable and it is definitely something we
will repeat next year.
Margie Edge, our Club Coach, is offering a full range of
coaching opportunities for adults and children.
Please visit our website for more information
We continue to welcome new players
to the Club so do contact either
Margie Edge (firstname.lastname@example.org) if
you are interested in finding out more.
OK… DID ANYONE FEED
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As if the “Beast from the East” hadn’t caused enough
disruption, our first Bisley shoot of the 2018 season then
fell afoul of the snowfall and -5˚C wind chill predicted
from its successor, “The Mini Beast”, that followed in
Of course, March is never likely to be an easy month
weather wise but one has to take that leap of faith when
setting up the season’s calendar the previous year. We can
usually shrug off a bit of wind and rain. So, back in the
autumn of 2017 the offer of a deal on the 300yard Butt 19
electronic range was a tempting season opener to get us
tuned into full-bore again. The early trip to Bisley is also
an opportunity to hold an AGM, to sort out equipment
storage and to do a bit of Club shopping for small-bore
targets ahead of the summer season, this year particularly
so, in order to make best use of our new locker in the
London Middlesex armoury. So our initial plans were
well and truly scuppered. Added to which the popularity
OA Rifle Club
by Andrew Wilkie (OA 1965)
of Butt 19 is so far preventing us making a replacement
The winter small-bore results have been holding up well
and at the time of writing, we are in first position in
Division 2, with two rounds to go. Martin Warr and I are
running neck-and-neck on aggregate but Nick Tubby
snuck in a 99 in Round Eight. There are four teams on
four points in the Division (2 points for a win in each
round) and the aggregate scores are very close. Clearly,
competition is alive and well and everyone is going for
the line. We now await the scorer’s analysis to see how we
Here’s looking forward to our next trip to Bisley and some
warmer weather, preferably dry and sunny.
Good shooting to all and if anyone wants to take up or get
back to shooting then feel free to contact me. We’d love to
hear from you.
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