Versa: Issue Four


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










Chris Jewell’s

Thai cave rescue



this issue

Editorial Team

Chris Harbour

Sarah Osborne

Upcoming Events 2

OA President’s Notes 3

OA News 4

On Set with Mike Newell 7

Bursary Campaign 8

Meet the Archivist 9

Featured OA: Chris Jewell 10

Mathematics & CCF Building Update 12

OA Events 13


The Farm Sale by Pat Taylor 18

OA Lodge 19

OA Sports 20



St Albans School


Old Albanian


St Albans School

St Albans School Foundation | CHARITY NO. 1092932

2 3



Mike Hodge

07774 161624


David Buxton

01727 840499


David Hughes

07701 027881

Membership Secretary

Roger Cook

01727 836877

Hon. Auditor

Peter Dew

01582 453773




Richard Milnes

07940 255355


Rory Davis

07748 146521

Hon. Treasurer

Rick Powdrell

07795 200125

Hon. Secretary

Peter Lipscomb

07856 240229

Mini Chairman

Mike Fisher

07799 345807

Junior Chairman

Ian Tomlins

07867 971585

OA Saints Chairperson

Julia Holmes

07971 238928



Nick Jackson



Richard Morgan

01727 843844


David Goodier


Richard Ransley

07878 499432


Alison Finley

01727 853985


Membership Enquiries

Maureen Harcourt

07710 270361



Owen Simmons

01438 840674


Andrew Wilkie

01202 851694


Andrew Moore

01643 851694



Geoff Cannon

01727 861622 / 01582 792512



Peter Dredge

01582 834572

Hon. Secretary

Kevin O’Donoghue

01525 758356


Assistant Secretary

John Williams

01438 715679


Development Director

Kate Gray

01727 515177

Alumni Relations &

Development Manager

Chris Harbour

01727 515185

Alumni Relations &

Development Assistant

Sarah Osborne

01727 224540


Sue Gregory

01727 515178


Chris Harbour

Alumni Relations & Development


Sarah Osborne

Alumni Relations & Development




Thursday 25th April 2019

OA London Drinks Party

The Morrison Room, The Caledonian Club, 9 Halkin Street,

Belgravia, London, SW1X 7DR

For the first time, the OA London Drinks Party will be held at The Caledonian Club

in Belgravia. All OAs are welcome to attend and we encourage you to round up others

in your year to come and socialise! Tickets are £20.00, with concessions of £10.00 for

recent leavers (who left the School between 2013-2018) and former staff. Tickets are

free for students.

Friday 10th May 2019

Gateway Feast

St Albans School, Refectory

Members of the Gateway Society are welcome to attend our annual Gateway Feast.

Membership of the Gateway Society is exclusive to those who have left a gift in their

will to the St Albans School Foundation. Members receive an exclusive Gateway silk

tie (or an equivalent for female members) and an invitation to the annual Gateway

Feast as a token of our appreciation.

Friday 28th June 2019

Golden Jubilee Reunion: Classes of 1969 and 1976

St Albans School / School Pavilion at The Woollam Playing Fields

This summer sees the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1976’s first day and the Class

of 1969’s last day at St Albans School. To mark this occasion, we are planning a joint

Golden Jubilee Reunion with these year groups. A formal invitation will follow but in

the meantime, if you are in one of these year groups, please do save the date.

Saturday 6th July 2019

Founders’ Day

St Albans Abbey / St Albans School / School Pavilion at The Woollam

Playing Fields

This year’s Founders' Day will follow the usual form of the traditional Abbey Service

followed by a drinks reception. The year groups involved in the Gaudy Reunion will

be decided nearer the date but all OAs are welcome to attend the Service, drinks and

sporting activities up at Woollams.

Friday 20th September 2019

OA Dinner

St Albans School, Refectory

The ever-popular OA Dinner is back for another year and will be held in the Refectory

at the School. The informal dinner, open to all OAs, will start with (optional) tours of

the School followed by a delicious two-course meal. Tickets are £15.00 for OAs.

Tickets for OA events are available to book online via OA Connect

or by telephone/post/email via the contact details below.

Development Office

Tel: 01727 515187


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


Iwill begin my OA Presidential Notes for Issue 4 of the

brilliant Versa with the School’s Act of Remembrance,

which was held in the Abbey on 9th November 2018.

This Service had a particular poignancy as 2018 marked the

centenary of the end of the First World War, which ended

on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

The Headmaster delivered a very thought-provoking address,

which included the words of John McCrae’s poem In Flanders’

Fields. The Service concluded with the Headmaster and the

School Chaplain reading out the names of 195 Old Albanians

who did not survive the two World Wars. The School’s

pupils and the rest of the congregation then stood at the War

Memorial in Upper Yard whilst a School bugler played ‘The

Last Post’, faultlessly. I was very grateful for the many OAs who

were present in the Abbey for this unique Remembrance Day

Service. I watched, that weekend, the Festival of Remembrance

in The Royal Albert Hall. It was truly memorable – could I

suggest that you find Sir Tom Jones singing, ‘Take My Hand,

Precious Lord’ on YouTube?

Turning, then, to music. I particularly enjoyed the article

on Rod Argent and The Zombies in the last issue of Versa.

The School contingent of The Zombies were at School in my

time though a few years older. I well remember their first

performance on Top of the Pops in September 1964 with ‘She’s

Not There’. I had been on holiday on the Isle of Wight with my

BSA motorbike. I hurried home to see the programme but the

bike expired on Marlborough Road! I left the bike and ran the

rest of the way home just in time to catch TOTP. The Zombies

(and another group called The Exit) used to perform on

Saturday nights at Beech Bottom – the previous OA Ground.

What fantastic nights they were with the old wooden flooring

bouncing up and down with the audience leaping about.

Never to be forgotten!

Back to School events then. I went to the City Networking

Drinks held in London at the end of November. Numbers

were down this year which was a pity. This is a thoroughly

good event and I would encourage all OAs to attend if

they can. That event was closely followed by the School’s

performance of Bugsy Malone, which was nothing short of

brilliant! The Director, Lucy Hanneghan-Birt, the School’s

Head of Drama, did a fantastic job with the cast, band and

the whole production team. It is difficult to single out any of

the cast as they were all amazing – though Leo Shaw, cast as a

police officer, was the natural comedian. A truly memorable

evening and a very long way removed from what we used to

put on in the mid-60s.

The School Carol Service was up to its usual stunning quality

– the School Choir seem to get better and better. There were a

number of new works added to the programme and, clearly, a

Mike Hodge (OA 1965), OA President

great deal of practice had been undertaken. Again, so different

from when I was in the School Choir all those years ago.

In December, I put on a Charity fundraising event in

Harpenden with Peter Knapp (OA 1965) for the A-T Society.

The evening was sponsored by Mike Peters (OA 1982) of Jarvis

Homes Ltd. We like to keep all the OAs together! A-T stands

for Ataxia Telangiectasia, a rare degenerative and life-limiting

condition. The event was very well attended - plenty of OAs

there and it raised £4,200 for the A-T Society! The School also

raised funds for the A-T Society in December with Gareth

Burger (Assistant Head: Co-Curricular and Head of Third

Form), his son Jonty and several Lower School pupils collecting

over £1,000 with the St Albans Round Table Santa Sleigh.

As far as the OA Association is concerned, all the Sports

groups remain in good heart. The OARFC 1st XV is having a

challenging time in their League and they have recently had

to appoint a new Coach. They are in a tough League with a lot

of travelling – the fixtures against Harpenden, Welwyn and

Hertford are long since gone.

At the OA Club AGM in December, the name change was

approved from The Old Albanian Club to The Old Albanian

Association. This reflects the position that we are an Association

– not a fusty Old Boys Club. Also at the AGM, the appointment

of Peter Dew (OA 1965) as Honorary Auditor to the OA

Association was ratified (previously held by Peter Sherring who

sadly died in 2018). Finally, at the AGM, the OAA approved

an Annual Sports Grant of £2,000 per annum to suitable

students of the School from the Lower Sixth upwards. It will

encompass both male and female students and will be available

for any sport – not just those featured at OAs. I, personally,

am delighted to get this Sports Grant underway as sport has

always been very close to my heart. I look forward to seeing the

practical effect of this Sports Grant as the years roll on.

All that is left is to wish you all well, despite what the

politicians have in mind for us. May you all remain fit, healthy

and optimistic!




4 5

OA News





with Fame

Recent leaver, Romy Kelleher (OA 2018), was delighted

to appear on Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year 2019, on

Tuesday 5th March. Romy took part in the filming during the

week of her Art A Level exam last year and had the tough task

of keeping it a secret for a whole year! Romy said;

“I am thankful to the School for pushing me in my creative

journey, giving me the confidence to apply for the show. It

is probably the biggest achievement of my life so far. The

teachers at School have been a big part of both my painting

and acting career to date.”

If you want to see how Romy got on, you can find the episode

on Sky catch-up or Now TV.


Old Albanian Andrew Reed (OA 1981) has recently published SNOW

BUSINESS – Nordic Adventures of a ski rep in 2018. The book describes

a season working as a ski rep in Åre, northern Sweden and is a useful

guide for aspiring ski reps, providing insight into a typical winter season and

exploring Swedish culture and traditions. The book is a humorous account of his

experiences from the daunting first week of the selection process in Austria, the

convoluted journey by road, ship and rail to the resort itself and the hectic first

month. The chapters that follow reveal a very different type of ski resort to the

normal alpine resort, with activities that included snowmobile safaris, husky dog

sledging, chaotic reindeer rides and visits to the spectacular frozen waterfall.

Andrew’s book refers to a couple of teachers including Charles Bloxham, who

imparted valuable advice about life not being fair.

If you’re interested in reading the book, it can purchased online at Waterstones

or Amazon.


Limited Edition Artwork

Albany Wiseman (OA 1946), a talented illustrator

(mentioned in the news article; Robin Meets Her Majesty

The Queen) has recently gifted three limited edition

lithographs to Luton and Dunstable University Hospital.

His framed artwork (one which features a ballet dancer,

and another, a countryside landscape) will hang in the

entrance to Ward 19, where Albany recently received care.

Albany studied at St Albans Art College and has been

drawing and painting for over 30 years.



Seven Up!

Since the age of seven, Bruce Balden (Former Staff), has featured in

the documentary series Seven Up, which has followed the lives of

14 British children every seven years since 1964. Bruce has recently

finished filming the seventh episode for 63 Up and has provided us with

an amusing taster of what to expect in the next episode.

“Alas, my age is rapidly approaching the next multiple of seven which

means another septennial episode in the documentary. This time they

caught up with us in New York on holiday (as the director, Michael

Apted, lives in the USA).

“The episode will show George, our younger son, and me in Times

Square. In another scene, I was being filmed walking along a street with

brownstone houses in Brooklyn. The car with the camera was travelling

at walking speed. Backed up behind it were 10 cars including two cabs.

All the cars were blaring their hooters. Michael exited from the car with

the camera and berated them all. ‘This is an important documentary and

you will have to wait!” The cabbies explained, in quite graphic terms,

where he could put his so-called important documentary!”

Make sure you catch the episode airing on ITV in spring 2019!


The Queen

Robin Ollington (OA 1947) is well known for being

the illustrator who sparked a Christmas tradition.

One evening when passing Buckingham Palace at

Christmas, he noticed the lack of festivities and wrote to

The Queen suggesting where to place a Christmas tree. The


Queen responded and ever since, a tree has stood in the

window of Buckingham Palace every Christmas! You may

also recognise Robin’s illustrations on some of the postal

stamps that have graced your letters over the years.

Robin and Albany Wiseman (OA 1946) have recently

finished illustrating Captain Coram: Champion for Children,

a new children’s book telling the remarkable but little known

story of Thomas Coram, who campaigned for welfare,

education and rights of vulnerable children in the early 18th

Century. The charity Coram, founded in Thomas’ name,

will be distributing copies to every primary school and

library in England.

On 5th December 2018, Her Majesty The Queen opened a

new building at Coram’s central London campus dedicated

to children’s rights and named in her honour. Robin had the

pleasure of finally meeting Her Majesty after their exchange

of letters many years ago. Congratulations go to Robin and

Albany for illustrating and Frank Lee for producing such

a wonderful book, which we’re sure will be read across the

country for many years to come.




Inducted to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


As many OAs already know, former students, Rod

Argent (OA 1963) and Paul Atkinson (OA 1964),

formed part of The Zombies when they were pupils

at St Albans School in 1961.

It has recently been announced that the band have been

inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and will feature

in a new exhibit, putting The Zombies’ career and music in

the spotlight. The surviving band members Hugh Grundy,

Chris White, Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent will be

dedicating the exhibit on Wednesday 12th July 2019.

Items on display will include Paul Atkinson’s acoustic

guitar, which he used when recording ‘Tell Her No’, Rod

Argent’s Hohner electric pianet and sheet music.

Fans will be able to learn how the band have influenced

popular music and artists such as Dave Grohl and the Arctic

Monkeys, and how the members dealt with their fame.

Rod Argent reminisces on The Zombies journey over the


“I think it’s almost impossible for those born later than us to

understand the unbelievably huge culture gap which then

existed between England and America. If anyone had told

me on that fateful first day that 58 years later our names

could possibly be indelibly recorded alongside some of

our all-time musical heroes - including Miles Davis, Elvis

Presley, Ray Charles and The Beatles - well, we would have

regarded them as clinically insane.

“And yet this, from such small beginnings, is what has

happened. I’ve woken up more mornings than I can possibly

count thinking how extraordinarily lucky I have been

to have been able to earn a good living all my life from

something I would otherwise have actually paid

to do...

“To now have been recognised in what once, all those years

ago, would have seemed such a totally unimaginable way,

feels like a thrill, a privilege and a true honour.”

Huge congratulations go to the band!


(OA 1960)

Former Head of School Milo Knights recently had the unique opportunity to not only work on-set for the

Red Nose Day sequel to Four Weddings and a Funeral but to also work with one of our most renowned Old

Albanians and Director of the film, Mike Newell (OA 1960).

We caught up with Milo to see how he got on…

How was it working with Mike?

It was a really great experience to work with Mike. Having

known of him and the films he has made, it would be

understandable to feel nervous prior to meeting him.

However, any such apprehension was immediately evaporated

by his warm welcome and delightful charm. Personally, it

was incredibly insightful to see him work and be able to gain

some invaluable advice whenever he had a spare moment.

What did your day-to-day tasks involve?

I was mainly working with the producer and production team

for the film. The production team is responsible for pulling

the whole project together and ensuring that all the necessary

facets of the film come together smoothly. It's difficult to

specify the "day-to-day" tasks as no two days were the same. I

would be assisting with administrative tasks one minute and

travelling across London running errands the next; making

for a very dynamic experience. Additionally, given the nature

of the project, it was exciting to be dealing with documents

and tasks involving the very recognisable cast.

A highlight for me was spending a couple of days working

with the costume department for the film. This again

highlighted the diverse and dynamic nature of the experience.

It was fantastic to see the process involved with building the

costumes and outfits for the characters. Also to be present for

a costume fitting for one of the actors was a great experience,

seeing the character come to life.

Do you think this is a career route you would like to pursue?

It is definitely something that I would consider as a career

route, especially after having such an eye-opening experience


By Milo Knights (OA 2015)

on this project. I'm still unsure of what path to take in terms

of a career, but I've been incredibly fortunate to have an

experience like this which has given me such a unique insight

into this particular area. It has certainly fuelled an interest in

the world of media and film.

How were the cast? Any spoilers?!

The cast were brilliant, and from my perspective, it was very

surreal to be on the set and actually see these actors perform

live. The shooting of the film took place over two days, which

were both long hours and very intense, so it was quite funny

how quickly you became accustomed to seeing these famous

faces around! Unfortunately, my lips are sealed in terms of

spoilers, but as those who have seen the original might have

guessed, it does involve a wedding. Naturally, things perhaps

don't go as expected...!

What did you learn from the experience?

This experience was a big learning curve for me, working

in an industry in which I had no prior knowledge or idea

of what it would entail. The project was a short film for

Comic Relief and as such, I got to see the whole process from

preparation to filming. This was the most insightful learning

experience. It enabled me to appreciate the many different

phases of filming that would usually take place over a much

longer period for a feature film.

Finally, it was inspiring to see how the hard work of many

different people in different specialised areas - however great

or small the contribution - came together under the same

common goal of producing the best film they can.

25-years after the original film was released, the one-off special

sequel was shown during the Red Nose Day broadcast on 15th

March 2019.




The School has launched its next fundraising campaign

with a short animation film (available to view in the

Foundation section of the School website), outlining

the range of life-changing opportunities that are available via

our Bursary scheme. We have always provided a number of

bursaries at St Albans School, including 100% fee remission

for those families most in need, and this new fundraising

campaign aims to further increase the number of local

students that we can support.

Many of our OAs who benefitted from the Direct Grant

scheme will recognise the value of a School Bursary and we

hope they will choose to support us for the benefit of future

generations of pupils.

Bursaries are entirely different from academic scholarships:

bursaries are awarded solely through means-testing of

applicants who have performed strongly in the entrance




Current Fees £18,600

Gift of £14,880 per annum or

£1,240 per month (+ gift aid)




£1,240 net per month,

for 2 years (24 months)

examination. This process is entirely confidential. Indeed,

even our staff are unaware of which families receive financial

support. Scholarships, on the other hand, are a publicly

celebrated distinction awarded for excellence in specified

areas – these are not funded by the St Albans School

Foundation but directly by the School’s scholarship fund.

In awarding a bursary, means-testing is undertaken rigorously

by an external agency, to ensure that our limited funds are

directed to families who are in the most need of assistance.

We have recently introduced a supplementary fund for those

on 100% bursaries, (who would qualify for free School meals

in the maintained sector), to help with additional costs such

as lunches, transport and School trips.

Further details of how to make a donation are below. We

would also encourage our former pupils to collaborate with

others in their year group to fund a ‘Class of ’ Bursary(ies).



I would like to make a single gift of




£1,240 net per month,

for 5 years (60 months)

as follows:

Name on card:




£1,240 net per month,

for 7 years (84 months)

Sue Gregory writes...



Sue Gregory

The School has recently appointed Sue Gregory as Archivist. Sue’s role involves

managing the Museum and helping to preserve over 1,000 years of rich history.

Hello to everyone, the School appointed me as

Archivist in October, taking over from the voluntary

hands of Alderman Nigel WoodSmith, Michael

Hollins and Mike Highstead, who I would like to thank

for their efforts in starting up the Museum for the School.

Although the role is new for me at the School, I have been an

archivist for many years, mainly working within businesses

but also helping to set up an archive at a school similar to St

Albans School.

My intention for the Archive is to continue to keep records

of all the pupils and staff, as well as chronicles of schoollife

and its activities, at either Pen Arthur, Woollams or the

various expeditions abroad. In addition, I will continue the

very important research conducted on the Roll of Honour for

those OAs who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Our archives are extremely important in providing evidence

of activities and telling a story of our 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 so it is

important we organise and store the plethora of individual

items responsibly and appropriately.

touch with me with on,

with any information, I would be very grateful! I am also

looking for photographs of drama performances throughout

the years and posters advertising such events. I would like

to add if you are having a clear out, and the items you have

are no longer needed, then please do think of the archive

and Museum of the School, which would gladly receive your


I look forward to meeting more Old Albanians in the coming

months. In the meantime, please bear with me whilst I get to

grips with names, and who is who!




If you wish for your donation to the St Albans

School Bursary Fund to remain anonymous,

please tick here

If your gift is made on behalf of or in memory of

somebody, please provide details.


£1,240 £14,880

I would like to set up a standing order -

please send me the relevant form

I enclose a cheque made payable

to St Albans School Foundation

I enclose a Charities Aid Foundation

(CAF) voucher

Please debit my:

Visa / Delta MasterCard UK Maestro

Card number :

Start Date / Issue No. (if applicable)

Expiry Date:

Security Code:



xx / xx

(3 digit code on the back of the card)

xx / xx

I would like to collect items which form part of the life of an

Old Albanian, whether staff or pupil, this could be in the form

of a specific artefact, their life’s work or letters and ephemera

relating to their family. My long-term goal is to increase the

accessibility of the Museum and archive, for current pupils,

OAs and the wider community. Currently, the Museum is

only open to the public during the City’s Heritage events and

by appointment. I will most certainly keep everyone informed

as to how we progress with this.

My first big ask of Versa readers is for information which

relates to the School Choir, in particular, the Headmaster

William Marsh’s last concert held in 1963, or the 1973

Berlioz Concert recorded in the Abbey. If you can get in

10 Featured OA


How did you come to attend St Albans School?

I grew up in Potters Bar where Dame Alice Owens is the

usual go-to school. I applied, but there wasn’t any space for

me and my parents faced the prospect of being left with an

undesirable school. It was then they thought about private

education. We were from a modest background so it was a

big decision to send me to an independent school. I sat the

entrance exam very late and started the same year as Andrew

Grant [Former Headmaster].

What was most memorable for you at School?

I really enjoyed CCF. I remember Major Everitt fondly – he is

someone I would love to meet again. I was a Scout so I loved

the CCF camps. The Cadet Force was a clear winner for me

and became my favourite part of the week.

What came after School?

I studied for four years at Southampton University which led

me to a career in IT Consultancy.

I joined the OTC at Southampton and whilst I enjoyed it, I

found it much stricter than CCF, as you would expect! After

an OTC summer camp, I was on the bus home with a friend

who said they fancied joining the Caving Club and I thought

it sounded fun. There was no one waking you up at 6am with

a bugle for starters! I was hooked and stayed with the Club

for three years. After university, I worked in a Dive Centre in

the Costa del Sol for a while. I then came home to a job in IT

and decided to take up a hobby in cave diving, combining the

two sports.

Where did this hobby take you?


In the summer of 2018, 12 boys and their football coach found themselves

trapped in a Thai cave. The story of what happened next gripped the world,

and at the heart of their dramatic rescue was Chris Jewell (OA 2000)…

I joined an organisation called the Cave Diving Group – it

is the oldest recreational diving club in the world. Its main

purpose is to take cavers, and teach them how to dive, rather

than teaching divers how to cave. With this group, I took part

in various expeditions in the UK; including the Mendip Hills

and the Yorkshire Dales.


One expedition to Mexico led us to establishing the deepest

cave in the western hemisphere. The cave had been explored

and mapped in the 70s, then extended in the 90s and after

that, it was considered too difficult to explore the furthest

reaches until we went there in 2013. We were on site for seven

weeks. We would do multiple days underground at a time, the

longest stint being ten days. Coming out after ten days you’re

a bit grubby and want a beer but being dirty and unwashed

for a while doesn’t bother me! I guess I learned that in CCF.

You have to do what’s necessary to get the job done. If that

means crawling around in mud and not showering, so be it.

How did you come to be involved in the rescue mission in


For a number of years now I have been the Diving Officer of the

British Cave Rescue Council, which is the national governing

body for cave rescue in the UK. The Council have been asked

on serval occasions to provide diving expertise to rescue

operations in other countries.

“The situation was not just

unprecedented, it was unbelievable.”

Rick Stanton, Jason Mallison, John Volanthen and I have been

working with the Council for a number of years. When the

incident started in Thailand, Rick and John went out quickly. I

was then on standby with Jason as the next two divers to go out.

We were called out the day after the boys were found by Rick

and John. The boys were in that cave for fourteen days. Nobody

knew if they were alive - It took ten days before they were

found. The situation in Thailand was unprecedented. Nobody

has ever brought anybody out of a cave in that environment,

with that many underwater sections, let alone the rescue

involving children. The situation was not just unprecedented,

it was unbelievable. If you were to describe it, people wouldn’t

believe it actually happened. It sounds more like a Hollywood

movie but as they say, the truth is stranger than fiction!

At what point was it decided that you would dive to get the

boys out?

There were many experts from around the world on site and

therefore many competing strategies for how to get them out.

Some were considering drilling like the rescue of the Chilean

miners. The problem was nobody could accurately identify

the chamber the boys were in from the surface. So that was

impractical. Others considered pumping the water out but

this wouldn’t work either. The cave is a series of U-bends

which are connected; If you suck water out of one, it will have

no impact on the furthest reaches of the cave.

This was all unfolding at the start of the monsoon season in

South-East Asia. It isn’t unusual for a cave to flood but the

water levels eventually go down and you can walk back out.

In this case, because of the monsoon season, the cave would

soon be almost entirely submerged and would stay that way

for eight months. There was a concern that it would soon be

impossible to dive in the cave. We thought we had a weather

window opportunity to do something. All these decisions

were being considered within a very tight timeframe.

Measurements were indicating that the levels of oxygen in the

cave were also dropping. So a series of options needed to be

disregarded because of time pressures. The only option left

was to dive them out.

The problem was, even though the cave was within my

capabilities, to teach the boys how to dive out of the cave

at a sufficient standard and quality in the time available

would have been impossible. The risk to not only them, but

us as well would have been too high. The chances of them

getting out alive were slim. The only practical idea we had

was to sedate the children. Rick and John contacted a fellow

cave diver in Australia called Dr Robert Harris who is an

anaesthetist. They asked him if he would consider sedating

the children – he said no way! With some persuading, we

got him to change his mind.

The cave diving community is quite small so it’s not unusual

for us to know someone in another profession. In this case,

some of those professions are more useful than others! If

a diver ever needs some computer coding done – I’ll be

right there!

How did the rescue unfold?

The plan was to sedate the boys and give them a full-face

mask. The four UK divers who felt capable to dive the

children out were me, John, Rick and Jason, plus Richard

and a few more divers on site to help with the extraction. The

distance was approximately one and a half kilometres from

where the boys were to the surface. Of that distance, you

are completely submerged for about fifty per cent. It would

normally take about two hours on our own. With the kids, it

would take between three and three and a half hours.

On the first day, four boys volunteered to go first in the

extraction. We dressed them in wet suits, gave them the masks

and sedated them. We held onto those boys all the way and

dived them out. Other divers were stationed along the route

and would help to resupply us with oxygen and re-sedate the

boys if necessary. We would take a boy each day until the

extraction was complete.

The boys were asleep throughout the process and don’t

remember anything. Navigating through small restrictions in

zero visibility was very challenging.

There was an incident on the final day when the guideline I

was following slipped out of my fingers. I ended up following

an electrical cable which wouldn’t have normally been there –

it was part of a previous attempt to reach the boys. I was able

to use it to find my way to the surface. At that point, my stress

levels had elevated slightly – let’s put it that way! That was my

last of four extraction journeys. I was quite happy not to go

back in the cave at that point!

When did it hit you what you had achieved?

There was tremendous relief and elation when the last boy

was out. We were conscious of what we had achieved in saving

the boys’ lives but it only dawned on me later how much of

an impact the story had on people following it around the

world. It captured the imagination of so many people. It’s now

reached a point where we take it in our stride. I’m happy to

talk about it.

What was it like to hear you were going to receive a Queen’s

Gallantry Award?

To receive the gallantry award was lovely. The list was

published in December but I hadn’t told my parents I was on

it. When the names were released, they were overjoyed. The

investiture will happen soon and will be a nice experience to

share with the family.

What’s next?

I want to get back to regular cave diving! I will use the

experience and opportunities created in Thailand to do new

and interesting expeditions. We all do this as a hobby – we

don’t necessarily train for rescue so I’ll be going back to what I

do best which is exploring caves.




OA Events




The fully–funded Mathematics and

CCF building is currently under

construction on the site of the old

shooting range. The new building will

house a new shooting range and CCF

headquarters on the lower-ground

floor and a bespoke two-storey Maths

Department on the upper and ground

floors. Given recent adverse weather

conditions, we are pleased the build is

currently on target for its opening in

early 2020.

In January, more than 300 tonnes of

concrete were laid in a continuous

pour to create the ground floor. These

images show the progress made,

including laying the foundations and

the upper floors in construction.

A time-lapse film is available to view

on the School website’s homepage,

showing the work up until February

2019, condensed down into a few


We are immensely grateful to Nick

Corfield (OA 1977) and others whose

generous support of the Building

Futures campaign has allowed this

project to go ahead.


OA Dinner

On the same evening as the City Networking Drinks,

over 5,000 miles apart, the San Francisco OA

Dinner took place. As is to be expected with an

international event, fewer OAs were in attendance but the

intimate group of seven enjoyed an evening of reminiscing

and good food! Alumni travelled from various parts of the

USA and Tony Penikett (OA 1964) even flew over from

Canada! A big thank you goes to the OAs who went to great

lengths to attend, despite California battling wildfires at

the time.

On Thursday 15th November, we hosted

the annual OA City Networking Drinks at

The Vintry, Abchurch Yard, London. This

event is always perfect for OAs looking for

job opportunities, work experience and

the chance to promote their companies. As

always, it was a very relaxed event, albeit with

a smaller attendance this year of around 50

Old Albanians. The 2019 City Networking

Drinks will again be held in November so

keep your eyes peeled for the date!

The evening was held in the private Library Room at The

University Club of San Francisco and consisted of a threecourse

dinner with drinks.

Murray Anderson (OA 1970) said; “The setting was perfect

for this unique group of individuals - a single round table

in a cosy library environment. Good food and good wine…

For me, pride of place goes to Tony Penikett who not

only travelled the furthest, but also wore his OA's blazer

throughout the evening. In general we all agreed that we

should not wait another 50 years to do this again.”

We endeavour to hold international events biennially (the

previous event being in New York), in locations which are

densely populated with OAs. Do keep an eye out if you are

living abroad because you may be our next stop!







Steve Thompson

Playwright and screenwriter, Steve Thompson (OA 1985),

returned to his alma mater to deliver a riveting presentation

and Q&A session as part of our ‘Evening with…’ series. The

event, held in the Library on 17th January, was hosted by

Danny Swanson, Drama & Head of Lower School. Steve

discussed his career to date working in film, television and

theatre, sprinkled with fascinating anecdotes from the industry.

Thompson has contributed scripts for several popular shows,

including Silk, Upstairs Downstairs, Doctor Who and the

first three seasons of Sherlock (in collaboration with Steven

Moffat). In 2016, Steve created the period drama series

Jericho, which re-imagines the building of the Ribblehead

Viaduct. Steve is currently teaming up with Frank Spotnitz,

producer of the X- Files and Man in the High Castle, to write

a new seven-part drama Leonardo about the life of Leonardo

da Vinci.

On the morning of Friday 9th November 2018,

the School held its annual Remembrance

Service in the Abbey, commemorating all

of the Servicemen and women, including those Old

Albanians, who gave their lives in the Wars.

Sunday 11th November 2018 marked the centenary

of the end of the First World War and our Service

this year was a moving and symbolic tribute to those

who fought and gave the ultimate sacrifice. The

giving of their todays for our tomorrows was the

epitome of the School’s motto: non nobis nati, born

not for ourselves.

A record number of OAs attended this Remembrance

Service and we are thankful to all of those who joined

us to commemorate this special occasion. To read in

more detail about the Remembrance Service, please

see page 4 of the School side of Versa.



Class of 2018

Thank you to the Class

of 2018 who attended

their Recent Leavers’

Drinks at The Peahen

on Monday 17th

December 2018. We had

a phenomenal turn out

of around 80 OAs who

much appreciated the

free drinks and buffet

and went on to party

afterwards! Big thanks

also go to the staff who

attended the event – the

OAs do enjoy reuniting with their former teachers as

friends. Maintaining lifelong relationships between the

OAs and School is very important to us and the Recent

Leavers’ Drinks is just the beginning for pupils leaving

the School.

The Class of 2019’s Recent Leavers’ Drinks event will be

taking place on Monday 16th December this year, so if

any former staff who taught these years are interested

in attending, then please do look out for your invitation

later in the year.

This year’s Regional Drinks event took place in the West

County – Bath. Having previously hosted events in

Durham, Nottingham, Oxford and Salisbury, to name

a few, we were looking for a popular OA spot in a different

part of the country. Bath and Bristol Universities are popular

destinations for our recent leavers and the city is home to a

number of OAs, so it made the perfect location.

The drinks took place in The Bath Brew House on Thursday

7th March. As always, we had a great turnout of younger OAs

(particularly those currently studying at the Universities of Bath

and Bristol), but we also hosted a great number of local OAs

from the area. One such OA was Chris Jewell (OA 2000) who is

renowned for his involvement in the rescue of the trapped boys

in the Thailand cave in 2018 (see more on pages 10 - 11).

We will certainly be holding another regional event next year

around the same date, but the location is yet to be decided.

These events are always a great informal meet-up and the

more, the merrier!

On Wednesday 12th December, OAs, parents and guests

attended another outstanding Carol Service in St Albans

Abbey. The Service is always our most popular event and

this year did not disappoint. The School Choir treated the

congregation to beautiful renditions of ‘Tomorrow Shall

be My Dancing Day’, ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ and

in memory of John Meulkens (OA 1935), ‘I Wonder as

I Wander’. Following the Service, guests enjoyed mulled

wine and mince pies in the Refectory. Many thanks to all

those who joined us.


Regional Drinks



16 17


Anthony Charles Covell

Hedge (OA 1952)

1934 – 2018

Obituary by Roger Seymour

(OA 1952)

Tony joined

the School in


1945. He was

a member of

the 1st XV in

Rugby and

the 1st XI

in Cricket,

as well as

being Head

of School.

St Albans School was his first step

on the rung to meritorious academic

achievement that culminated in being

awarded a State Scholarship and

Open Exhibition to Queen’s College,


When speaking about Tony in 1951,

Headmaster W.T. Marsh said, “He is

a young man of impeccable character,

pleasant personality and undoubted

ability who should go far”.

Following two years of National

Service in Canada with the Royal Air

Force, Tony returned to the U.K. to

take up his Scholarship at Cambridge

where in addition to his studies he

rowed for Queen’s College Boat Club,

taking part in ‘Bumps’ as well as

playing rugby and tennis.

Tony married Patricia in Richmond,

London in 1958. They emigrated to

Canada where Tony joined the National

Trust, holding many positions ultimately

rising to Senior Vice President.

Tony enjoyed wine and was President

of the Opimian Society of Canada; his

favoured holidays were visiting vineyards

around the world. He was an astute

investor and shared his expertise by

serving on various charitable investment

committees. Tony Hedge died 15th

June 2018 in a hospital in Calgary. He is

survived by his wife Pat, his sister Sheila

and his nephew Simon.


Carol Walker

(Former Staff)

1938 – 2019

Obituary by husband, Chris, and

sons, Tim (OA 1985), Rick (OA

1988) and Mike Walker (OA 1989)

Carol was born in Stirling in 1938 and

attended school at Bridge of Allan

before moving to a boarding school in

Yorkshire and then onto St Andrews

University where she obtained a degree

in Anatomy and Physiology. Whilst at

University she met her future husband

Chris and married in 1965. After stints

at Sheffield Royal Infirmary and The

Royal Brompton, they settled in St

Albans in 1969 raising three sons, Tim,

Rick and Mike. She joined St Albans

School as a Biology Technician in 1976

and enjoyed 22 happy years before

retiring in 1998. Following retirement,

Carol enjoyed an active life partaking in

assorted fitness activities and Scottish

dancing. Carol passed away on 10th

January 2019 following a short illness.

Jonathan Cheek

(OA 1996)

1977 – 2018

Written by widow, Kelly Cheek and

Pascal Culverhouse (OA 1996)

Affectionately known as "Bob" by all

his close OA friends, Jonathan Cheek

passed away peacefully in October 2018

from cancer. He was 40 years old.

Jonathan graduated from Leeds

University with a 2:1 in Geography and

went on to forge a successful career

in marketing that saw him hold the

position of Global Head of Digital for

Land Rover at the time of his passing.

Jonathan spent eight memorable years

as a key member of West Hampstead

Hockey Club, loved snowboarding and

golf, and is survived by his wife Kelly

and two children, Holly and Stanley.

One of the few people who was truly

content in life. A wonderful husband

and father, and general family man.

Understated and much loved. He never

wanted to be in the limelight, never

wanted a fuss made of him, but was the

centre of everything.

In a letter penned to his old School

friends, "Bob" left us with these

immortal words, in reference to his

relatively early passing:

"The most important thing I think, is

to know what is important to you and

what makes you happy and make it

your priority to pursue that as quickly

as possible in life. Because life, even if

you live to 80 or 90 is still short. The

biggest silver lining of my experience

was that it made us think about how

we really wanted to spend our time. We

moved to the country, Kelly quit her job,

we’ve spent pretty much five days a week

together as a family."

Chris Aviss

(OA 1966)

1948 – 2018

Written by daughter, Kathryn

The Aviss’ have a long history with

the sea and sailing so it’s of little

surprise Chris carried on this family

tradition by joining the merchant navy

as an engineer. Being the ambitious,

intelligent man he was (and ever

disliking authority), he studied hard

to become Chief Engineer for P&O

cruise lines traveling the globe. After

retirement, he was free to resume his

favourite pastime of off-roading. He’d

had several Land Rover Defenders

over the years; he bought a brand

new Discovery in 2014 and took that

off-roading, attracting lots of attention

from other enthusiasts!

Chris met his wife Lin in London where

their canal boats were moored up

together and he noticed her boat could

use some maintenance. We moved up to

Yorkshire in 1989.

Mike Rogers

(OA 1964)

1946 – 2019

Written by Mike Hodge (OA 1965)

Mike was at School from 1957 to 1964

and, in his time there, was a Prefect,

played cricket, hockey but most of all

Rugby. This was his passion and The

Albanian magazine (June 1964, 1st

XV report) perfectly describes Mike as

“small in stature but big in heart”. Mike

was the perpetual scrum half in his year,

part of a team which was one of the most

successful in the history of the School.

He continued playing for 15 years at the

OAs and captained a very successful

1st XV. The photograph shows his lion

hearted nature in an OA shirt.

One of Mike’s other passions was music

and he and I did quite a few guitar gigs

together. He was a very good folk singer

and guitarist. We catered for varied

audiences including sending tapes

to the Armed Forces in the Falkland

Conflict in 1982!

Mike spent his working life in

advertising and ended up running his

own successful Agency, Pesenti Rogers.

He suffered a stroke in 2009 and then

battled with cancer which eventually

took his life. As would be expected with

Mike, he fought the disease – with his

lion heart – to the end.

Mike leaves a wife, Carol, two

children, Simon and Amanda and

two grandchildren Kaya and Harvey.

He will be fondly remembered by a

great number of friends whom he met

throughout his life.

John Ottewill

(OA 1958)

1940 – 2018

Written by son, Chris Ottewill

John died peacefully at home in Dyffrn

Ardudwy, Wales, on the 12th October

2018. After leaving School, he studied

Electrical Engineering at Enfield

Technical College. This led to a job in

the control room of a ship travelling

to Aden, after which he worked for

many years in electronics largely in the

Midlands. Here he met his first wife,

Rosemary with whom he had three

children. In the eighties, John decided

on a complete career and life change,

becoming the village postmaster and

shopkeeper in the small village of

Elford, Staffordshire with his second

wife, Jacqueline, continuing to run

the shop for the next 20 years. On

retirement, he moved to West Wales

where he spent the remainder of his

time doing house and garden projects

with his last partner, Mary. The family

are grateful to Mary for the care given

to John during his illness in his final

years, allowing him to fulfil his final

wish of dying peacefully at home.

Fred Arnold

(OA 1942)

1925 – 2019

Written by Ken Garrett (OA 1942)

I am privileged to submit these few

words about a very special dedicated

sportsman and friend - Fred.

We first met in 1936 at the School,

when Fred told me that his father had

heard amusing stories of my friendship

with his relatives in the village of

Wheathampstead where I then lived – a

good start for a friendship!

We used to meet on the rugby pitch

as players in the Junior School 1st XV.

Fred a hooker and place kicker and

I as full-back. For the next six years

we played in the same team, during

which I was impressed by his play;

scoring many points by conversions

and penalties, often winning the match.

He was a stickler for the rules and

always happy to shake hands with the

opponents - win or lose.

In his last year at School, he was a

popular Head Boy. Fred was an allround

sportsman and as such, cricket

was also his forte. As Captain, he was

top of the bowling and batting averages.

Being a Redbourn boy he also played

for the village XI which he captained for

several years.

Fred is survived by two sons - not

surprisingly - cricketers! He will be

missed by countless people. With happy

memories of a very precious friend.

18 OA Lodge 19




in festival

by John Williams (OA 1964)

It’s the cloth caps you notice first: the downturned brims

and downcast eyes, no one looking up, an idle foot

rolling a pebble into the farmyard’s packed earth,

the sole of a boot aimlessly working a stone into the soil and


The photograph catches farmers, hands thrust into pockets,

calloused fingers sifting loose change from slivers of straw

while out of shot the auctioneer leans, immaculate against a

rusted plough.

Three men stand in the background, backs turned

like minor characters in a Breughel painting

as a large man leans against the wall, digging uselessly

for a match to light the cigarette hanging on his lower lip.


By Pat Taylor, Senior Master

There are no bids, no money, no one to make a deal.

All they offer is their mute support, knowing they might be next

and so look downwards, eyelines slanting into the earth.

God, it’s bleak, this jumble of men longing for better days,

overcoats over scarecrow jumpers, worn-out trousers,

boots that have seen better days, hunched shoulderblades

sharp as ploughshares, men who know the land

and know that they are spent, standing

staring earthwards at the end of days.

Based on ‘The Farm Sale’, by Chris Killip

Since early 2014, the

Masonic Province of

Hertfordshire has been

‘in Festival’, collecting for the

Royal Masonic Trust for Girls

and Boys. The Festival ends this

summer and the Old Albanian

Lodge will be one of very few

Lodges in the Province which

will have raised in excess of a

magnificent £50,000 towards

the £3million target set by our

Provincial Grand Master.

The Royal Masonic Trust for

Girls and Boys (RMTGB) was

the oldest of the four Masonic

charities prior to the creation

of the new Masonic Charitable

Foundation in 2016. The

origins of the RMTGB go back to 1788, when Chevalier

Bartholomew Ruspini and the Duchess of Cumberland

founded a school for “the daughters of distressed Masons”.

A similar provision for boys was established in 1798 but

the two charities didn’t merge to form the RMTGB until

the 1980s.

Bartholomew Ruspini was born in 1728, in Zogno, about

40 miles northeast of Milan. He was a minor member of a

patrician family originating in the ancient Italian region of

Como. Ruspini trained as a surgeon and came to London in

1759. He was then initiated into the Burning Bush Lodge in

Bristol, became a founder of the Lodge of the Nine Muses

and helped the Prince of Wales, of whom he had become a

good friend, set up the Prince of Wales’s Lodge. He achieved

the masonic rank of Grand Sword Bearer, a rank he held

until his death.

Ruspini had a willingness to help others who had suffered

misfortune. He had a desire to help the children of masons

who had died or were unable to support their families. He

did this by setting up the Royal Masonic School for Girls to

provide education to the daughters of masons.

He secured the first funding from his wealthy connections,

including the Prince of Wales and the Dukes of York and

Gloucester. Fifteen girls met at Ruspini’s house on Pall Mall

and processed to the new school, on the site of what is now

the British Library.

Ruspini soon needed further funding for his school and so

on its first anniversary he organised a church service and

a dinner at which his masonic connections were invited to

make donations. The event was called a ‘festival’ and the

collection an ‘appeal’. It raised 82 pounds, 10 shillings and 6

pence, about £9,000 in today’s values. That was freemasonry’s

first Festival Appeal and it gave birth to the festival system

which has endured for well over 200 years. By now, Ruspini

had acquired a wide reputation for benevolence and as result

he received a papal knighthood conferring the title Chevalier.

RMTGB now has a mission to relieve poverty and advance

the education of children of Masonic families and when funds

permit, support children in need from non-masonic families.

The future of the younger generation depends very much on

the quality of their education and in the case of a family with

a Masonic connection, the charity will do everything possible

to see that process complete, should a Masonic family fall on

hard times. That said, please don’t imagine that the children

supported are having their school fees found because in

the main, the beneficiaries attend their local state schools.

However, in the independent sector, support is provided if the

distress occurs once the child has already started their school

career, to maintain the stability of their education. Individual

Lodges also act independently, as was the case in the 1980s,

when the Old Albanian Lodge provided support for the

daughter of one of our members who died prematurely.

You can’t put a price on the value of a stable education!


20 OA Sports



Two New Members

Over the winter, our activities are reduced and

restricted to overseas where the weather is now

favourable. One of our members, Adrian Blackwell,

sent us this photo (right) from Spain to prove that he does

catch the occasional fish.

Now that spring is coming, we look forward to trout fishing

outings to Dorset and the Peak District, together with coarse

fishing on the Norfolk Broads. Although reduced in numbers,

we held our annual Fishwives Supper in November, which

was enjoyed by all.

OA Fishing Club

by Geoff Cannon (OA 1945)


The Club is going from strength to strength, whilst

other clubs countrywide are struggling with putting

teams out, we have consolidated and regularly put

out four senior Men’s sides each week, with a very successful

and ever-expanding Women’s side of the Club too. We are

very proud that we can offer rugby for everyone, at all levels,

whether you want to be in National 2 South like our 1st XV,

or competitive league rugby with the Romans (our 2nds)

and Gladiators (our 3rds) or social level like the Grizzlies

(our 4ths). On the Women’s side, we have a senior and junior

Saints Club at U18, U15 and U13 and finally over 900+ Minis

& Juniors…OAs cater for all.

At the time of writing this article (mid March), our 1st XV

currently sit in 6th position in National 2 South, our Romans

are in 9th position in the very competitive Zoo Sports Shield

Division 2 League and both our Gladiators & our Grizzlies

sit 2nd respectively in their Leagues, Herts Middx Merit

Table 3 and Herts Middx Merit Table 4SW. The most current

exciting news is that our Saints have just won their League,

RFU Women’s Championship South East 2 Division, with a

game to spare. They are also in the Semi Final of the Women’s

Intermediate Cup against Newbury Ladies, which takes place

at The Woollam Playing Fields on Sunday 24th March.

One of our former Saints, Sarah McKenna, is not only playing

Full Back for England Ladies in the season’s Six Nations

Women’s Championship but also helps coach our senior

and junior Women’s sides. One of our Junior Saints, Kelsey

OA Rugby Football Club

by Richard Milnes

Clifford, was selected and captained England U18s against

Scotland U18s in February. Our U17s Boys have already won

their League, as have our U15s and U14s Boys. So, a lot of

excellent rugby is being played throughout our Club. Sunday

mornings at Woollams are a joy to see, with many youngsters

from our Rugby Rats (U5s) right the way through to the U18s

enjoying this wonderful game of rugby.

As a Club, we have a history of touring and this year is no

exception, with both the Men’s and the Women’s sides going

to Bournemouth. We also welcomed two French sides to play

the Grizzlies - Olympique Marcquois Rugby from Lille and

Gars Barrus from Paris. It is a fantastic way to expand our

friendships and rugby connections further afield.

A rugby club is built on its members and a very important

aspect of this is the social side. This season, we have seen a

number of social events brought back which builds on the

‘One Club’ mentality. The annual fireworks night was a great

success as well as the Halloween and Christmas socials. We

regularly hold themed lunches which coincide with the 1st

Team playing at home. This year, we are also excited for the

return of the Old Albanian Rugby Club Ball.

With our close connection to Saracens, we regularly arrange

for our Mini and Junior sides to visit Allianz Park, where

they get to be part of the guard of honour, play on the pitch

at half-time and of course, watch Saracens play.

All in all, our Old Albanian Rugby Club is in good health.

We have had approaches from two new members, both of

whom reside far away from St Albans. They will inform us

when they are in the area and are able to attend our planned

outings. We welcome new members from all over the country

– if you would like to participate in our activities, please do

get in contact via the details on page 2.

Progression is defined as, “The process of developing

or moving gradually towards a more advanced state.”

Were the Versa reader to look for a real world example,

they need not look any further than their own Old Albanian

Football Club.

Established less than two years ago, the remarkable pace

at which the Club has not only found its feet in a league

dominated by schools who have been within the Arthurian

league for over 30 years, but to be pushing for promotion in just

their second full season, well.. (insert shocked emoticon here).

As Club Chairman Nick Jackson wrote in the Autumn 2018

issue, the OAFC had a fantastic start to their season with a

preseason victory against a combination of Aldenhamians Is

& IIs. This was a test for the team, competing against players

currently plying their trade two and three divisions above

OAFC. However, the progress in player recruitment and

tactical development paid dividends as the team won 8-4.

Progressing to the full season, the A’s started off in winning

ways, with back to back victories against opposition that had

caused them trouble in the previous year. However, playing

against a new team within the Arthurian set up, OAFC


OA Football Club

by Richard D’Rosario (OA 2012)

lost 7-1 to Kimboltonians - a disappointment to many an

Albanian I’m sure. However, whilst this was, and still remains,

the Club’s largest defeat (and by some margin), in a spirit

that can only be credited to those early years at St Albans

School, the squad showed true “bounce-back ability” against

Kimboltonians who had so convincingly won a fortnight

earlier, winning a 3-2 derby day classic - A real turning point

in the season. OAFC, going on to a three game winning streak

scoring 16 goals in the process, with arguably the highlight

of the season being a 6-1 cup demolition against a team

two divisions above them. The march from a club ‘making

progress’ to one securing points now clearly evident.

At the time of writing, the Club currently sits top of their

league, with one point from their remaining two league games

guaranteeing a playoff place and a chance at promotion.

As much excitement looms ahead of the pending clash

between OAFC and the St Albans School 1st XI on

30th March - the OA machine continues to move forward

as a home to Albanians long after School.

For those interested to join or find out more please find

contact details for the Club on page 2.




Look for more on this further on!

When I wrote for the Autumn issue in 2018, we were

poised for our season finale at Bisley against the

Old Alleynians. Expectations were high and the

stage was set for a classic result. Well, we got one of those all

right, we came second (378.25 to 381.26) so our chance to

lead the pack and extend our run of wins to six in a row came

crashing to an end. The Alleynians were surprised and of

course delighted - our congratulations go to them.

At the time of writing, we are looking at a new season at

Bisley, kicking off with a second attempt at electronic targets,

this time at 600yds. We have a full calendar of events planned;

however, this year, because of demand for range allocation,

we face fines if we have to cancel so please, check the website

( and put the event dates in your diary

in indelible ink, double underlined in red and turn up!

As predicted in September, our small-bore team in the Herts

Summer Rifle League slipped from Team 6 in Division 1 to

Team 5 in Division 2 for the 2018/19 winter league. At the

time of writing, Round 8 of 10, we have won every Round and

exceeded our entered average (378.0 ex 400) for all rounds

and cannot be overtaken. We currently lead the Division by

six clear points and by 33 on aggregate. With two rounds to

go, I have just sneaked ahead of Martin Warr (who continues

to shoot for the Herts County Team) on aggregate by three

points. However, there are still two rounds to go! Well done

all and keep up the good work. Summer 2019 Groundhog

Day here we come!

To add to the inevitable frustrations at the start of a new

season, the beginning of the winter 18/19 small-bore season

saw a problem with NSRA targets. My understanding is that

their printers changed from old analogue printing machinery

to a shiny new digital kit. Amongst other things, there were

variations in the text, the width of printed scoring rings and the

intervals between rings.

There then followed a stop on shooting while the various

parties established the extent of the errors. Printing went

A Team

AD Lewis 100 (94)

AWB Wilkie 95 (96)

N Tubby 95 (95)

SGM Brooks 93

AQS Moore 89

Total 472 6th (8th)

OA Rifle Club

by Andrew Wilkie (OA 1965)

Well done everyone. Let’s see if the improvements continue this year.

into full swing and the NSRA started an exchange scheme,

presumably financed by the printers, and all was well. The

only problem has been that delayed shooting dates effectively

doubled up the shooting load at the start of the New Year.

Last September I said I would research results of the BSSRA

Veterans Match 2017/18 as they were eluding me at the time

of writing. Well, this year’s scores are in the table below as

follows (2016/17 scores in brackets).

Of course, shooting is a frustrating sport even at the best of

times. One minute you’re up and could get bulls with both

eyes shut and a bent barrel, the next you couldn’t hit a barn

door from the inside! It’s all part of the ongoing challenge we

love so much. However, enjoyable as the challenge might be,

time inevitably starts to catch up and the team members come

to a point where their transition through a shooting career

tapers towards an end.

Mention shooting in conversation with an OA, even the

younger ones, and inevitably, Owen Simmons’ (OA 1960)

name leaps to the fore. His shooting career started in the days

of Major LG Walker as did most of those currently shooting

full-bore, meaning there is a group of characters in the Club

who have been shooting and administering Club activities

for well over fifty years! This group will need to hand over

their duties to younger shooters in the very near future or a

large part of the essence of OA shooting that we appreciate

today will vanish, potentially almost overnight. As a younger

shooter, I can recall helping out with various activities and

learning the ropes that way. Of course, the task has become

more complex over the years but the principle of learning on

the job by assisting is still valid. My suggestion, for what it is

worth, is that we actively look for tasks that stand alone such

that the assistant can do the job at their own pace. If there are

any of you who would like to offer your assistance for some

of these peripheral activities then as they say on the airlines

“Please make yourself known to the pilot”.

Good shooting to all in 2019 and see you at Bisley.

B Team

A Abrahams 96

OL Simmons 94 (94)

CM Oates 94 (93)

J Oliver 89

RN Cluff 89 (88)

Total 462 7th (10th)


for Kevin O’Donoghue

The year 2018 will be remembered by weather buffs as

containing one of the driest and warmest summers in

recent history. The OAGS enjoyed some further matches

and events during the second half of the season. Our match

against a strong Old Haberdashers side at Harpenden Common

Golf Club ended all square (same result as 2017). Historically,

we have a good record against Habs being unbeaten during the

past five seasons.

Unfortunately, the result against Old Chomeleians was quite

the reverse and we suffered a disappointing defeat. There is

something about the Highgate course that does not suit the

OAs (although, famously, a few years ago the London Schools

Foursomes Trophy was won by the OAs in competition with a

dozen participants). The Highgate course is high up and hilly

with several sloping fairways and, clearly, has an effect on our

normal precision golf.

Captain Graham Tate (OA 1960) diplomatically failed to

mention these issues in his after dinner speech and generously

praised the Old Chums for a magnificent performance and

expressed thanks for a highly enjoyable supper in the Highgate

Clubhouse. 16 members descended upon Lakeside Lodge at

the beginning of October for the annual three-day away trip.

There was great camaraderie as always and enjoyable golf with

different formats during the outing. Some interesting ten pin

bowling was the après golf activity prior to supper! Graham

The cricket season gets under way on the Saturday after

Easter, 27th April, with a couple of friendlies before the league

campaign commences. The first Saracens Herts Premier

Cricket League match is on 11th May. The first six league

fixtures in Division 1 for our 1st XI are:

OA Golf Club

by Peter Dredge (OA 1960)

OA Cricket Club

by Richard Morgan (OA 1979)

kindly presented a trophy for the winner of the individual

competition and the recipient of the Tate Trophy 2018 was

Simon Cooper with 39 Stableford points.

The final event of the season involved the competition at Mid-

Herts Golf Club for the Briggs Goblets, a four-ball better-ball

Stableford format. Two pairs scored 40 points each but, after a

count back over the final nine holes and a stewards enquiry, the

winners were declared as Kevin O’Donoghue (OA 1959) and

Rick Drakard (OA 1963) with John Cash (OA 1963) and Ross

Murray (OA 1954) being runners-up. Kevin also won the Briggs

Goblets in 2017, so this victory represents a remarkable double.

Captain Graham Tate has retired after two successful years as

OAGS Captain. As well as presenting the above mentioned

trophy, Graham has attended all our fixtures and matches and

played some excellent golf. All members wish to record their

thanks to Graham for his valued contribution to the well-being

and continuity of the Society. Peter Dredge (OA 1960) will be

the new Captain for the 2019 season.

Looking ahead, details of the 2019 programme will be

forwarded to members by Kevin O’Donoghue who has kindly

taken on the role of Hon. Sec.

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

asked to contact Kevin O’Donoghue via the details on page 2.


11th May: Harpenden II Home

18th May: Preston Away

25th May: Knebworth Park Home

1st June: Kings Langley Away

8th June: Ickleford Home

15th June: Langleybury Away

This summer sees some new management coming into the

Club. David Goodier is the new Chairman and Simon Bates

is Director of Cricket. If anyone is interested in playing for

one of our four Saturday league sides you should contact

Simon at

or on 07720 383600.

On Sunday 23rd June, what is becoming the annual OACC

Legends Day, will be held at Wollam Playing Fields - when the

team with that moniker, featuring many of our veteran players

of yesteryear, will play the Hertfordshire Lord's Taverners. The

game is preceded by a lunch for Vice Presidents, sponsors,

Taverners and players. Information on the day can be obtained

from Richard Morgan via the contact details on page 2.

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