ROMY’S BRUSH WITH FAME
ON SET WITH MIKE NEWELL
MATHEMATICS & CCF
Thai cave rescue
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
St Albans School
St Albans School Foundation | CHARITY NO. 1092932
OA Saints Chairperson
RIFLE & PISTOL
01727 861622 / 01582 792512
Alumni Relations &
Alumni Relations &
Alumni Relations & Development
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
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
St Albans Abbey / St Albans School / School Pavilion at The Woollam
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
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.
Tel: 01727 515187
St Albans School, Abbey Gateway, St Albans, AL3 4HB
OA PRESIDENT’S NOTES
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
LEFT TO RIGHT: PETER KNAPP (OA 1965),
WILLIAM DAVIS (CEO, A-T SOCIETY),
MIKE HODGE (OA PRESIDENT)
PHOTO BY: TROUBADOR PUBLISHING
ROMY (LEFT) ON THE SET OF PORTRAIT
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
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
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.
ROBIN (LEFT) MEETING THE QUEEN
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!
ROBIN MEETS HER MAJESTY
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
BRUCE AND GEORGE IN NEW YORK CITY
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
PHOTO BY: PAYLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
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 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!
ON SET WITH MIKE NEWELL
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
PHOTO BY: GREG WILLIAMS FOR COMIC RELIEF
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
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)
- 2 YEARS’ SUPPORT
£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).
PLEASE SUPPORT THE ST ALBANS SCHOOL BURSARY FUND:
MAKING A SINGLE GIFT
I would like to make a single gift of
- 5 YEARS’ SUPPORT
£1,240 net per month,
for 5 years (60 months)
Name on card:
- 7 YEARS’ SUPPORT
£1,240 net per month,
for 7 years (84 months)
Sue Gregory writes...
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org,
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!
RECOGNISING YOUR GIFT
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.
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
Please debit my:
Visa / Delta MasterCard UK Maestro
Card number :
Start Date / Issue No. (if applicable)
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
MATHEMATICS AND CCF BUILDING
OA CITY NETWORKING
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
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.
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
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 (LEFT) AND
DANNY SWANSON (RIGHT)
AN EVENING WITH…
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
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 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.
Anthony Charles Covell
Hedge (OA 1952)
1934 – 2018
Obituary by Roger Seymour
the School in
1945. He was
a member of
the 1st XV in
the 1st XI
as well as
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
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
THE OLD ALBANIAN LODGE
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
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.
PHOTO CREDIT CHRIS KILLIP
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
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!
RUSPINI, LEADING THE PUPILS INTO THE GRAND LODGE
20 OA Sports
THE CLUB REELS IN
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
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
(www.oashooting.com) 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
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.
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.
NEW SEASON, NEW MANAGEMENT
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 email@example.com
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.