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UK OD Dinner

Founded 17 years before Bishops, The Carlton Club, social home to the Conservative Party felt like it had been specially built for an OD Dinner. On 1 July 94 ODs and their guests assembled for the an elegant, lively (and noisy, of course) black-tie dinner, hosted by Raymond Ackerman (S, 1948), the President of the ODU. Our guest of honour and main speaker was Guy Pearson, Principal of Bishops. We were delighted to welcome College Council Chairman, Mike Bosman (O, 1978) Robert and Sally-Jayne Murray, as well as Michael and Claudia Coombs and Greg Brown. Robert (S, 1968) is the OD Secretary for Scotland; Michael the UK Secretary to the RBHS Old Boys' Association and Greg is the Headmaster of the Bishops Prep.

In particular, we welcomed - and thanked - Anthony Record, MBE (S, 1956) and Carole Record. It was through Anthony's membership of the Club that we were able to avail ourselves of the opulent yet relaxed facilities. We are further indebted to Anthony for the very generous donation of the wines for the evening; and what fine wines they were too, coming from his very own vineyard, Domaine Gayda, in the Languedoc.

The evening was in three parts: pre-dinner drinks in the aptly-named Cad's Corner, the dinner itself in the Churchill Room and then the "after-party" (or at least the first one) in the Drawing Room. The entire evening was managed impeccably by James Gardener (W, 1974) our superb MC for the night whose relaxed authority and witty repartee kept the evening on track and some (potentially) wayward ODs in check.

The date of our dinner also marked, to the day, the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme. So appropriately, the dinner opened by remembering the 18 ODs who were killed in that terrible conflict. James Gardener read out the names and ODs and guests stood and paused for a minute's silence to honour their sacrifice.

That was followed by a message from Bruce Jack (G, 1987) the newly-appointed ODU Chairman who was unable to make the dinner.

The Reverend Peter Macan (F, 1954) said the Grace:
For food in a world where many walk in hunger;
for faith in a world where many walk in fear;
for friends in a world where many walk alone;
we give you thanks, O Lord. Amen.

James Gardner then read a poem on Bishops, Nine o' Clock Match by his father, John Gardener (the poem is posted at the end of this blog) and bid everyone bon appetit but not before asking ODs and guests to take a minute to share amongst themselves one or two special memories of the School.

Louis Spencer (F, 2012) proposed the Toast to Bishops recalling very humorously and articulately one or two anecdotes which exemplified the positive and lasting influence the School had had on him.

Guy Pearson, in his speech after dinner, dealt with the huge changes which Bishops is undergoing and the challenges of the transforming South African and global educational landscape. Notwithstanding these, Bishops is still able to educate boys capable of getting into the best universities in the world and who score in the top decile of South African matriculants. Added to the School's success in the classrooms, Bishops boasts 22 cultural societies and, unique among its peers, the School Eisteddfod which encourages even the most reluctant of creative talents of every single boy in the School. 27 different sports are on offer making it very easy for most to run, but for none to hide. Guy outlined his vision for the next five years and referred to the revitalisation of the Bishops Trust, the School's fundraising arm, which has set itself a stretch fundraising target to fund a range of exciting and differentiating capital projects and bursaries. In short, he said, while not easy sailing, Bishops is in good health and the future looks bright.

In reply, Raymond Ackerman thanked Guy for the leadership he has provided and continues to provide the School, and thanked too Mike Bosman and the entire Staff and Council.

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