84th AGM of the OP Society held in London

The 84th AGM of the Old Pangbournian Society was held at 6.00pm on 17th October, 2017 at the Naval Club, 38 Hill Street, London W1J 5NS. The AGM was followed by a Committee meeting and by a reception afterwards in the club library. About 40 OPs attended.


The retiring chairman of the Society, Merrick Rayner (68-73), opened proceedings by terming 2016-17 “a quite stunning year” and describing the long list of College centenary-related events that OPs had taken part in. By one estimate, well over 500 OPs had appeared at one or other reunion and more than a dozen OP-specific events had been held around the world.


In his Chairman’s Report on the state of the OP Society, Merrick thanked all those in the Society and at the College “for their support and camaraderie” during his four-year term as chairman. He added that alumni organisations such as the OPS “cannot afford to stand still and dwell on the past” and hoped that the varied programme of events and initiatives for all ages such as the regular email newsletter with links to the OP website which have characterised his time in office would be continued.


On behalf of the Society, he presented a framed photo of HM The Queen at the College this summer to Thomas Garnier by way of thanks for all the support he had received from the Headmaster, and a second framed photo to Karen Hartshorn for the work she and her team in the Development Office undertook in the centenary year for OPs.


Both the Treasurer, Pip Smitham (64-69), and the Hon. Secretary, Rupert Meacher (87-90), stood down from the Committee as did Fergus Van Niekerk (93-00). David Nicholson (64-68) was elected the new Chairman of the OPS and Anna Sterling (00-01) was elected the new Hon. Secretary. A new Treasurer has yet to be found. Charlie Parry (81-85), Paul Lawrence (01-08) and Pip Smitham all agreed to serve on the Committee on an ex officio basis for a further 12 months.


Two new Honorary OPs were elected – Karen Hartshorn; and Ann Hessey (nee Medway) who worked at the NCP 1957-62 and has remained a keen supporter of the school ever since. Three new members of the Committee were elected: William Skinner (82-87) who now has two children at the College; Claire Morphy (nee Whitehead; 90-92), a vet in Whitchurch who was one of the first two girls to attend Pangbourne; and Andrew Scott-Priestley (58-62) who worked with the incoming chairman and is one of three brothers to have gone to the College.


At the Committee meeting which followed the AGM, reports were given by the Headmaster, the Chairman of the Board of Governors and the OPS Treasurer. Forthcoming social events were highlighted including the final OP centenary event in Chicago on October 27/28, the annual Over-60s lunch at the Turf Club November 21, and the gala weekend planned in Edinburgh on the RY Britannia on June 29/30, 2018. An update was given on OP Sports.  Communications issues involving the OP website and the OP Magazine were discussed; it was revealed by Mike Nicholson (57-61) that there are now 333 OPs tweeting. More than 600 OPs belong to the OP group on LinkedIn.


Various amendments to the rules of the OP Society concerning Honorary Membership, Finance and the make-up of the Committee were proposed and passed by the meeting. Specifically, it was agreed that no person may hold office in the OPS for more than six years. Colonel James Greaves (90-95) was elected to liaise with the new OP Military Alumni group on behalf of the OPS Committee.


A number of relevant facts and figures about OPs were given by Karen Hartshorn in her presentation. Of an estimated 6,000 living OPs, the Society has some sort of contact details for 67% – a great improvement over the last two years. There are now 500 female OPs. The OP data base now includes careers-related information on one-third of the 4,000 or so listed. Seven in ten OPs live in the UK; the largest overseas contingents today are in Australia, New Zealand and the USA.


In conclusion, the President of the OP Society, Richard Shuttleworth (57-62),  the Chairman of the Board of Governors, Roger Lane-Nott (58-63), and the Headmaster Thomas Garnier collectively presented a silver Armada dish to Merrick Rayner by way of  thanks for his unstinting and selfless work for the Society and the College during the last four years.