Centenary Founders’ Day surpasses expectations
Centenary Founders’ Day at the College surpassed expectation in glorious sunshine on Saturday (8 July). The entire College community came together in large numbers for the special occasion and enjoyed the opportunity to dress colourfully. Gentleman, even, sported dashing hats to protect themselves from the stunning sky overhead.
The Marching Band led the opening Founders’ Day Parade on a packed Parade Ground in the morning at the beginning of ceremonies. Led confidently by Drum Major Sasha Pokrovskaya and this year under popular Bandmaster Mr Jeremy Clack – it mixed the traditional with the contemporary in a wonderfully revamped repertoire which entertained the crowds including an elegantly fun rendition of the modern classic Happy by Pharrell Williams.
Prize giving took place in a specially-constructed Centenary Marquee. Chairman of Governors Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott – who earlier had taken Parade – spoke first. He told the seated audience on the Devitt Lawn setting: “Wow – isn’t this amazing? What a year it has been! I do not think the College could have had a better Centenary.”
Headmaster Thomas Garnier spoke next and told the audience: “It certainly has been a year to remember. I have been thrilled that all the Centenary events we have held have exceeded expectations. As we stand on the threshold of the next 100 years, I am genuinely excited by the possibilities.”
Mr Garnier’s speech included thanks to leaving staff members and a special presentation of a ship’s decanter, engraved with the College’s Flag Values, to outgoing Bursar Ron Obbard, who held the post for 15 years from 2002-17.
Guest of Honour for the day was Professor Bart McGettrick. In a memorable and emotive speech, he said: “Governments are obsessed with measured outcomes in education, but an educated person is a person who holds out their hands to others. The Pangbourne College Flag Values summarise those ideas.”
He underlined that hope, love and justice are the ‘real gifts’ of education and urged people gathered to remember the roses that bloom in December – late bloomers and ended by saying: “The University of Glasgow, where I am from, talks about raising people to distinction. That is what Pangbourne College does – raises people to distinction.”
Adds Ian Williams (61-63): “My wife Doh and I attended the Centenary Founders’ Day. It was great to see so many OPs there. Lots of innovation on show – swimming pool plans were confirmed, the prize giving involved pupils and the whole procedure was very well planned and executed.
[Robin Bradley 54-58]
[On Big Side for the T20 cricket]
[Chairman-designate of the OP Society David Nicholson]
The Chairman of the Board, OP Roger Lane-Nott, took the parade and the Headmaster congratulated him at the prize giving at his success in having lost so much weight in such a short time to enable him to get back into his uniform – which brought a wry smile from Roger! The Guest of Honour, Professor Bart McGettrick OBE KGCHS of Glasgow University, is the inspiration behind the College’s “Flag Values” which have proved such a success. He spoke very well too.
At lunch, we met Felicity Mullins. Those who were in Auckland will almost certainly remember the two Mullins boys who had flown in from Queensland in search of any of their father’s contemporaries who might have been there. Dad was Chris Mullins 55-58 who served in the Merchant Navy and died in Australia in 2012. Apparently, Felicity has six grandchildren, three of whom are in the UK with her youngest son David – all either attending or about to attend Pangbourne and living at the end of the old Prince’s Drive! Quite a story. ”
Mike Matthews (54-59): Reflects on the Centenary Founders’ Day.
A group of six with links to the Fifties decade attended Founders’ Day at the College on 8 July. Three of us – Edward Pratt, Robin Bradley and myself – had all been Cadets of that era whereas Ann Hessey (née Medway) had worked as a Secretary in the Bursar’s Office and so knew most of the names if not the faces. Judy Bradley and my wife Delphine made up our numbers. The only other contemporaries we spotted were Richard Shuttleworth, Robin Paine, John Whaley and Mike Nicholson.
[Robin Paine 55-59]
On arrival, armed with picnics, we headed for Big Side with its impressive new Hudson pavilion. By this time the main formalities of the day such as the Morning Parade and Prize Giving had happened. The College v OP Cricket Match was getting underway while we despatched our victuals. We were joined for an hour by Lionel Stephens (‘Steve’), now aged 91, who had come in specially from Goring to meet with us. He remembers us all so vividly.
[Steve on Big Side, FD 2017]
The Falklands Memorial Chapel was the first port of call on our nostalgic cruise around the College after lunch. We sat in on the start of the Concert before nosing our way behind scenes to view the Falklands Campaign artefacts and memorials to some of the key staff members of our era (Harry Sykes and Cdr. John Mornement). A short passage across the Parade Ground to Devitt House took us into the fascinating, recently-created display area on the ground floor where we encountered, amongst others, the Headmaster and the College’s current Artist in Residence.
From Devitt, we coasted down the hill into the 1950s Study Area: a tantalising mix of the familiar, the face-lifted and the new. After that we poked our noses into Drake Hall (why was it called that?) all set up for the evening’s grand end-of-term dinner dance. Then we tacked our way back up to the Parade Ground, thankful for the thoughtful cold water station en route, and found some chairs from which to watch the Guard and Band perform Beat Retreat. What an amazingly choreographed performance they gave! How nobody collided, collapsed or dropped their musket I really don’t know. Our final memory of the day was the collection of caps wafted aloft by champagne bubbles as the leavers let fly.
As an OP, it is refreshing to pay a return visit to the College. It gives every indication of being a ‘happy ship’ with a talented and spirited ship’s company of cadets.
*Editor’s note: Drake Hall was constructed in 1923-24 out of materials taken from an old munitions factory in Newbury. Why it was called Drake is unclear.
During the day OP involvement was well to the fore. On Big Side Chairman of the OP Society Merrick Rayner (68-73) presented OP ties and broaches to eight new Honorary OPs– Jacqui Waller – Head of Key Stage 3 and Teacher of Maths; Jane Davies – Teacher of Modern Foreign Languages; Dr. Clare Harraway – Teacher of English; Dr. Beth Reynaert – Teacher of Chemistry and Academic Manager; Viv Richardson – Teacher of Biology; Will Ogilvie-Jones – Teacher of Design Technology and Dunbar Housemaster; Robert Kirby – Head of Modern Foreign Languages; Philip Bates – Teacher of Modern Foreign Languages and Charity Coordinator.
[Dr. Beth Reynaert]
At prize-giving awards linked to OPs or the OP Society were also conferred. The Marcus Graham (31-35) Art Prize was awarded to Charlotte Crawford, the Ambrose White (30-35) Prize jointly to Iain Bruce and Lily Preace, the Chris Mullins (55-58) prize to Lily Grundy, and the Keith Evans (33-37) prize awarded to a Form 3 pupil showing the greatest potential for teamwork and leadership to Dan Carpenter. A new prize, the Nigel Hollebone (59-63) Centenary Prize awarded to the pupil in Form 5 who demonstrates most clearly the characteristics of a Good Citizen, was won by Sophie Harrop. The Old Pangbournian Prize awarded to the outstanding scholar in the U6 went to Becky Crossley.
Marcus Graham was Chairman of the Board of Governors 1968-78 and oversaw the Nautical College’s evolution into Pangbourne College in 1969. Cdr. Ambrose White was Chairman of the OP Society 1973-78 as was Nigel Hollebone 2012-15 and for 25 years a governor. Chris Mullins, who died in 2012, has a grandchild at the College. Cdr. Keith Evans RN has claims to be the oldest living OP.
Her Majesty The Queen’s Gold Medals for 2016-17 had already been announced and awarded to the Joint Chiefs, Ellen White and Frederick Taucher, during Her Majesty’s visit to the College on May 9th.