Old Shebbearians' Association

The organisation supporting, and connecting, the former students of Shebbear College, Shebbear, Beaworthy, Devon

Category: Reunions (page 1 of 2)

2018 – 110th OSA Reunion Dinner Report

Once again this year there was an excellent attendance of more than ninety Old Shebbearians at the annual Reunion Dinner held at the RAF Club in London.

Guests Ian Burnett, recently retired history and English teacher, and Claire Cardoo, long serving maths teacher, were there to hear the words of the association’s first female President, Kay Giddy.

Kay thanked the committee for their support throughout her year in office and went on to say how much she had enjoyed attending a number of events back at College, not least Speech Day when she took to the stage with another Old Shebbearian, Paul Lockyer.

The main thrust of her speech however, was to promote and explain the importance of the OSA Scholarship Fund, which is in need of ongoing support and is, at the moment, helping four pupils through the 6 th Form at Shebbear.

Kay finished with a plea for more females to take an active role in the OSA reminding everyone that the College is fully co-ed and has been for a number of years.

Headmaster Simon Weale then responded on behalf of the school, giving an extremely positive report on the numerous successes, both on the sports field and in the classroom and thoroughly endorsing Kay’s comments when referring to the success of the girls’ hockey and netball teams and, of course, for the benefit of a certain OS, a reminder that the 1 st XV had beaten West Buckland for the second year running.

Head boy, Jabez Weale and head girl, Heather Mathews then gave their view of the last twelve months – Jabez wondering whether, given recent results, we might get to play the whole of Buckland this year, rather than just West!

Finally, Lydia Scambler, a relatively recent leaver, responded on behalf of the association, and commented on how lucky she had been to attend the College and the importance of the association in helping her to keep in touch with her contemporaries.

Andy Bryan

2017 – 109th OSA Reunion Dinner Report

Eighty Old Shebbearians gathered at the RAF Club in London on Saturday 14th January for their annual Reunion Dinner and President Paul Lockyer said he was proud to have served the association, even though he had not attended as many events as he would have liked.

He went on to explain that the annual subscription paid by the members helped to support such diverse activities as Ten Tors, Engineering courses, overseas sports scholarships and the 5th and 6th Form Proms.

Headmaster, Simon Weale, then gave an extremely positive and typically humorous report on the past year, highlighting excellent results for both 1st XV rugby and 1st XI girls’ hockey over West Buckland and then head girl, Lucy Taylor and head boy, Harry Dymond spoke about their new 6th Form Centre and the Music Centre as well as thanking the OSA for the new first team netball kit.

Chris Hale responded on behalf of the OSA, reflecting on his time at the College, before most retired to the bar to share more of their memories of college life.

Finally, the association’s first female President, Kay Giddy, said she was very much looking forward to her year in office.

Andy Bryan



2016 – 108th OSA Reunion Dinner Report

The 108th Reunion Dinner proved to be a great success as more than 100 Shebbearians attended and enjoyed an evening of good company and entertaining speeches.

Apart from the headmaster, Simon Weale and his wife, Rebecca, the guests included the recently retired Head of Boarding, Lin Quirk, Head of Music, Kevin Parker and a Shebbearian still very much involved in the life of the college, Ted Lott.

Numbers were cIMG_6493ertainly boosted this year by the attendance of a group of more than twenty Shebbearians who attended the college in the 1970s and, as the pictures show, they certainly seemed to enjoy their evening.





President, Andrew Friend, said that he had very much enjoyed his year in office and felt that much stronger links had been forged between the OSA and school in recent times.

Simon Weale endorsed Andrew’s views and thanked him for his work during his year as President and then went on to give a most favourable report on the school in what had been, at times, a difficult year. He looked forward to developing even more the link between the OSA and college.

After the Head Boy, Ross Bennett and Head Girl, Abby Selwyn had given their speech, Paul Lockyer was given the President’s chain and KayGiddy accepted her nomination as Vice-President for 2016.

108th OSA Reunion Dinner

The President Andrew Friend requests the pleasure of your company at the 108th Annual Reunion Dinner of the Old Shebbearians’ Association to be held on Saturday 16th January 2016 at the R.A.F Club, 6pm for 7pm.

Special guests this year will be Kevin Parker and Lin Quirk.

2015 – 107th OSA Reunion Dinner Report

There was a smaller turnout for the Annual Dinner this year, with just 74 attending what was still a most enjoyable evening at the R.A.F. Club. The meal and the service provided were of the usual high standard throughout the evening and it was particularly pleasing to see at least half a dozen recent Head Boys in attendance.

The President, Michael Tucker, spoke of his time as a boarder at Shebbear, in what were far more spartan conditions than exist nowadays. He also commented on how much he had enjoyed his time in office, affording him the opportunity to visit the college on a number of occasions which included the Rounsfell Dinner, Speech Day and the OSA cricket match.

Simon Weale then gave a highly entertaining report on the school – mentioning the fact that the college had so far resisted the instalment of wind turbines, but had welcomed the arrival of both the biomass plants and solar panels, which were already helping to cut energy costs considerably. He also commented on the strength and importance of sport at Shebbear, and in particular the girls’ sport – quite appropriately, given that the guest this year was, Serena Ham, the Head of Girls’ Games.

Head Boy, George Daniel, and Head Girl, Katie Trask then spoke eloquently, reiterating the headmaster’s comments about the thriving sport at the college and recognising the importance of occasions such as the Reunion Dinner.

It was then the time for Michael Tucker to hand over the President’s chain of office to Andrew Friend, who received it gladly and said how much he was looking forward to the year ahead, in which he hoped to further develop the links between the OSA and the college.

After dinner, it was good to see so many retiring to the bar to continue their conversations and catch up with old friends.

2014 – 106th OSA Reunion Dinner Report

The 106th Reunion Dinner proved to be a fantastic success as 118 Old Shebbearians and guests enjoyed an evening of good food, excellent speeches and lively conversation.

This was the first dinner attended by the new headmaster, Simon Weale with his wife Rebecca, and his amusing speech, tempered with some serious points about the future role of the OSA, clearly made a favourable impression on all those from a range of Shebbearian generations.

James Hancock, the outgoing President, spoke of the honour he felt at having been able to hold the position and said that he had thoroughly enjoyed his year which had enabled him to return to college on a number of occasions for a variety of events.

Michael Tucker then took the chair as the incoming President and said that he too was looking forward to his time in office.

As well as the head boy, Julius Gemmel, and head girl, Ellen Chamberlain, Matt Newitt (Head of 6th Form) and Karen Purdew were the guests and they said how much they enjoyed the occasion, catching up with some they had taught, as well as meeting others who had attended the college long before they arrived as teachers.

It was particularly pleasing to see so many relatively recent leavers at the dinner and a healthy number of female Shebbearians amongst them.

2013 – 105th OSA Reunion Dinner Report

More than 80 Old Shebbearians attended this year’s dinner at the RAF Club where, as well as being served an excellent meal, they took the opportunity to catch up with old friends.

The President, Lester Bird, spoke of the success of the various events of the year, particularly the Michaelmas Ball in September which saw 350 parents, staff and old Shebbearians gather under canvas for a splendid night of music, food and drink. He then thanked Bob Barnes for his tremendous service to the college and there followed the first of numerous standing ovations for the headmaster.

2013 OSA President Jim Hancock

2013 OSA President Jim Hancock

Bob Barnes then reported on another very successful year for the college, both academically and in extra-curricular activities and said he was grateful for the continued support of the association.

The officers were duly elected and Mark Creedy, a former President, was elected to replace the retiring David Shorney as treasurer of the War Memorial Trust Fund. Mark thanked David for his outstanding work over a number of years in building up the Fund to its present state.

James Hancock, the incoming President, and Mike Tucker, Vice President, spoke briefly of the honour of being elected and assured those present that they would do their job to the best of their ability. James added his thanks to Lester for his hard work on organizing such a successful event and said that he hoped to be able to continue forging stronger links between the college and the association.

2008 – 100th OSA Reunion and Dinner Report

Descendants of headmasters who shaped Shebbear were among guests of honour at the Old Shebbearians’ Association Centenary reunion dinner in London on Saturday, January 26, 2008.

They included Professor Jennifer Tann, great granddaughter of Thomas Ruddle (1864-1909) Mrs Julia Howell, great niece of John Rounsefell (1909-1933) and Ms Patricia Johnson, daughter of Leslie Johnson (1933-42).

Also there were Mrs Alice Kingsnorth, widow of George Kingsnorth (1964-83) Russell Buley (1983-1997) and his wife, and Leslie Clark (1997-2002) and his wife. All were given a rousing reception.

Best wishes were received from Mrs Gwenda Wyllie in Western Australia, great, great, great granddaughter of the Rev. William Kelly (1847-1855).

The association was saddened to hear that Brian Thorne, another invited guest and a descendant of the school’s founders, had died at the age of 72 shortly before Christmas.

A record number of almost 150 former pupils, spanning the years from 1936 to the present, and guests attended the event at the RAF Club in Piccadilly. Among four most recent Old Shebbearians present was last year’s head boy, Josef Schmalfuss, who is a student at Cambridge University.

The most disappointed Old Boy was Graham Moore, who left in 1997. He caught a plane from Washington on the day in question – only for it to be diverted to Shannon in Ireland with a technical fault.

Air Commodore Chris Blencowe, President of the OSA and now Bursar of Pembroke College, Cambridge, was in the chair. He was a pupil at Shebbear in the 1960s.

Responding to the President’s toast to Shebbear College, current headmaster Mr Robert Barnes, who attended with his wife Jo, said the school came through two rigorous inspections last year with flying colours and had retained its position as the most successful of all the Methodist residential schools in the United Kingdom.

He congratulated the OSA on reaching its centenary and said the association and the achievements of former pupils were an inspiration to the college’s 338 pupils, the highest number ever.

The toast to the OSA  was proposed jointly by Candy Lai, Head Girl, and seconded by Tristan Brown, Head Boy.

Norman Venner was elected President for 2008 and Paul Sanders, vice-President.

A second reunion for Old Shebbearians and partners will be held at Shebbear on Saturday, August 30. Full details will appear on the website.

Footnote: A full report of the Centenary Dinner with pictures and a list of those who attended will appear in the 2009 edition of the Shebbearian.


2007 – 99th OSA Reunion and Dinner Report

More than 100 Old Shebbearians were at the annual reunion dinner to take part in a piece of OSA history – the unanimous election of the first female Treasurer.

It was entirely appropriate. There was only one table on which old girls were not represented. Out of 104 old boys and girls present at the RAF Club, Piccadilly, on January 20, plus nine guests, many were of the fairer sex and some three-quarters of everyone attending were at Shebbear from 1993 onwards.

The event also saw Bill Lyddon, who left in 1941, attend his 53rd reunion and Tony Barnfather, who left in 1964 his first, but then he does live in Calgary, Canada.

Headmaster Bob Barnes, attending his seventh dinner, applauded the “positive and youthful” attendance and with tongue firmly in cheek contrasted the “attractiveness of the ladies and the ugliness of the men”.

Emily Trace became the first female officer of the Association 99 years after its foundation. Like her Old Shebbearian father and sister, she went on to Cambridge University. Afterwards, she qualified as a forensic accountant and now practises in London.

Outlining his year in office and proposing the toast to the school, barrister Simon Birks, President, said that on a visit to Shebbear, he had actually managed to learn something.

This, however, concerned the anatomy and habits of a wombat and your reporter hesitates about using the details here.

But he did set a quiz, including the questions: name two teachers who had helped you? three friends who had helped during a difficult time and five people with whom you enjoyed spending time?

Finally: why did you take an interest in the OSA?

The answers to all led back to the school, “so that is why I ask you to stand and drink a toast to Shebbear College.”

Responding, Mr Barnes said this was the sixth occasion he had attended the reunion as headmaster – and it still gave him “phenomenal amount of pleasure” to be among friends. “Each year is a privilege.”

He contrasted the struggles and uncertainties of the 1990s with the thriving nature of the school now. “These are good times at Shebbear.”

“This is the first year that I have not had to worry about numbers, when I have not had to look over my shoulder in fear of financial gloom. Financially we are as strong as we have ever been.”

This had enabled a huge of money to be spent over the past year, including the provision of a new sixth form centre, a new library and a “sumptuous” new staff room.

Pollard House had been refurbished with new bedroom furniture and bathrooms throughout. .

Approval had been given for a new Astro turf sports’ facility. The Sports’ Hall would have a new roof fitted during the Easter holidays.

This year’s GCSE results had been the best for 20 years with 90 percent of pupils achieving five A Star passes.

“In the League Tables of Independent Schools – and we are not selective, I refuse to be – this put us level with West Buckland School, which is extremely selective.

“That gave us enormous pride. They are selective, we are not – yet we still achieved the same academic results.”

In September 2005, Shebbear had started the academic year with 272 pupils.

“This September, we started with 319. This is an indication that we must be doing something right in that we are meeting pupils’ and parents’ needs, not just in the local community but from far and wide, because the number of our boarders has now grown to one hundred.

“But does all this mean that we are successful? Every year I come here to tell that we try to foster the values and ethos that has been in existence since the school began. That recognises and respects differences and tolerates differences and instils in pupils a willingness to learn and be inquisitive.”

He said Shebbear was devising another five-year plan to take the school forward. Questionnaires had gone out to parents “and I would love to be able to send questionnaires out to you, to see what was good and what was bad from your memory and thereby eradicate the bad and improve the good.”

“At Shebbear we endeavour to continually look at ourselves and re-evaluate to make sure we offer the best in education, not just educationally, but socially, in sports, in drama and in every area and facet of school life.”

The toast to the school was as now is the custom presented in a charming duet by Claire Ashworth, Head Girl, and Josef Schmmalfuss, Head Boy. Was there a mention of the new sixth form centre, of some alcohol and the occasional sweepstake? Your reporter closed his ears to such heresy!

But what would Geoffrey Wrayford say in reply?

It was that his affection for the school  had been influenced by his headmaster Jack Morris who, even when he was dying, sent small mementoes to his former pupils.

Morris in turn had been influenced by Thor Coade, Headmaster of Bryanston, founded in the1928, where he had been a Housemaster for 15 years.

Coade’s theorem was that education existed to introduce children to a wider and deeper experience. Jack had done just that.

It was left to Mike Johns to propose Chris Blencowe as President for 2007 and Norman Venner as vice-President. Charles Verney seconded.

Harry Aspey, proposed Emily Trace as the OSA’s first female Treasurer, after first thanking Michael Buckingham for his years of service which had left the association with reserves equalling those of a “small banana republic”.
Emily, he said, would bring not just a well-trained mind but, more importantly, youth to the OSA Committee.

The formal part of the evening ended, but the party went on in the long-suffering RAF Club bar. Next year is the 100th reunion/dinner. We look forward to it.


2006 – 98th OSA Reunion and Dinner Report

Another excellent year for the school, with numbers of both day pupils and boarders rising and the governors releasing a million pounds from income to pay for more improvements.

That was the central message from headmaster Bob Barnes at the annual reunion dinner of the Old Shebbearians Association held at the RAF Club in Piccadilly, London, on January 21.

He said the school roll stood at 280 – a 10 year high – and by Easter should be at least 285 which would be the highest for 14 years.

Furthermore , the number of boarders had risen to 90, thereby bucking a national trend against boarding.

There would be 47 candidates sitting the entrance examination at the school for Year Seven and five for Year Nine. Another candidate would be taking the examination in Bali. Tuis was the highest number of candidates for Shebbear since 1990.

“It is a reflection on how well the school is doing. Our reputation locally and wider is getting greater and greater,” said Mr Barnes. “Indeed, this year at Shebbear we have pupils from France, Germany, Spain, Canada and Hong Kong. We have even had an application from Azerbaijan and interest also from the United States and Australia. It is warming to know that we being looked at globally as well as on a local scale.”

If the news from the headmaster was good, then the attendance at the 98th consecutive annual dinner was just as heartening. A total of 103 guests and Old Shebbearians -more than half of recent vintage and many old girls – attended.

Grace was said by the Rev. Geoffrey Wrayford and the assembly stood in silence to remember Old Shebbearians who had died since the last gathering. The now customary toast to absent friends was made.

Continuing with his reply to the toast to the school, proposed by President Michael Buckingham, Mr Barnes reported a truly unique event – the arrival of the first true, all Shebbearian – a baby born to former pupils Michael Carpenter and Charlotte Brady, who had married after leaving Shebbear.

Another new arrival was the first full-time Chaplain for eight years. The Rev. Oluyemisi Jaiyesimi, from Nigeria, was doing a remarkable job.

And what of the improvements to the fabric of the school?

The Pollard House had been totally refurbished. Double glazing was being installed in most of the bedrooms.

“And,” he said, “This is really going to hurt. We are spending money on new bedroom furniture as well! Perhaps , he suggested, constant hot water and a central heating system that worked marked the end of the character-building cold of yesteryear and was producing a “real bunch of softies?”

Old Shebbearians, old and young, roared their agreement.

There were other improvements: the kindergarten had been redeveloped, the refurbishment of the science block would be completed by Easter, new desks and chairs had been purchased for most classrooms and interactive whiteboards would be standard throughout the school.

Shebbear was also seeking to improve links with the village. A joint venture scheme was going ahead to put a synthetic turf pitch on Dartmoor field.

More thought was going on to try to improve links with the local community to provide joint facilities

“Compared to other schools, we are now one of the most sound, forward looking schools in the area. There is a lot to be proud of in that.”

Shebbear added value to education and that made it a leader in the market place. The school had come a long way through difficult times. “We are a business as well as an educational institution – never lose sight of that.”

He congratulated Mike Heath and John Harding on organising the 40 years on reunion at Shebbear in May.

“There were a lot of them. They enjoyed staying in a girls’ house (it was half-term) They liked the cushions, the smell of perfume and the messages left in lipstick on the mirrors!

“The group, from Canada, from Tasmania, from far away in |Britain,. was fantastic. Such a sense of fun, whether walking around the college, in the village pub, the church, walking around the Triangle.

“I would suggest we do this more often. If you are passing please drop in to see us. The school is changing and needs you to reaffirm the links between the school and the Old Shebbearians.”

The toast to Shebbear was proposed jointly by Emily Cooper, Head Girl, and Jack Warner, Head Boy. Mike Heath, responding, reiterated his thanks to the Headmaster and the school for the warm hospitality he and his 40-years-on group had received during the May reunion.

War Memorial Fund

Then, former President David Shorney was called on to make the War Memorial Fund award. Before doing so, he outlined the history of the fund and called on Old Shebbearians to support it.

“It has been said that Shebbear is a very special place and that was no more so than 80 years ago when Old Shebbearians got together to found the fund six years after the end of the First World War.

“Those who founded it themselves found it very difficult to come to terms with the fact that 48 of their number were no longer with them because they had died in France or Gallipoli or one or other of the war zones of the first major conflict of the 20th Century. They wondered how they could honour the memory of the men who died and for whom they felt a great affection – their friends.

“They collected £1,000 or thereabouts which in present day values was the equivalent of £100,000.

“I think that one of the reasons why they did it was because Shebbear up to 1914 was a pacifist school. It had two headmasters who were pacifists who had been brought up to abhor war. I doubt whether half a dozen Shebbearians went into the armed services between 1841 and 1914. And yet when war came they volunteered in their scores, their hundreds, because they believed it was a cause worth fighting for. Many paid the price.

“So for Shebbear the losses of that war meant more than for most other schools which had strong military traditions.

“During the last year we have tried to augment the fund. Five years ago at the annual reunion we decided to change the fund’s remit to award scholarships to boys and girls at Shebbear. An appeal was launched in June. We have had a very generous response but until we get a 100% response we will not be able to award scholarships.

“Although there are many who can afford to keep their sons and daughters at Shebbear, there are some who cannot and find themselves having to withdraw their children before they have completed their education. We would like to ensure that this never happens in the future.

“But only you and your friends can do that. I appeal to you tonight for no-one to leave this room without filling in a standing order form.

“The Head has already talked about cementing links between the school and old pupils. One of the best ways to do that would be to support the fund year in and year out so that we can make a major contribution to Shebbear in the years ahead. “

He said it was hoped the first scholarship would be awarded in September, 2007.

This year’s award to a former pupil in higher education was made to Rebecca Betambeau who is studying music at Birmingham Conservatoire – someone “who has enchanted us year after year by her music at speech days”.

With that it was left only for His Honour Judge David Pugsley to propose Simon Birks as President for 2006; Chris Blencowe, vice-President, and the re-election of David Haley, Secretary; Michael Buckingham, Treasurer, and the committee en bloc.


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