Category: Reunions (page 2 of 2)

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.


2005 – 97th OSA Reunion and Dinner Report

The imminent launch of a new appeal to bolster the War Memorial Fund, a major reunion to be held at Shebbear in May and a call for former pupils to return more frequently to their old school put the OSA firmly in focus at the 2005 Reunion Dinner held at the RAF Club in Piccadilly in January.

It was fitting that the occasion attracted an impressive 94 members and guests, including many of the younger generation and more old girls than ever before. Opinion was that it was one of the best reunions in recent years.

The warmest of welcomes was accorded to Lady Vane (Daphne Page, daughter of the much-loved late Jackson Page, boy and master at the school for more than 40 years). Daphne was only the second girl to attend Shebbear.

She was presented with an OSA tie which she said she would be privileged to wear. Old Shebbearians stood in silence in memory of those known to have died during the past year – Phyllis Johnson, widow of former headmaster Leslie Johnson, John Comyn, Roy Annis, Horace Moore, Peter Allin, Sam Winzer and Peter Smoldon.

Grace was said by the Rev. Geoffrey Wrayford.

Proposing the toast to Shebbear, President Mike Johns said that on his visits to school he had always been received with warmth and friendliness, proving that old habits remained.

He had attended a staff and sixth form variety evening in March which had ranged from “serious music to flouncy Greek farce”, Speech Day in July and the BBC’s Any Questions? programme from the Sports’ Hall in the Autumn.

He recalled how in response to a question on the Hunting with Hounds issue, the Secretary of the Police Federation had said that police resources would be stretched when the Bill became law.

Yet, he chided, the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary had managed to send 35 police constables, two Inspectors, four Special Branch officers and some private security guards to Shebbear “and even they could not stop us delaying Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter, from getting into his car!”

The Holly Ball in December had been an excellent and incredible evening.

He urged all Old Shebbearians to encourage others to attend OSA meetings and reunions.

Responding Bob Barnes, Headmaster, said it was a great privilege to be at the dinner once again. “My fifth such occasion – and it gives me just as much pleasure this time as it did on the first. There are 94 of us here tonight – a record for this venue. There are more girls than ever before, and looking around I have actually taught four and a half tables of Shebbearians”

He said that in the past he had spoken of “the Spirit of Shebbear”. The spirit was strong and still growing. “As we have got stronger and stronger over the last few years, so we have taken the opportunity to develop the college.

“Academically results remain good – they always will. I do not believe in league tables so I am not going to quote facts and figures to you because they do not tell you what the individual has achieved or how the individual leaves college not just with a piece of paper but everything else that has been bestowed on them by attending Shebbear.”

“When they leave they do so with a sense of what is right and wrong, with character and with a sense of self worth which is worth more.

“And that is a great credit to all. We have a big team. Not just teachers, but secretarial, bursarial staff, the kitchen, cleaning and ground staff, The Friends, Old Shebbearians – everyone who contributes. All of us are working together to produce something that brings us back and makes this reunion grow. You can’t always put that down on paper but you can always feel it.”
He said pupils were interested in the OSA, interested in its history, “interested in you as a group and interested in meeting every one of you as individuals if you were to come to the college.”

The school’s biggest task was to try to instil its pupils with inquiring minds. “An inquisitive mind is essentially what we are trying to build into all our pupils, not just on their academics but about life in general, to ask the question ‘why?’ all the time.” Examination results were good, continually good, but that was not the only aim. “Financially, the college has gone through a revolution. I can report to you that for the second year in succession we have been the best school in the Methodist group. Financially we are the strongest. Now that is something to be really proud of because we are doing it at a time when we are spending the most money in the group on refurbishment.

“That gives me great pleasure because it is about providing the best facilities for all our pupils that should be the essential goal of each and every one of us in this room and at college.

“This year we have put in a recording studio, we have built an extension to the junior school which has an up-to-date IT suite upstairs and new changing facilities downstairs.

“And for those at the older end for whom the quad was a focal point during your career at Shebbear, we have replaced all the windows in the quad with double glazing and in keeping with the originals and we will be doing the surface of the quad later on in the year.

“We are refurbishing the tennis courts and in particular have been working on the boarding houses which are now becoming more and more plush. Carpets, heating that works and breakfast that runs up to 12 o clock on Saturday and Sunday …” when silence returned to the assembly, Mr Barnes went on: “We do realise its important to get away from Shebbear, to see a wider world, so this year we have run more sports and other trips than ever before. We have been on a ski trip to France with 43 pupils, we have been on football and netball tours to Holland, we have been on art trips to Paris, we have been on french activity trips, and we are planning rugby and netball tours to Canada next year.

“And like my predecessor we are desperately trying to get the name of Shebbear into the wider area of the country. Any Questions? was very successful. We got lots of positive comment from all over. We are also bringing international stars to college. Kevin Montgomery, an up and coming country singer from America has been and is coming back again.

“But what pleases me most of all is that having been calling for Old Shebbearians to come down and visit this year Mike Heath is organising a reunion that will bring old boys back. They will be provided with accommodation over the May half-term. It is good to see the link because we do not see enough Old Shebbearians coming back. You cannot be allowed to remain away from the college. You need to keep contact with us.”

The toast to the OSA was proposed by Imogen Giddy, Head Girl, and Rob Wade, Head Boy.

Replying Mike Heath, said he could not believe that it was 40 years since he and his contemporaries were their age but “my lot, our crew, our 1958-65 group” were having a reunion at Shebbear on May 28.

“Finding old contemporaries around the world, often with the Internet, is so rewarding. They light up like light bulbs and are delighted to have been contacted. They are on board and up for the reunion.

“One of the things that my lot got wrong was losing touch with each other and the school. And the school lost touch with us. And as we search for lost friends, we have been dismayed to find that too many have already died, all far too young. What a pity we were not in touch when we could have been. We got it wrong.”

Former President and Trustee of the War Memorial Fund, David Shorney announced that Holly Thomas, studying pharmacy at Bath University, was the recipient of this year’s award. Appropriately, he called upon Lady Vane, whose late husband Sir John Vane was one of Britain’s most distinguished pharmacologists and a winner of a Nobel Prize for Medicine, to make the presentation. Then he outlined plans to launch a new appeal for the War Memorial Fund, founded in the depths of the 1924 recession to commemorate the 48 Old Boys killed in the 1914-18 War.

The aim would be to provide an annual scholarship or scholarships to augment those already funded by the school, to enable deserving pupils to continue their sixth form education.

Members approved the election of four new trustees: Bill Oke, Geoff Watts, the Rev. Geoffrey Wrayford and Dr Graeme Ackland, Professor of Physics at Edinburgh University, who with a double first from Oxford is one of Shebbear’s most outstanding former pupils.

With that Michael Buckingham was elected President of the OSA for 2005 and Simon Birks, Vice President. The committee was approved en bloc.


2004 – 96th OSA Reunion and Dinner Report

Mirus Bilis! Shebbear has reintroduced Latin. After how many years? Nobody seems to know. Furthermore, two verses of the school song are sung every Friday morning. In Latin, of course.

The subject is not exactly on the curriculum but is available as a spare-time activity, along with German. Old boys who struggled with the fifth declension await to hear how many take up the opportunity.

Good news, also, from the sports’ fields – the Ist XV managed to see off Plymouth College, Blundells, Grenville and Kelly College in the winter term. At the same time, the girls’ netball team had one of their most successful seasons.

No wonder then that Headmaster Bob Barnes was in an upbeat mood at the 97th OSA reunion dinner at the RAF Club in Piccadilly on January 24, helped, no doubt, that at last his new house is taking shape on the Lake Chapel side of Beckley field.

His toast to the association set the tone for a good-humoured and even exuberant reunion with a splendid meal of venison and numbers totalling 77.

It was good to note that there were more younger members attending than ever before, among them a good showing of old girls.

There was even a memory test for the “ancients”. Keith Arnold brought up a school photograph dating from 1938.

So what of the school in its 163rd year of existence?

Bob Barnes answered the question as he replied to the President’s toast to the school: Shebbear College, he said, was very much going forward, both academically and financially.

“Last year was best financially in 14 years. Now we can actually reinvest in its infrastructure to make it the best small independent school in the south west.” That reinvestment was going into teaching resources, into computers – not just for the computer and business studies’ centre – but one for every room in the school and into the new 6th form centre.

Academically, more than 70% of pupils sitting last year’s GCSE examinations had achieved five passes or more ranging from A* to C.

That put Shebbear into the top 20% of schools in the United Kingdom.

There had been a change in routine. Now morning service in chapel took place before morning break. “And if pupils don’t sing – they don’t get a break!” he added. The school stressed moral values and standards.

“Shebbear College is working flat out to ensure that when pupils leave they are fully prepared to face and play their part in the modern world; that they are independent and able to speak up for themselves.

“We at Shebbear work tremendously hard to achieve that because we have hopes for our pupils.”

The school had had an outstanding year with regard to music and drama. Violinist and pianist Rebecca Betambeau had been appointed leader of the North Devon Youth Orchestra.

At the centenary celebrations in London of the 14 schools in the Methodist group, Shebbear had been the smallest school taking part but had contributed the most. “Some schools were more than six times as big as us.”

He went on: “As a collective the college is in very good heart compared to how it was when I first arrived. Wherever you go people speak very highly of its pupils, their academic excellence and their moral fibre.”

Over recent years £750,000 had been invested in the infrastructure. All this had come out of revenue – “making us the envy of schools in the west”.

“Shebbear is easily the most successful school in the Methodist group.” President David Shorney, proposing the toast, said he had enjoyed his year of office immensely, especially his visits to Shebbear in the summer.

He recalled his father’s time as a teacher at college and said there was always a danger that some might confuse father with son but instead he had been flattered at being recognised by people he had not seen for fifty years.

There had been a Shebbear boy called into the RAF in 1948 who was summoned to see his Commanding Office. He marched in with some trepidation. “Rodney – how nice to see you,” said the CO.

It was Old Shebbearians Alfred Earle, later to become Sir Alfred Earle, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff. “Being recognised can be a good thing,” he added.

He was grateful to Shebbear for having made so many differences to his life. It had fostered his love of music and singing, books and radio which, in that remote school, had been the only link with the outside world.

The toast to the OSA was jointly and charmingly proposed by Cara Hyman, Head Girl, and Greg Barnes, Head Boy, and responded to by Paul Sanders.

Then came the award of the War Memorial Scholarship. Charles Verney reminded guests that the award owed its origins to the work Lt Col Walter Parkes, H.E.Down and John Rounsefell.

Their aim had been to establish a fund in memory of the many Old Shebbearians who gave their lives in two world wars to provide a grant to help old pupils in higher education.

This time the recipient was Debbie Kinsey, of Winkleigh, who had achieved four A grades in her A-levels and was now reading Political Science at York University. The evening drew to a close but not before Lt Col Michael Johns JP was elected as President for 2004, Michael Buckingham as vice-President and the committee en masse.

2003 – 95th OSA Reunion and Dinner Report

25 January 2003

Back at its old home at the RAF Club in Piccadilly on one of the warmest January nights on record, the OSA’s 95th annual reunion dinner attracted a splendid total of 81 members and guests, only slightly down on last year. Bob Barnes was making his first appearance as Headmaster, only the eighty Shebbear’s history. But for Bill Lyddon, a pupil from 1939-41, this was his 50th consecutive reunion.

Each was roundly applauded.

These were not the only significant happenings. The news that the first marriage between Old Shebbearians was imminent brought a stunned silence – followed by an audible sigh of relief that they were, in fact, boy and girl. The announcement that the OSA is to have a permanent, Devon-based vice-president was warmly welcomed. Michael Down, who has played a prominent part in the Friends of Shebbear College, will fulfil that role and seek to get more younger members involved in the association.

And for the first time one of the school’s valued Hong Kong contingent, Ms Micky Kong, was awarded the OSA Memorial Prize. She exceeded expectations in her A-levels to gain a place at Hull University. Such a pity that the college’s only nationally recognised sportsman, jockey Steve Drowne, could not attend. He was deservedly holidaying in America after notching up his 100th winner in a season on the flat. Members and guests stood in silence as the names of Old Boys who had died during the year were read out.

Then to the business of the night, beginning with presentations of Dartington glass to two former members of staff, Brian Pocock and Jim Scott, who retired after long service in 2001.

Proposing the toast to the school, President Geoff Watts outlined his busy year of office, highlighting the Summer Ball, the Leavers’ Service, Speech Day, the reception in Bideford to mark Paul Mason’s retirement, Leslie Clarke’s retirement party in November and the Holly Ball in December. The year had brought back “bitter sweet memories” of his time as a boy at Shebbear to which he gone as a “bucky new snip” in 1952. He said the school remained a magnet, drawing its old pupils back, Bucky new snip! How the memories flooded back – but would he recall the three great end-of-term Sundays, odd sock, buttonhole and kick-the-door? Alas, not this time.

Replying, Bob Barnes said he stood before the gathering both sad and proud. Sad that he had to report the deaths of Gordon Angrave, who had done so much to restore the beauty of the college grounds, and John Blainey, Head of Information Technology, who had died in his sleep on January 1. Proud that 13 years after arriving as head of Physical Education and Games, “hard work had brought him the headship of Shebbear College”. The year had seen a a number of retirements – Paul Mason after 30s years of working tirelessly and with total dedication, Marianne Ogbourne, who had been on the domestic staff for 20 years, and Pauline Cann of the catering staff who must have prepared a million meals and cooked five million potatoes. And, of course, there was Leslie Clarke, who in his five years as headmaster had totally transformed Shebbear’s fortunes. “His doggedness and his endeavours did not make him popular, but he came at a time when he was needed.”

The school was in very good heart and going forward. The aim was to make Shebbear the very best of small schools and it continue to instil in its pupils the importance of honesty, self-reliance and good manners. Plans for the future included expansion of the Junior School, thereby adding to a foundation that would ensure the college’s existence for another 160 years and beyond.

He congratulated Oliver Wickett on being names Devon Young Cricketer of the Year and also thanked the Friends of Shebbear College for raising £4,000 for school funds.

The toast to the OSA was proposed for the first time in a “duet” by Head Girl Penny Rowe and Head Boy Oliver Wickett. They claimed that the head had been so concerned about what they might say that he had “momentarily gone in denial”. It was, apparently, Ms Rowe who had most to say, for your reporter has only two words written in his notebook – netball and needlework. Replying Martin Butler said he had been warned that he would be shot if he spoke for more than three minutes. Six minutes later he was still telling how he had left with one O-level in 1980 but was now the deputy head master of a school in Essex.

The Shebbear experience, which provided more than an education, had given him the will to achieve.

With that Ted Lott proposed David Shorney, son of the later and much-loved master Dick Shorney, as President for 2003. David was truly a Shebbear boy, having started his education at the village school in 1936 and who had followed the Old Shebbearians tradition of giving selflessly to others.

His deputy and President for 2004 will be Lt.Col. Michael Johns. Proposer Bill Oke said he had had not only a distinguished military career but was someone who gave valuable service to the community.

2001 – 93rd OSA Reunion and Dinner Report

27 January 2001

held at

The RAF Club, Piccadilly, London

The President: Harry Aspey (1954-60)
The Headmaster: Leslie Clark
Mrs Alice Kingsnorth
Miss Sarah Kingsnorth
Rev. Dr. Malcolm White (Chaplain: 1971-75)
Vice-Chairman The Friends: Mr David Hale
Secretary The Friends: Mrs Jane Down
The School Captain: Andrew Uglow

C. Vernay (1936-41)
W.E. Lyddon (1939-41)
K. Arnold (1937-41)
D. Shorney (1938-43)
D. Verney (1939-43)
G.W. Shellard
A.G. Andrews (1939-45)
A. Hawken (1941-45)
A.E. Lott (1942-47)
H.C. James(1942-47)
J. Forster (1945-48)
R.W.Horrell (1946-53)
J.C. Ruckes (1949-54)
D.W. Haley (1951-56)
G.L. Watts (1952-56)
C.I.R. White (1952-56)
P.T. Webb (1952-57)
J.F.W. Oke (1952-59)
P. Gartrell (1957-62)
C. Blencowe (1961-68)
M.A. Buckingham (1967-72)
W.M. Down (1968-73)
S. Birks (1968-75)
N. Blencowe (1968-75)
P. Collins (1970-77)
C. Gooding (1970-77)
D. Littlejohn (1970-78)
J. Williams (1974-80)
C. Steel (1977-80)
J. Duncan (1977-82)
K. Stewart (1977-82)
S. Stewart (1978-84)
R. Brommell (1979-82)
D. Williams (1980-85)
P. Jeffries (1981-84)
R.W. Harwood (1983-86)
P. Meadley-Roberts (1986-91)
P. Lockyer (1988-95)
R. Edmondson (19?-97)
D. Smith (1989-97)
W. Blencowe (1989-98)
Rebecca Smith (1994-98)
Kimberley Oram (1994-98)
R. Turner (1992-99)
J. Marshall (1992-99)
W. van Rensberg (1996-99)

Apologies for Absence:
Mr J. Scott, Mr and Mrs T. Danby, Mr Dick West, Mr S. Malore, Mr P. Mason and C.K. Barrett, D. Pugsley, M.J. Tucker, R.L. Thomas, J.S. Symons, T. Gilbert, M.J. Ibbetson, B. Bowley, P. Sanders, R. Bickles, B. Inniss, K. Hall, J. Ware, W.A.R Coombe, E.F. Oliver, C. Inniss, C. Hodson, W.A. Batten, E.D.K. Coombe, R.J. Heard, M. Creedy, R.S. Knapman, G.T. Gooding, M.W. Beck, J. Hancock, M.A. Searle, D.F. Marshall, P. Whatley, J. Dunster, P. Littlewood, D. Richards, B.A.M. Jones, N. Giddy, C.N. Phillips, N. Laws, R. Davies.

1883 – 1st Reunion and Dinner Report


An extract from

The Bible Christian Magazine,

for the year 1883,
being a continuation of the

Arminian Magazine.


DEAR MR. EDITOR, knowing that your readers take a deep interest in the College at Shebbear and all connected with it, I send you a few notes of a recent gathering.

Mr. Ruddle, the head master, has of late years felt the necessity of creating some bond of union between the many pupils who from time to time leave Shebbear for London. To more than one he has said he should feel a double zest in preparing boys for Government, commercial and other examinations, if he knew that when they came to London there would be friendly hands to keep them in the path of purity and honour. To give effect to his views a dinner was held in the Council Room, Exeter Hall, Strand, on Thursday, January 11th. Forty-six friends assembled. The chair was taken by my father, supported on the right by Mr. Ruddle, and on the left by the Rev. F. W. Bourne. The position of vice-chairman was occupied by Mr. S. Heywood, the Rev. J. Martin being seated on his right hand, and Mr. Hillier on his left. Letters of sympathy were read from Messrs. J. Barnden A. Thomas, C. M. Brumfit, and R. Bridges. The following telegram had been received from Mr. A. Bickle, St. Leonards: –

“The oldest Shebbear boy sends greetings to the younger Shebbear boys and wishes them all a very happy new year.”

The secretary reported that there were 60 gentlemen in London, who had spent a portion of their time at Shebbear; of this number 30 were present, a result which he thought all would agree with him in saying was most encouraging. After the royal toasts, Mr. S. Heywood proposed that of “the Christian Churches of our land.” After speaking of the pleasure he felt in giving his sympathy and support to the movement which it was proposed to inaugurate he referred to the great advantages enjoyed by the youth of to-day, and their consequent greater responsibility. The Rev. F. W. Bourne responded in a catholic and liberal speech. The Rev. I. B. Vanstone proposed the toast of “prosperity to the College and its governor;” he briefly traced its history up to the present time. The names of past head-masters served as links in the chain of events. The list of governors was not such a tax upon the speaker’s memory, being much shorter – Messers. J. Thorne R. Blackmore, and J. Gammon. Three short phrases, continued Mr. Vanstone, sum up my opinion of the present governor of the College, strict integrity clear perception, and exhaustless energy. In the absence of his father Mr. F. T. Gammon ably responded. The chairman then called upon Dr. Baker to propose the toast of the head-master, T. Ruddle, Esq., B.A. With a few remarks that evidently expressed the deepest conviction of his heart, Dr. Baker spoke of the good that had resulted to all who had passed happy months or years in the society of their former tutor and present friend. Mr. Ruddle then rose amid deafening cheers. When quietness had been regained he spoke of his gratitude to all present for their kind words and, reception. Clearly and briefly he sketched out the sequence of his thoughts in relation to the proposed “union,” referring to the vast amount of evil prevalent in all great cities, and especially in this the greatest city of the world, and to the danger consequent thereupon to all young men coming to London almost friendless and unknown. This danger had been more than ever brought under his notice lately. Can anything, asked the speaker, be done to save our Shebbear boys from so great a danger? If the temptation cannot entirely be taken out of their path, may it not be minimised? The desirability of the formation of a brotherhood was then dwelt upon, the speaker concluding his earnest remarks by saying that he hoped the motto of the new society would be;-

” A clean hand and a pure heart! ”

At the invitation of Mr. Ruddle, all present heartily joined in wishing every success to the ex-pupils of Shebbear School. Owing to the applause, some moments elapsed before Mr. W. B. Luke could rise to respond to the toast so kindly and ably proposed by Mr. Ruddle. I much regret, Mr. Editor, that it is not within my power to furnish you with a verbatim report of the speech which it was then our privilege hear; but since I cannot do this it would be vain for me to give anything like a correct representation of it from memory, for it would require a penman as able as the speaker himself to give a fair outline of such an appropriate and eloquent address. Mr. Tonkin followed with a speech full of practical suggestions. After Messrs. 0. K. Hobbs, S. Moore, and R. Ashton had spoken, Mr. Ruddle rose and proposed that the new society should be christened;-

“The James Thorne Club.”

It was proposed by the Rev. J. Martin, and seconded by Mr. N. Braund, that the present head-master should be the first president. The chairman asked the meeting to form a committee. Fifteen names were proposed and approved. After thanks to the chairman we disperse, about eleven, after having spent a pleasant evening.

With every good wish Mr. Editor, – I am, yours sincerely,

Hon. Sec. of the Old Boys’ Re-union Committee


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