I am writing this Blog immediately following the school’s observance today, November 11th, of the two minutes silence in Chapel. It was as usual a very moving occasion as we recalled the alumni who gave their lives in the two World Wars, exactly 100 in number. Yesterday evening we had gathered too for the Sunday service at which the preacher was Rev Andrew Haviland, chaplain at Bryanston. His visit was also an opportunity for him to recall his grandfather, who was for a time Chaplain at Windlesham, and his uncle and cousin, both Windlesham alumni, the cousin having giving his life aboard the HMS Devonshire in April 1942. It was a delight to see Olivia Stocker at the service, accompanying her youngest sister.
The Stocker’s African links take my mind back to the visit we had just before Half Term. For a second time the John Wesley Community Centre musicians from South Africa came to Windlesham to give some exhilarating concerts and it was a particular joy that they were able to join the school choir as we once again celebrated Harvest Festival at beautiful Warminghurst Church. It was good to have several alumni with us for the service and there is a lovely report on the church’s website.
Over Half Term the African theme continued during Richard Foster’s visit to Kenya – he was doing a bit of groundwork prior to taking some Ones there on a charity trip next summer. The Windlesham network moved into overdrive as he bumped into Tory Macdonald who was holidaying in the Masai Mara. A couple of days later he was accosted by Alex Martin and Lizzie Bouwens who were also visiting the game reserve as part of a trip which included seeing Lizzie’s brother George at Gilgil, near Richard’s former school Pembroke House.
Meanwhile on the Monday of Half Term Rachel and I had a marvellous lunch at the Beard-run pub in Tillington, the Horse Guards, with Suzy Lion, mother of Alex, Georgie and Rupert. In a true piece of Windlesham serendipity we met most of the Steyning medical practice, past and present, who were also lunching there. These included several doctors who have looked after school pupils down the years, such as Alec Frank, Richard Boger and Eric Noren. And then outside, as we went our separate ways, we found Lottie Knight, Richard Foster’s PA, scurrying around making final preparations for her daughter’s wedding at the weekend.
During that week I also had my final session of the season guiding at Parham House and it was wonderful to see a current pupil on a return visit – she had so enjoyed one earlier in the year that she had decided to bring her parents and brother to show them around. Back at school, her report on what she had discovered won her a Headmaster’s Commendation!
Life has been busy here since the return and there was a marvellous day of golf organised by Jane Denman at The Berkshire. Alumni were there in large numbers as well as former parents and former staff including Philip Lough; the event was won by the Blockley family! That Tuesday evening alumnus Dr Nick Clarke came to speak with the Scholars group and gave a very well-received talk on ‘Coping with Stress.’
It has been really good to hear recently from Duncan Goodhew, who has been in touch about his recent venture, Limelight Sports, the sports agency of the year, who specialise in high profile grass roots sports events. It was therefore wonderfully appropriate to receive news the following day from Flo Margaroli who has ‘swum the Channel ‘ – well 21 miles, which to be precise was completed by swimming 1344 lengths of the Lancing College pool, fundraising for an African charity trip. Another who has been involved in an exciting venture is Rhiannon Templeman-Horton, who has just taken part in Britain’s Got Talent – sadly she did not progress further, but it was quite an experience for her.
Recent alumni visitors have included author Michael Wright who came to talk with the Ones about embarking on a career in writing – it was good to hear that Alice and all the family are well. Classic car enthusiast Jocelyn Martin also visited the school, hugely enjoying his trip down Memory Lane, which included not only a mandatory tour, but, most importantly in his view, the opportunity to see some of Hal Randall’s photos! Sacha Metherall visited as prospective parent last week and it has been good to welcome Ben Hardyment’s sons for a taster day.
Former Little Windlesham teacher, Sioban Stone, is another who has been thrilled to visit recently and catch up with her many friends; since her return from Istanbul, she is now living in mid-Wales. Needless to say, Bonfire Night also saw alumni thronging back in large numbers and happily the rain gods played fair, ultimately enabling the proceedings to go ahead spectacularly well.
The Announcement columns have been very active recently and we have spotted Olivia Mitchell announcing her engagement to Benedict Clibborn of Bangui. One that nearly slipped through unnoticed was Ed Sterck announcing his engagement to Sam Orozco in August, with wedding plans suggesting a date possibly next September. Thirdly, Sophie Garnier’s engagement to Ralph Dundas of Appin, Argyll has been a much more recent announcement. Then a few days ago on November 2nd, Laura Cameron married Richard Kennedy, in her words ‘changing one politician’s name for another’!
The maternity wings have been busy too as Lucy Sterck and her partner Paul’s second son Joshua George, a brother for Jack, was born on October 20th, weighing 8lbs 1oz. Tom Barwell and his wife Louise now have a daughter, Anouk, a sister for Inigo. Lily Sandland (nee Grey) and husband Simon now have a baby daughter, Delphie Rose, a sister for brother Arthur. And we must not forget there have been lately two Staff babies – Polly (nee Birkill) and Andy Nuttall have a little boy, Alfie, and Mark and Claire Duncan have another daughter, Elodie. That now leaves just Simon and Lucy Hallam to go this term!
However, perhaps the most poignant event since I last wrote has been the installation of the bench to celebrate the life of Richard Copithorne, who died in July. This has been placed in the corner of the Walled Garden, a lovely spot that overlooks the garden, but which also has delightful views back to the school. There was a very low-key gathering last week in which Richard Foster and Rachel and I were all privileged to share, when a glass was raised to a very dear young man and the toast was to ‘Richard and all that Windlesham meant to him.’