We are well into December already and at Windlesham everything has of course moved into overdrive for the final countdown which is the last few days of a Christmas term. ‘West Side Story’ played to packed houses last weekend and rightly to huge acclaim too – there were some very mature performances. This week we have enjoyed the wonderful annual delight of the Christmas Carol Services, which have been as magical as ever. We are now ready for the final ‘action-packed’ All-in Weekend with inter-house matches and the Boarders Dinner and then all the Christmas partying will really be under way!
Taking the drama theme on further, Patrick Cavendish was thrilled to have featured recently in ‘Eastenders’ and I note that former ‘Taggart’ and ‘Corrie’ star, John Michie, is now playing a consultant surgeon CEO in ‘Holby City.’ John also appeared the other day in Caitlin Moran’s weekly ‘Celebrity Watch’ article in the Times, where he spoke of his terrors at the prospect of death by leopard, ‘the worst death you can have.’!
There was also an interesting spread in the Sunday Times about the public school background to many of the nation’s up and coming actors and it was remarkable to note that Windlesham had a triple hit, with Tamzin Merchant, Gabriella Wilde (formerly Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe) mentioned, as well as Tom Hiddleston who was with us for a short time. ‘They have been schooled to believe they will achieve’ said the article. Reference was made to ‘Game of Thrones’ and so it was surprising that there was no mention of Alfie Allen, another alumnus! They and the school are indebted to the inspiration of former drama staff like Peter Nixon and Nikki Dunsford and the present strong thespian ethos that still remains as healthy as ever.
There are several alumni with great events to celebrate. Davina Boyle, living in Hong Kong, has announced her engagement to Christopher Knight. They are to be married in Midhurst in February. Caz McKenzie-Hill has also just announced her engagement to Freddie James of Orford, Lincolnshire. Matti Wicken and his wife Kelley, currently living in Melbourne, are thrilled to have a second child, Alfie, a brother for Grace. Also Caroline (nee Hollywood) and Luke Tayler are delighted to announce the birth of daughter Emma Peggy, born on 9th November, weighing 7lbs.
It was lovely to hear from Cara Kernon, who wrote of her immense pride at Windlesham being given such glowing references during a recent junior assembly at Bryanston. The Bry chaplain had been visiting WHS the previous week and was not only hugely impressed by the school, but was also ‘blown away’ by the amazing singing during the Chapel service in which he took part.
Talking of services, a local friend was in Lancashire for a funeral recently and, after the service she was given a lift by ‘a lovely young man.’ On getting into conversation about Sussex, the man spoke of his prep school being near to Storrington and he then proceeded to talk in very warm fashion about his experiences at and fond memories of Windlesham. This person finally identified himself as Mark Holden, scarcely heard of since he left here in the 70s! If anyone knows of him or his whereabouts, it would be lovely to hear much more!
It is always good to renew contact with alumni of whatever vintage, something which is very happily a daily occurrence at Windlesham. In this context it has been wonderful to catch up on news from Edward Greenwood, who is still involved in EFL work, and after time in Denmark and Indonesia he is now in Spain. He is also working semi-professionally as a photographer. It was great too that Harry Staight dropped in last week when he visited with Anna Bromley-Martin, mother of Alexandra and Olivia, who was here to talk to the Scholarship group. He brought news of not only his family, but also of Alex MacCaw who has apparently managed his IT businesses so successfully that he has virtually been able to retire at the age of 23 – where did I go wrong!
Both Alice Hues (nee Glover) and Adam Simkins have also been in touch recently, as has Peter Eyres, now living in Brighton, and it will be great to be able to show him and his wife around ‘the old place’ sometime in the New Year. Any other takers for a trip down Memory Lane – do please remember that you only have to ask.
As I ‘go to press’ the very sad news has broken of the death of Nelson Mandela, a world leader of immeasurable magnitude. The school has several staff with South African connections and we join with them in mourning the loss of such a truly remarkable human being, a man of outstanding courage, compassion and integrity, who has led a nation and the world through many of its recent dramas. We give thanks for the shining example that he has set for today’s young people, both black and white, a legacy that will survive for many generations to come.