It was a joy to receive such an amazingly enthusiastic response to the ‘school in snow’ photo that accompanied my last Blog. We have fortunately been spared anything like that (Jan 2010) so far this winter, but it seems to have scarcely stopped raining for weeks. Imagine, therefore, the frustration of those on site when there was a major break in the water supply mid-holiday!
The term had ended very happily with a large number of former staff and pupils attending the Carol Services. This enabled colleagues to catch up on news and a particular delight was that it also meant we were able to have supper afterwards with Philip and Christine Lough, as well as Leonard and Ruth Robinson. They are all very content in their ‘new’ retirement, as it gives them the scope to spend so much more time with their families.
Marvellously, a few days later we had a chance encounter with Louise Benzimra, whom we met as we shopped in our local Waitrose. She is now working with social services, but is also taking the opportunity to train as a psychotherapist. Equally thrilling was seeing Hattie Garlick featuring on the front page of the Sunday Times News Review on December 15th, and reading an article entitled ‘A year without baubles’ about her efforts to steer clear of all the consumer pressure that is so much a part of bringing up children these days.
Serendipity (my favourite word) struck again when Alice Rickard saw one of Alice Colling’s photographs in a Marie Curie Carol Concert programme, with the original striking photo forming part of the raffle! And in other news it was a joy to hear that Pierro Niel-Mee has joined the RSC in Stratford, where he is currently appearing at the Swan Theatre and receiving very good reviews for his role in ‘Wolf Hall.’
We were swamped as usual during these holidays by a vast amount of Christmas greetings and news, which I really must get down to editing for the next edition of the Blog, but I’m already a little behind schedule with this one! On the announcements front I really must firstly clarify – as it was asked about – that Olivia Mitchell’s fiancé Benedict, spoken of last time, is indeed the older brother of Araminta Clibborn.
In addition Tristan Harrison has announced his engagement to Jennifer Bawden of Ruislip Manor, Middlesex and Candida Langdon has announced her engagement to Andrew Pollen of Bramshott Chase, Hampshire. A momentous wedding in Windlesham terms saw Paul Heigl marry Emily Benson on December 7th, the fifth such marriage known between alumni.
Following the example of his brother Matti, James Wicken and his wife Suman have had a daughter, Zara May, born on November 26th, a sister for Joshua. It was also lovely to hear that Charlotte (nee Wright) and her husband Russ Ege have their first child, a daughter Hannah Ariella in Rockville, Maryland weighing 7lbs 1oz, born (to the delight of mathematicians everywhere) on 11/12/13!
It really has been the season for girls, as Fletcher Blakemore and his wife Sophie now have a daughter, Alice Jennifer, weighing 6lbs 7ozs born at 11.37pm on December 28th, Mike Rozwadowski and his wfe Clare also have a daughter, Amelia born on January 4th, and to complete the set Simon and Lucy Hallam now have a daughter, Poppy Isabella Rose, born on January 12th weighing 8lbs 6ozs, a sister for James.
On a sadder note, I must report that former maths teacher and, above all, photographer Hal Randall died peacefully at the age of 95 on December 16th. His funeral at St Mary’s Storrington on January 2nd was attended by six Windlesham staff, Peter and Alma Cronin, Antony Walker and Ena Whitehouse, as well as Rachel and me. He will be remembered very fondly by so many and what a rich legacy he provided for the archives over the years with his many albums of photos covering the 70s and early 80s. We are holding his wife Rhona and all the family in our prayers. Likewise, following the death at the age of 72 of Terry Biddlecombe, we are thinking of his family, especially Laura and Libba and their mother Brigid.
Somewhat belatedly we saw the film ‘The Impossible’ the other day and, wow, did it bring back memories of alumni involvement in the tragic tsunami on Boxing Day 2004. The harrowing accounts of those events told by the Walker-Smith family, by Tracey LI (nee Menzies) and by the Gordon family are etched in my mind. It was good that we at Windlesham were able, therefore, to provide some very targeted assistance in the aftermath of that disaster.
Memories were also the order of the day when I spoke for the first time since the 80s with former history teacher, Nick Leonard. We had a real trip down Memory Lane, as he retains a very clear and immensely positive recall of so many of his pupils and colleagues from that era. He was delighted to catch up with the news on all those faces still etched in his mind – I won’t embarrass anyone by mentioning names, but to have that conversation was a great delight and he sends warm greetings to all who remember him. And from everyone at Windlesham, Happy New Year greetings to one and all.