Soham Grammarians - 2009 Reunion

Who booked for the 2009 Dinner

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This year we welcomed sixteen who had not been since at least 2002. Seven former SGS staff were booked including John Ansell's guest, Mrs Brenda Bott, who as Brenda Hobbs was School Cook 1946-56.

Chris Bent 53 was again our MC and John Dimmock 59 was our box office manager.


Rev (Rtd) Gwyn Murfet 56, using a 'grace before meat' from an old school service book.


Charlie's Tomato & Basil Soup

Chicken Breast wrapped in Bacon with Bread Onion Gravy
2 Fresh Seasonal Vegetables with New Potatoes

Brenda's Chocolate Sponge with Chocolate Sauce
or Fruit Salad & Cream

Bish's Cheese Board
Coffee & Mints

Wine available at the Bar

Loyal Toast : HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN (Mike Barningham 60)

Guests of Honour: Dr Carin Taylor, Mrs Ann Jarman

Speaker: Mrs Ann Jarman

Toast: ABSENT FRIENDS (George Dann 33)

Chris Bent 53, our MC for the evening.

Chris: For most of you our guests need no introduction. Dr Carin Taylor has found the time in her very busy schedule since joining the Village College as Principal to join us for this and the last three Dinners. Carin’s enthusiasm for both the College and this evening are undiminished.

I am sure Carin will have a few observations to make on both shortly.

I cannot express fully what a delight it is this evening to welcome Ann Jarman, who fell prey to Frank’s charms and agreed to talk to us about her father, the wonderfully memorable John Ford - fondly remembered by most of us as Charlie.

This caused me to reflect on the past year which has been something of a sad one in Grammar School terms, in a way that illustrated how those I knew at school some 50 years ago remained in my life.

Chris Bent 53, our MC
When George Dann toasts Absent Friends, I shall in particular be remembering:
  • Tabby Tabraham, who taught me the difference between 'mortise' & 'tenon'.
  • George Phythian, who taught me the basics of gardening and the importance of cleaning and greasing implements. The evocative smell of axle grease on an earthy cloth takes me to the tool sheds and apple stores.
  • Rex Waller who I let down badly on the Latin front, but who, as an enthusiastic Scout master taught me self-sufficiency and service. And gave me the opportunity to be able to tell grandchildren, off on their comfy sleepovers - "that’s not camping!". We used to dig our own earth latrines and slept on a rubber sheet on the ground. If you have not done so, do read Rex’s 2006 Reunion Dinner talk on the website.

I can’t help visualising that these Masters are forming a celestial Staff Room up there with Ted and Charlie, and that a suitable come-uppance will be on hand if any of the ’53 intake (and many others) redeem themselves sufficiently to make the journey.

And of course we will remember Roger Lane, who served the broad community so well, but was largely responsible in single-handedly keeping this tradition of Old Boys Reunion Dinners flourishing. I was in the School Scout Troop with Roger, and later knew him well in Round Table. He was a large and generous character. We shall all miss him.

Guest of Honour
Dr Carin Taylor BA PhD CertEd NPQH

Principal of Soham Village College since September 2006

My thanks to Grammarians for your invitation to join your Dinner. I never cease to be impressed and moved by the lengths you go to be together, travelling distance and making a commitment to your Grammar School roots. I am proud, on behalf of the College, that we have such a fine tradition here.

We are no longer a Grammar school, of course. The Village College celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and enjoyed a wonderful January weekend of celebrations which attracted local politicians and many old students from across the country. We value our varied archive!

As a 1350 strong mixed comprehensive we do our best to uphold the best of the grammar school standards. Academic achievement at the Village College remains strong, placing us in the top 25% of schools nationally. The vast majority go on to post-16 study in Ely or Cambridge. But we do this with an ever-more challenging intake and social pressures on our fringes. We are proud that we support students of all backgrounds and abilities to achieve good outcomes during their time at school.

Dr Carin Taylor

We can boast that our production of The Mikado last March and our Annual Concert in Ely Cathedral were of exceptional quality – in the fine tradition of the grammar school. But we move with the times, of course, and are now one of the first maintained secondary schools to boast an Apple Mac suite as part of our media study facilities. This time next year, we should have a new performing arts facility to seat 180 – a far cry from this grammar school hall and the Conservatory!

Once again, my deep appreciation to the Grammarians for their on-going support of the Village College.

Guest Speaker - Mrs Ann Jarman
, née Ford, who spoke about her father,
Mr CJ Ford, the longest serving master at SGS: she is seen here with Peter Askem 54-72.
image: Haslam

Ann Jarman's illustrated talk on Mr CJ Ford

The Toast to Absent Friends - George Dann 33

In particular George read out the names of those whose deaths we had learned of since we last met:

Staff: George Phythian, Jack Symmons, Edmund Tabraham and Rex Waller

Also Mrs Betty Makin.

SGs: Jack Lockwood 20s, Robin McLaren 20s, Edward Wright ?36, Don Knights 39, Harold Freeman 44, John Christopher 46, Roger Lane 49, John S Murfitt 46, Bryan Denley 47, Brian Halls 55, Chris Southgate 55, Bob Durrant 56 and Tom Gray 60.

Those sending apologies were:

David Anderson 59
Ron Audus 42

Mike Baldwin 58
Peter Bird 53
Ray Bolton 58
Ian Booth 57
Donald Boud 45
Rodney Brown

Andrew Cullum 59

James Faircliffe 44
Patrick Faircliffe 48
Geoff Fernie 59
Vernon Fretwell 50
Don Fuller 39

Stan Harley 53
John Hill 48
Ian Hobbs 48
Bryan Hollamby, Staff
Kathy Howells, Staff

Alan Jarman 65
Jenifer Jeffery, dau Tabby

Biddy Knight, dau Tom Riley

June Lawrance
Bob Leonard 41: CJF to me - Stop that, boy, you'll blow us all up!

Robert Medlock 68
John Middleditch 53

John Peacock 54
Charles Peacock 44
Bill Peters 48

Chris Royal-Dawson, Staff
George Russell 43

Roger Smith 56
Graham Speed, Staff

Clive Taylor 55 - a 12,000 mile round-trip is too much even for dinner & good company!
Peter Taylor, son RAT
Mike Tuffs 61

Tony Willenbruch 62
Denis Wilkins 53

The Loyal Toast was proposed by Mike Barningham 60,
an ex-Marine Commando, who travelled this year from Nigeria to attend.

Mike at the 2008 Dinner
Towards the end of the evening Frank Haslam '59' gave a short presentation on developments on our website and database. He asked that we:
  • look at the list of those ‘out of touch’ in case we can help
  • persuade as many as possible of the Grammarians we meet to get in touch
  • keep him (Frank) up to date with our email, postal address and telephone number details
  • (if locals) peruse the obits/deaths in the Cambridgeshire or Suffolk local papers and let Frank know if we spot an SG

The annual School Lists named who was in each form.

Frank said there was a 'black hole' in the archive for School Lists for the latter half of the 1960s.

We urgently need the School Lists for:


On the website (then moving towards 44,300 visits) there has notably been :

  • addition of post WW2 Service deaths via the In Memoriam page - Rusty Bridgeman, Colin Capes and Donald Touch
  • transcription of Admission Registers for:
    April 1881 to April 1914
    September 1922 to January 1926
    January 1933 to March 1939
    .. some of our families may be there!
  • addition of press reports/photos of some Old Boys Dinners pre-2002 - can we add any others?
  • work leading to the imminent release of a tribute page to Roger Lane 49 who for many years up to 2002 organised our Dinners [this can now be seen via the In Memoriam page]

Some 2009 Reunion Dinner photos

Please contact the editor about any missing or incorrect IDs. Name and entry year are shown

50 minutes to go: the splendidly laid tables are 'bookleted', now to set up the displays and audio visual

Pauline Henton stood in for colleagues who were
unwell. She and the team did us proud.

Peter Askem 54-72 - Mrs Ann Jarman - Chris Bent 53, bow tied this year - Dr Carin Taylor - Gordon Hemmings 58-66

The 59ers were the biggest year group attending. Here are some of them:
Nigel Faben - Lees Donaldson - Pete Smith - Vaughan Moll - Dannie Nicholas.
The Helen Mirren photo was brought along by Dannie Nicholas for Vaughan Moll, who endured being 'slapped' by her
in a three week run of Anthony and Cleopatra when he was with the National Youth Theatre
(Vaughan was the one who played a Messenger/Guard). Gordon Hemmings organised a trip to see a performance.

More 59ers - Ralph Dunham - John Dimmock - Peter Scott - Dick Peachey
(Gerald Gillett is 1951)

Wilkes Walton 36 - Roy Palmer 37 - Stan Darby 38
Wilkes' bow tie, inherited from Norman Sneesby, had competition from Chris Bent this year
Wilkes: "Why is Chris Bent wearing his tie upside down - is it a sign of distress?"

George Lester 37 - John Lester 65 - Ralph Barker 65

Rod Armitage '55' - Keith Fuller 40

Simon Thornhill 65 - Vince Gudgeon 66 - Richard Dean 56

Geoff Griggs 60 - John Saul 50 - Owen Barber 50 - Cliff Cobbin 50

Stephen Seymour 68 - Malcolm Coe 57 - Roger Logan 57

Leon Kitchen 51-57 and Ted Quinn 50-56

Gwyn Murfet 56, who said Grace - Robert Powell 56 - Ivan Whymer 56

During the meal images from the website provide talking points, cheers and even bursts of song ...

Howie Docherty 56 - Paul Rolph 54 - Dick Bozeat 59-72

Fred Eden 44 - John Kisby 43 - Peter Handley 42

Ed Reed 67 - Philip Sparrow 66 - Michael Turner 47 - Ken Ellingham 51 - David Reader 51

Gareth Wood 64-72 - Kenn Hunter 67 - Peter Scott 60-72 - Peter Deasley 54

John Ansell 47 and his guest Mrs Brenda Bott, who as Brenda Hobbs was School Cook 1946-56

Following the Loyal Toast, a microphone is passed around for a Roll Call as we each get up
to say who we are, our years at SGS, and where we live now: John Ansell 47 again, in full flow

Donald Monk tried hard to get his 1950 entry to attend:
back: Donald Monk - Clifford Cobbin - Clive Bray - Owen Barber
front: Charlie Phelps - Ken Thompson - John Saul.
Charlie and Cliff had not met for 54 years.
photo: Donald Monk


Among the last to leave: 59ers Frank Haslam - Dannie Nicholas - Dick Peachey - Ralph Dunham - Nigel Faben - John Dimmock - Lees Donaldson

Dannie Nicholas 59 is a professional writer. "The research and writing of Nine Lives took thirteen years - it was published in 1997 - and was inspired by experiences with two of his cats named Chaucer and Shakespeare ... "

Dannie sold £120 worth of books at the Dinner, all proceeds to the SG funds for which we are very grateful. If you wish to buy a copy of Dannie's meticulously researched Nine Lives please call him on 01508 493655.

images: unless otherwise stated, Frank Haslam
page created 7 October 2009: last updated 22 Oct 2009
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