Soham Grammarians - 2011 Reunion

Who booked for the 2011 Dinner

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This year we welcomed three who had not been since at least 2002. Three SGS staff were present. Chris Bent 53 was again our MC and John Dimmock 59 was our box office manager.

Guests of Honour

Dr Carin Taylor - Principal of Soham Village College
Mrs Ann Jarman -
daughter of Mr CJ Ford

Welcome to Guests by the MC - Chris Bent 53


Rev (Rtd) Gwyn Murfet 56, using a prayer from his old SGS service book.


Carrot and Coriander Soup
Roast Turkey* with Cranberry Sauce,
Roast Potatoes, Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese
Peas and Carrots
Treacle Sponge and Custard or Fruit Salad
Cheese and Biscuits
Coffee and Mints

* a vegetarian alternative was available

Loyal Toast : THE QUEEN (Mike Barningham 60)

The ‘Roll Call’ – when each stood in turn, using the microphone,
to tell us their name/SGS years/where they lived ‘then & now’

Welcome to Soham Village College - Dr Carin Taylor

Speaker: Chris Jakes 65
FROM PRICKWILLOW TO LION YARD ... via Soham Grammar School

Toast: ABSENT FRIENDS (Mr Gareth Wood, Chemistry 64-72)

Chris Bent 53, was our MC for the evening.

After welcoming Dr Carin Taylor, Principal of the Village College once more, Mrs Ann Jarman (née Ford), Mrs Brenda Bott (née Hobbs, Cook 46-52) and our guest speaker Chris Jakes 56 Chris reported that his old friend Denis Wilkins 53 was unable to attend because of an illness in the family.

Chris went on to say that he hoped next year to have the evening off as MC. He had been bounced into 'MCing' by Denis Wilkins during the 2002 Dinner but had enjoyed doing it. However he felt that next year it might more fittingly be done by someone who was around at the end of SGS in 1972.

He would still arrange the drinks etc and he understood that John Dimmock (Box Office Manager) and Frank Haslam (Organiser/Website/Database) were willing to continue in their roles.

He pointed out that being the MC means you get to sit with Carin and Ann rather than with grey haired old men.

Later, he presented bouquets to Dr Carin Taylor, Mrs Ann Jarman and Mrs Brenda Bott.

Chris Bent 53, our MC

Guest of Honour
Dr Carin Taylor BA PhD CertEd NPQH

Principal of Soham Village College since September 2006

Dr Taylor thanked the Grammarians for their invitation to once again attend the Dinner. It was not something she took for granted.

She said that the past year had seen a lot of changes in Education and that her aim and that of her staff was always to do the best for all their students.

In April 2011 the College had obtained greater control of its finances and curriculum when it gained Academy status. One immediate benefit was the availability of funds to spruce up the place, especially Beechurst with all its fine features.

The new Performing Arts Centre will surely be awarded prizes for its design. It was coming into full use and would be officially opened in November.

The College's partnership with the Fitzwilliam Museum, at the heart of a drive to develop cultural learning in East Cambridgeshire, had raised over £30,000.

Later, Dr Taylor provided an application form for any SGs who wished to become a 'Friend of Soham Village College'. Many may have had family who attended the College after their own days at SGS.

Dr Carin Taylor

The Performing Arts Centre, Soham Village College, taken on 1 Oct 2011


The Toast to Absent Friends - Mr Gareth Wood, Chemistry 64-72

When Frank rang me earlier this week to invite me to propose this Toast, he did so, mindful of the fact that in the course of this year, we have lost two former teachers who were both colleagues of mine - Gordon Hemmings and John Abbott.

I did not know Gordon particularly well but he was Head of English when I arrived in 1964 and left two years later. A quietly spoken man he was a determined character and and effective teacher with a love of Drama as a list on the SG website shows. He was clearly held in great affection by his students and, when he returned to live in Ely in 2004, he was invited to speak to this gathering later that year. When he left the area two years later he was given, I quote, 'a royal send off' by a group of distinguished Soham Grammarians.

Mr Gareth Wood
In 2008, now living in Winchester, he entertained and was entertained by Frank Haslam and Peter Coxhead – both of whom were in my Lower 6th group when I arrived in 1964. Their social event is I suppose an illustration of the interaction of Arts and Sciences. Both of those meetings, some 40 years after he left SGS, illustrate the affection in which he was held.

John Abbott I knew rather better. I was in post as Head of Chemistry when he succeeded Bill Rennison as Head of History and had moved into my own adopted village of Fordham. With Judith, his wife, and daughter Helen they visited us at home within a few days. John was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire and attended Kettering GS, which subsequently became well known for its tracking of the American and Russian space programmes. A graduate of Birmingham University (where he met his wife Judy) he taught at Huddersfield New College and Rastrick GS before coming to Soham in 1967. His contributions to Soham GS are well documented – not least because he completed and arranged publication of John Browning's History of Soham Grammar School in 1972. Chris Jakes whom, you have just heard, acknowledges John Abbott as 'a delight to know both as a teacher who nurtured his interest in History and as a Local Councillor in an advisory role'.

John represented Fordham and district as a local councillor and I am aware of the dedication he showed in that role. He was also a member, as I am, of St Peter and St Mary Magdalene, Fordham but, typically, was much more closely involved with church activities than I, becoming a member of both the Ely Diocesan Synod and its Board of Education.

I knew John best as a friend from 1967 onwards and should you think I was being pedantic earlier (teachers are allowed to be pedantic aren't they?) when I said Kettering was in Northamptonshire it was because I was at the 1976 Gillette Cup Final with John when Northamptonshire won – John's elation and celebrations were there for all to see prominently displayed on TV. I was more restrained – as they had beaten Lancashire!

In the above it has emerged that there can be a bond which which may form between pupils and teacher and that is confirmed by this gathering this evening. It is remarkable that after almost 40 years the affection for SGS remains so strong. Nevertheless there are many Soham Grammarians who are not able to be here this evening and I therefore ask you, coupled with the memory of Gordon and John, to rise and drink to 'Absent Friends'.

Deaths of Staff: Mr John Abbott, History 67-72; Mr Gordon Hemmings, English 58-66; Mrs Jill Petrulewicz (Jarrett), Housekeeper 1960-72

Deaths of SGs: ; Prof Leslie Audus (left 29); Owen Bethell 43; Noel Bye 36; Doug Cranwell 37; John Lavender (left 36); John Lister 36; Peter Lythell 43; Josh Martin 21; David Norton 42; Peter Pryke 52; Ted Stanley 49; Harry Summerscales 40; Nigel Tunnell 67; Peter Younge 54; Andrew Walker 61; George Wells 38

Those sending apologies were:

Peter Askem Art/Pottery 54-72

Alan Barber 59
Barry Bartholomew PE 67-68
Philip Bobby 44
Dick Bozeat Woodwork 59-72
John Butcher 47
Mike Bunting 53

Cliff Cobbin 50

Gary Dew 62
Peter Deasley 54
Ralph Dunham 59

Patrick Faircliffe 48
Anthony Foster French 51-57
Keith Fuller 40

Steve Herod 57
Bryan Hollamby Biol 66-70

Alan Jarman 65

Leon Kitchen History 51-57

June Lawrance
Brian Lane 48
Bob Leonard 41

Chris Mason 68
Robert Medlock 68

Bill Rennison History 61-67

Peter Smith 59

David Warren 51
Tony Willenbruch 62
Denis Wilkins 53

Talk: From Prickwillow to Lion Yard

Some 2011 Reunion Dinner photos
... it was a warm evening

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

Stephen Murfitt 65 (sporting a prefect's tie) - Ralph Barker 65

L-R facing camera: David Reader 51 - John Brown 51 - Richard Doe 55 - Mike Goodchild 51 - Colin Fuller 51

Terry Rule 55 and Graham Bye 53

Ian Hobbs 48 - Rodney Brown 48 - Ken Beman 48

Stephen Salisbury 61 - Don Fleet 61 - ?

Geoff Cross 64 - James Gilbert 65

Facing camera this end of table L-R: Paul Firby 58 - Donald Monk 50 - Charlie Phelps 50
Barry Lowe 55 - Geoff Rouse 56 - Brian Leonard 49

L-R: Gerald Gillett 51 - Ivan Whymer 56 - Gwyn Murfet 56 - Malcolm Coe 57 - Roger Logan 57

Four nearest camera L-R: Peter Scott (Maths 60-72) - Ed Reed 67 - Gareth Wood (Chemistry 64-72) - George Dann 33

Tim Leonard 61, wearing the former Old Boys Association tie, checks one of the SGS Sports Cups.
Chris Bent has taken the 100 yards Open Cup for repair

Chef Sarah Coutts (ex SVC) on the left and the SVC serving team receive our thanks

... and Chris Bent has just presented the collection we made for the serving team

Bashful Don Fleet 61 and Clive Cowmeadow 61

Charles Peacock 44 - Lewis Heavens 44 - Fred Eden 44

Geoff Rouse 56 - Ivan Whymer 56 - Gwyn Murfet 56

back: Michael Miller 70 - Bruce Hobbs 65 - Geoff Cross 64 - James Gilbert 65 - Vince Gudgeon 66 - Ralph Barker 65
middle: Tony Nix 65 - Stephen Murfitt 65 - John Lester 65 - Simon Thornhill 65
front: Chris Jakes 65 (speaker)

Chris Jakes 65 now

Chris Jakes 65 then

Please click here to open Chris's talk: From Prickwillow to Lion Yard

images: unless otherwise stated, Frank Haslam
page created 5 October 2011: updated 16 Oct 11
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