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Networking Is Back!

Our first London networking event since pre-pandemic times was a success with forty OBs joining us on Thursday 14th October. The gathering was hosted by Will Notley (92-03), Director at PDP London, at their stylish Eccleston Yards office.

The London Networking Forums were originally set up to give OBs of all ages the opportunity to connect and extend their network in a friendly, informal environment. This was well reflected at our recent event with attendees ranging from all ages – from 19 to 60 plus.

“It was great to be able to physically get together again and to see OBs from across a range of careers and professions mingle and share their stories and tips. There was a real shared sense of community and we were pleased to learn that many OBs have been using our digital networking hub, Eagle Connect, to communicate with one another. “

Closer to home (or rather, the school), we will be hosting our inaugural Bedford Networking event, open to all members of the BSA (Bedford School Association) community, at Brewpoint on Thursday 4th November. This event is already proving to be very popular, so please do book early to avoid disappointment.

See Photos

Commemoration of Founders and Benefactors – 2021

Following rain of biblical proportions on Saturday, the sun came out and shone on the Sunday for the school’s annual commemoration of its Founders and Benefactors. This was the first time that some of our guests had ventured out to an organised event since the beginning of the pandemic, making it an even more jubilant occasion.

The Chapel Service was very special, with the choir singing a beautiful rendition of the school hymn, Domus Pater, as the procession entered the Chapel. Thank you to the brass ensemble for their musical contribution throughout the service, and to our guest preacher, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway SCP, Lord Bishop of Ely, who gave an uplifting and amusing sermon.

Following the Chapel service, guests and staff moved across to the Great Hall for a delicious 3-course lunch.  Over lunch, the atmosphere was joyous as many caught up with old friends and new friendships were formed.  From Governors, Trustees, Old Bedfordians, parents (current and past) and staff, it was such a delight to see everybody coming together and enjoying each other’s company.

During their speeches, both the Head Master and the Chairman of Bedford School Foundation, Lance Feaver (69-74), thanked everybody for attending and for their continued support for the school. Gifts of all sizes are always very much appreciated, and, in recent years, it has been particularly kind of people to make provision for the school in their wills. Lance Feaver referred to the ‘Decade of Giving’ brochure (see here) highlighting how the community’s support has played a vital part in assisting the school’s development plans and its scholarship and bursary programme.

James Hodgson spoke about the strategic direction of the school.  Whilst he was unable to share more information about the exciting plans in place on the day, they will be shared with the community in the very near future.

Prior to the Founders & Benefactor’s, on Saturday 2nd October, a decade after the refurbishment of the Langham Pavilion, we welcomed back donors for a pre-match lunch in the café bar, to thank them for their generosity. After the hearty lunch, the 1st XV went on to win in a hard-fought ‘battle’ against Eton – to the delight of our ‘home supporters’!

Thank you to everyone, who travelled from far and wide, to attend this year’s commemoration.  If you would like to know more about the work of the Bedford School Foundation, or indeed become a member, please contact either Hugh Maltby (73-83) (hmaltby@bedfordschoool.org.uk) or Bev Marshall (bmarshall@bedfordschool.org.uk).

See Photos Here

Back to School – 84 Years On!

It was wonderful to welcome Edwin ‘John’ Carvell (33-37), our oldest OB (on record), back to school after a 84-year hiatus. You may remember our story, from earlier in the year, when we had contacted Edwin, after finding an article about his 100th birthday celebration in a local newspaper, and sent him a personalised birthday card – along with an invitation to come back to his old school.

Edwin, was keen to accept our invitation to return for a special VIP tour and lunch with the Head Master and Hugh Maltby (Director of the Bedford School Association). On his arrival, he eagerly talked about his old school reports, which he treasures to this day. Hugh then showed him an old  British Pathé newsreel dating back to 1933, when the then Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor), visited the school to open the new science block and met with the Head Master – a day he remembers vividly. His memory was definitely on point, as he shared the final conversation he had with Mr. Grose-Hodge (the Head Master at the time) before he left the school in 1937.

During the tour, Edwin enjoyed reminiscing about his time at Bedford and was keen to retrace his footsteps to his old classroom in the science building. He noted that, although much had inevitably changed with the passing of time, so many things had also remained constant. The school felt different but also remained comfortably familiar. Technology has brought about advances in teaching methods, as Edwin found out when Liz Palmer (a current Science teacher) demonstrated the new smart boards, which have replaced the old blackboards and chalk.  As Edwin passed the Glebe Road gates, he pointed out that he remembered making them, with his classmates, in the old school workshop…a bit of unaltered history we weren’t aware of.

“It was a pleasure to welcome Edwin back to the school to reminisce about his school days. Despite the passing years and many changes which have taken place, he opined that the core fundamentals of a Bedford education remain as true today as they did in 1937.”  James Hodgson, Head Master

Back in the 1930s, day boys would often go home for lunch, meaning that Edwin had never enjoyed the culinary delights of a school lunch. As the tour came to an end, we thought it only fitting to serve him his favourite dish of steak and chips. Just before tucking in, the Head Master presented him with his first OB tie, albeit 84 years late, making Edwin a fully-fledged OB!

Stephen Wins Decathlon Gold in Titanic Battle

Following on from his English School’s Octathlon triumph in 2019, recent Old Bedfordian Stephen Simmons (2016-21), representing Bedford School and Bedfordshire and Luton Schools Athletics, won gold again at the ESAA Decathlon Championships held at Bedford, but not without a titanic battle with his two main rivals, Patrick Morgan of Hereford and Worcester and Oliver Adnitt of Humberside.

Stephen made an unspectacular start with 11.65 seconds into a headwind in the 100m to rank 6th of the 35 starters. He improved to 2nd place after a near personal best of 6.68 metres in the long jump. He then consolidated 2nd place with a big personal best of 12.23m in the shot and equalling his lifetime best with 1.80m in the High Jump. Despite recording 52.03 seconds (again close to his best ever) he finished 5th fastest in the 400m, dropping back to 3rd place overnight. With a strong second day to come, there was still much to play for.

Stephen opened the second day with an excellent 14.60 seconds in the 110M hurdles – only five one-hundredths behind the winner, moving him up to take the overall lead with 4329 points. He then launched a superb first throw in the discus – a lifetime best of 44.52m to win the event and extend his lead further.  Another big personal best came in the Pole Vault where he cleared 3.90m, losing some ground to Adnitt, but still well in the lead. Patrick Morgan stepped up into the frame and 2nd place overall with an outstanding 54.50m to claw back some 160 points on Stephen who himself threw a near personal best of 43.15m to keep himself 200 points ahead of Morgan and 262 ahead of Adnitt

With just the 1500m the lead might have appeared unassailable, but this was far from the case. Both of his rivals had recorded times of 4 minutes 27 this year. With an expected time of 5 minutes, this was Stephen’s weakest event. With a difference of 204 points between running 4 min 27 and 5 minutes, it was clearly going to be a very close-run. He was going to need to finish with 150 metres of Morgan and 180 metres of Adnitt.

Despite being several metres behind the last man in the field even after the first 100m, Stephen kept a cool nerve and stuck to the pre-agreed race plan of 5-minute pace. At one point, Morgan was 200m ahead, but paid the price for his early pace and faded to run 4 minutes 32 seconds;  Adnitt came through to win in 4 min 27, and Stephen emptied the tank in running 5 minutes 02.36 seconds.

Nobody knew whether it would be enough until the final result was announced. Stephen set a new club U20 record of 6710 points with Morgan only 21 points behind for the silver; and Adnitt a further 27 points back for the bronze medal.

It had been a titanic battle, but it was a championship worth winning and a performance to be proud of.

Summer Drinks on the Terrace

Our thanks go to London DVP Chris Jones (72-77) who kindly arranged our first physical get-together in the UK after lockdown restrictions were lifted.  Members of the OB community gathered at the historical National Liberal Club in Westminster for what was a memorable evening of fellowship.

“It was wonderful to be back.  We were thrilled to be joined by many recent leavers, several of whom are about to embark on the first steps on the career ladder.  It was great to see them mingling and exchanging stories with their more ‘seasoned’ counterparts.” Hugh Maltby, Director of the BSA

“Thank you to all those who joined me at the first DVP London Drinks reception since pre-pandemic times. It was such a success that we’ve already pencilled in a date for next year – so please save the date for Thursday, 9th June. Looking forward to seeing you all at an OB event in the near future.” Chris Jones, London DVP

Message From the Head Master to OBs

Dear Old Bedfordians,

I write at the end of a wonderful first week back at your old school.  This time of year is always special, but it feels particularly so this year as we slide ourselves gently away from Covid restrictions and return to some semblance of normality.  There continue to be a whole raft of unusual situations for the school, ranging from the serious to the trivial, all bringing with them the need for novel solutions.  Having only been here for two terms in the last six, I was shocked to find a good many boys whom I am failing to recognise – some of the younger ones I have never met properly; others have grown so much.  But then one realises that if I could not recognise them physically after a year or so, just imagine how much their brains, minds and attitudes had changed in that same period.  As a staff, we are very aware of this, and are working hard to get to know the boys well again.  Then there are logistical challenges, not unlinked in some cases.  For instance, the Remove Form had never even entered the Main School Building until this week – last year, when at school, they had taken lessons in a “bubble” on de Parys Avenue; the teaching staff (except for science, art and one or two others) had travelled to them.  The departments (and teachers), therefore, did not have a home “base” – so much of the social contact between them is now being renewed, too.  And then, frankly, the bizarre.  We have started these last two terms with the EMH set up as a Covid testing centre for the whole school.  A mixture of our staff and volunteer parents will have conducted about 2000 Covid tests by the end of this week; we do our own track and trace; and we own our own PCR machine (which provides results within an hour), so that as little teaching as possible has been lost in the last 18 months.

And so, thankfully, back to “normality”!  Oundle arrives this afternoon and we have 16 rugby games planned across Prep and Upper.  The grounds are hard (plus ça change!), but look wonderful.  Even there, Covid has had its say – when the 1st XV posts had to come down in April 2020, we could not do it because we needed a minimum of 4 people in close contact to do so (apparently the Maltby family volunteered!).  When we got round to putting the posts out again this term for the first time in 18 months, the ground staff needed metal detectors to find the holes!

It is therefore not only exciting and enjoyable to be back up and running, but also a huge relief.  Numbers in the school are remarkably strong – we start term with over 1100 for the third year running (only the second time that has happened, in fact, since the 1990s); and the baseline testing in each of the last 6 years has shown them to be academically stronger than any of the previous five.  Of course, we have to do our bit.  We were very pleased with the destinations of our leavers this year and they – and indeed all news headlines from the school – can be seen by scrolling through the news pages on our website here.  If you are interested (apparently, to my own shock, some are!) you can find my assemblies there, too.

Boarding is not easy, nationally, and we have suffered a little on this front – and, though this year sees a rise in numbers again (surely few schools could say that this year), we are not out of the woods here.  Please feel free to help with recommendations/referrals on this front; and do please get in touch with me if you feel you can help from overseas, which is an understandably hard market at this time.  The boarding housemasters have been brilliant through the pandemic looking after boys at strange times of the year. 

Strategically, aside from the obvious (academia, sport, the arts etc), we had set our stall pre-pandemic to focus our attention on three core strategic aims around digital technology, community partnerships and entrepreneurship – and how prescient that now seems!  We were well ahead on all three when Covid struck, and they have served us and the boys extremely well over that period.  We will continue on that vein as we exit, but acknowledge that we are also spending increasing time on issues of diversity and inclusion and environmental awareness.  And, physically, I am hoping that I may be able to share our masterplan for the next few years on the Estate more widely soon, as we are approaching the end of our planning on that front.

Finally, my thanks, as ever, to you all for the support and loyalty you show to your old school.  The Old Bedfordian Club really is the most remarkable of clubs and seems to have not only found a way through the pandemic, but simply thrived.  I wish you all some happy times ahead and look forward to seeing you back at your old school, or out at an event, some time soon.

James Hodgson 

HEAD MASTER

Henley Royal Regatta 2021

Mid-August saw the return of Henley Royal Regatta with crowds returning to the banks of the Thames.  The OB Club was well represented, with the debut appearance of Phoenix Boat Club and a number of other OBs racing for their universities and clubs.

The Phoenix crews safely navigated the qualifying round, booking themselves berths in both the Wyfold Challenge Cup and the Silver Goblets & Nickalls’ Challenge Cup. 

The Wyfold four of Austin Roberts (17-19), George Reid (Staff), Connor Sheridan (07-18) and Jared Sheridan (07-16) were unlucky to draw the seeded crew ‘Thames A’ in the first round.  Off the start, the crew raced aggressively clashing in neutral water at the end of the island.  Thames took a small lead passing the Barrier with Phoenix matching their opposition stroke for stroke.  Approaching Remenham Club, Thames pushed away breaking clear and eventually won the heat by 1 ¾ lengths, in the second quickest time of the day for the Wyfold’s.  Thames progressed through to the final where they beat Lea Rowing Club by 2 ½ lengths.  The crew was desperately unlucky to have met the winners in the first round and would undoubtedly have made it through a couple more rounds had the draw been kinder.

Twins George (08-18) and Tom Christian (08-18) faced Bolding and Tarrant, the Olympic spare pair in the first round of the Goblets.  The GB pair, with numerous Henley medals between them, was always going to be a tough draw.  The twins rowed determinedly down the course enjoying the occasion and applause from the crowd.  The GB crew, as expected, went on to win the event, beating Cambridge University in the final.    

“To qualify in two events during the first year of Phoenix was just wonderful.  I’m impressed by what the squad could achieve in just a few short weeks, and I look forward to seeing what comes next for Phoenix BC.” Lauren Owens, Phoenix Coach. 

Thanks go to Pete Mulkerrins (Director of Rowing, BSBC), Will Suthers (Master in Charge, BSBC), Michael Ruta (Coach), Lauren Owens (Coach) and George Christian, for all their hard work and effort to get Phoenix on the water.

Elsewhere, the School 1st VIII made light work of King’s School Worcester in the first round of the Princess Elizabeth Cup before succumbing to Abingdon School, who came 4th at National Schools, in the second round.  Eton College, as expected, won the event beating St Paul’s in the final.

Several other OBs raced for their Club’s and Universities.   George Whitcombe ((11-20), Exeter University)) and Ben Giles ((13-20), University of Bristol), both raced in the Temple Challenge Cup.  While Giles Moon (96-07) coached the UK Armed Forces crew in the Wyfold’s. 

Josh Lyon (10-20), representing the University of Reading was competing in the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup.  He had an excellent race, narrowly losing to Hartpury College BC by ¾ length in a thrilling race.

Finally, history was made when father and son, Dean (79-89) and Trent (10-19) Abraham, raced together for Star Club in the Thames Cup against Lea Rowing Club.  The crew, mainly made up of masters, had enjoyed a successful lead up to Henley, with victories at the British Masters championships and Peterborough, before narrowly losing at Henley Masters Regatta to a star-studded Molesey crew, who boasted Olympic and World medallists.  (Dean is rowing at “2” and Trent at “6”)      

OBs reunited to recreate the 2019 BSBC crew who won the Fullers Head of the River coxed Fours. With the help of Lauren Owens, the boys took out a school boat and, in their words, ‘’powered up and down the Bedford stretch of the river as if they had never been apart’’!

In the boat were bow Josh Lyon (10-20), Harvey Toms (14- 21) heading to Edinburgh University) Ben Giles (13-20) and stroke George Whitcombe. 

It is hoped this can be the first of many reunions, with an aim to put together a competitive Phoenix boat ready for next year’s Bedford regatta.

Come and join us!

The Club’s first competitive outing at Henley proved to be an exciting occasion, from which we hope to build upon, with crews racing in the future at both Bedford Regatta and Henley.  If you’d like to get involved, please contact Phoenix Captain of Boats, George Christian (08-18) georgechristian0@gmail.com

 

Meet the New OB Club President

Meet the new President of the OB Club, Professor Martin Snaith OBE (53–63), who was voted in at the AGM on Saturday 3rd July. 

Tell us a bit about your career.

After a gap year spent largely in South Africa and Switzerland I went to Trinity College, Dublin (TCD) from which I graduated in 1968 with an Engineering degree, another de rigeur one in Arts and a year later with a research Masters. I followed that with three years Doctoral work at Nottingham and those eight years of academic training with a period of “real” work for the Ministry of Works, Kenya. This showed me the practical side of Engineering and the very real problems faced by the then newly independent countries such as a lack of indigenous professional staff and the beginnings of corruption and its corrosive effect on nearly everything.

My time there was socially superb and the trout fishing in the Aberdares great fun. After turning down a very interesting job with a contractor in South Africa, I went back to TCD as a Post-Doctoral Fellow and therefrom onto Queens Belfast as a Lecturer. All of this had set me up for a Senior Lectureship at Birmingham funded by British Aid, specifically to develop a highway engineering skills base in Developing Counties – which I did over around twenty years (including short courses in various countries, a major MSc programme at Birmingham and a satellite MSc programme in the newly independent Zimbabwe. This, together with the creation of a strong research team specialising in the problems we encountered overseas, was a most fulfilling and fascinating academic period of my life. In addition, I collaborated with a British consultant to find and solve various road asset management problems encountered overseas. This led to the development of the road management system called BSM, which one World Bank wag called ‘The British School of Motoring’ and has most recently been implemented in Gambia after its first use in Thailand well over thirty years ago. 

I retired from full-time academic work at the University around twenty years ago as Pro-Vice Chancellor with a number of ideas I wished to pursue. Foremost were two things: the further development and marketing, for the World Bank, of their standard economic model for road analysis, HDM-4, used now by all major donors together with a consortium of consultants and research agencies.  Secondly, with the Northern Ireland (NI) and New Zealand Road Authorities help, and the latter’s groundwork, a capital valuation system for road networks based on condition rather than time since construction, the latter clearly daft when some of our roads in England are Roman and even pre-Roman. This is now in long-term use in NI and being introduced as a pilot for Developing Countries in China under World Bank funding. I fear my career continues, not least as the last project is still underway.

What hobbies keep you entertained in your spare time?

I was tempted to say “huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’” but the fact is I do not hunt although I used to ride notably in Phoenix Park when at TCD. Fishing, I started in my twenties in what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and has been a great relaxation both at home and in those countries, notably in Africa and Australasia which have trout, and visit largely associated with my work- albeit with spectacular lack of success. Shooting, I started young, with a .410 and built up from there, and shot until quite recently, mostly in Northern Ireland, with a lovely shoot near the Giants Causeway and snipe on the bogs of Co Londonderry with my wife’s family most Christmases – huge fun with stories to tell.

We both still ski, Corona permitting, and are very lucky in that our ‘children’ and their families share our passion, and we have a number of friends in France who also ski – making it great fun.

Share an interesting fact about yourself.

I am a frustrated pilot having stupidly declined being taught to fly by my father and now putting Private Pilot License (PPL) training off ‘until next year’…yet again.

Why did you decide to get involved with the school again?

Unusually for us, I attended an OB Dinner largely as it was the last year of Phillip Evans’ time as Head Master and I wished to recognise the good work he had done nationally in relation to mathematics education, to prepare Engineering students when they moved on to University. The dinner was presided over by Roy Gamblin, who was a contemporary of mine and approached me to ask if I would work with him and the OB Office to further enhance the relationship between the Club and School. All stakeholders will be aware that the cornerstone of this is the creation of the all-stakeholder-embracing Bedford School Association which has developed so well, initially under Richard Garrett’s guidance and now that of Hugh Maltby together with a willing Club, at all levels, aided by its superb office staff headed by Gina Worboys, and both HMs since Phillip left.

What excites you about the future of the OB Club?

In part, the above which I believe has taken the best of both the existing OB Club and School morays and developed from there an even more purposeful club and agenda over and above the traditional and excellent ‘Fun, Fellowship and Friendship’ phrase, which was and is true, but is building upon this to allow the Club and School to be more symbiotic. I would hope that during my time as President, we can widen that symbiosis to include activities and assistance to even more OBs (young and not so young), including our members overseas, thereby fostering both institutions and a far wider breadth of activities for ‘young’ OBs.

What’s your fondest memory from your time at the school?

I suspect for many from such schools at that time, the trite answer would be ‘Leaving’. For me, as I basked in the post-school relative freedom to control one’s own life, there was a realisation, despite my appalling ‘Advanced Levels’, that such an all-embracing knee-jerk reaction would not be strictly justified. I gained a huge amount of experience on how to deal with people and understand how to cope in a wide variety of situations – vital in ‘real life’. Also, the various activities I undertook gave me an entrée, which I had not expected, to another totally different sporting area. I was, through my gymnastic experience, added to general sporting life with rugby – crowned in my case by, not the First XV, but rather the seconds – able at TCD to develop my talent at high hurdling where I ended up as captain of Athletics and a ‘University Pink’ gained in part by representing Ireland at my chosen University sport. The moral is that even when you did not at the time expect it, the experience gained could well be, and frequently is, hugely helpful.

What life advice would you give our recent leavers?

To recent leavers and, as implied from the above, make the most of what you have experienced at the school and forget the tiresome bits. Most importantly, look for areas in which you can exploit not only what you have gained from your experiences at Bedford, but also, take advantage of the extensive network (which you are now a part of) of OBs both within the UK and around the world. They have contacts geographically and professionally to help you obtain that vital initial work experience, allied to professional advice ‘get an effective and enjoyable working life going’- and there onwards to a successful career. Do please use the ever-widening range of opportunities, such as Eagle Connect, being offered by the Club and its members to help in this.

 

New Kid on the Block – by Andrew Randall (61-66)

On a sunny afternoon in July 1961, my father and I arrived at the school field to meet Jack Carlton, famed housemaster of Sanderson’s. I was 12 years and 11 months, in my ex-prep school short grey trousers. Various cricket matches were going on, and the end of term was approaching. I had a place to start in September as a Sanderson’s boarder. Jack, leaning on his stick with the ever-present Corgi ‘Pip’ at heel, examined me critically. ‘Bit small, isn’t he? Well, we’ll soon build him up’.  (It never happened!). We then set off for Sanderson’s in Jack’s red Ford Zephyr convertible, with white-wall tyres and the beige hood down. This was a brief reconnaissance visit. I remember meeting the House Mother Mrs Maltby: large and tweedy with a look that suggested she took no prisoners. Mrs Maltby presided over the matrons and Italian maids that came and went with some frequency. The maids called her ‘Mrs Malt’ and everyone was in awe of her.

Meanwhile, my mother had received the ‘Packing List’. This was a list of every conceivable item of clothing and bedding that a new boarder had to have packed in his trunk on arrival at his boarding house. This was to be my first experience of boarding school life. My expectations were based on an exotic reading cocktail of ‘Billy Bunter’, ‘Molesworth’, ‘Jennings and Derbyshire’, ‘Eric or Little by Little’, ‘Tom Brown’s chool-days’ and ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’. All the new clothes were supplied by school outfitter’s J&A Beagley in St Peter’s Street. The Beagley family was linked to the Randalls by marriage since the 1890s, but I don’t recall any forelock-tugging by the assistants when I made my few forays into the shop; in fact when I ordered my first non-school suit there and asked for fashionable narrow bottoms and no turn-ups, the head assistant demurred, telling me it wouldn’t be a good look as ‘you are rather long in the foot, sir’. Of all the places to be long in, the foot just did not cut it. Incidentally, my current shoe size is 7.5-8 depending on brand.Andrew Randall (61-66)

Read Andrew’s Full Story