Upper Fifths 1952-53

We became classmates in the year of Her Majesty’s accession to the throne and, accordingly, have much enjoyed sharing our Jubilee celebrations with Hers (if I may put it that way?). So, for us too, this was our Diamond Jubilee year and we fittingly celebrated it by holding our annual reunion Luncheon at The School on 23 October 2012, courtesy of the Headmaster and thanks to the unstinting support we received from the Catering Department and many others among the School staff.

We mustered 18 of our extant members (21 out of the original 28). Our guests were three: Mr Robert Schad OW (past Master). Mr Bill Wood (School Archivist) and Mrs Angela Warren; they were warmly welcomed/ toasted by John Trott. Bob is now the sole survivor among the Masters that taught us in 1952-53 and in his response he delivered an exquisite expose of his colleagues of the time; nostalgia at its finest! Bill had kindly provided a Grand Tour of the School before lunch ranging from the highly familiar to the totally unfamiliar (literally for one of us who had not revisited the School since he had left in 1954) and, naturally, including the Archive. Bill rounded this off with a plea (duly responded to) for memorabilia for that growing Archive.

As Lunch began, Ron Bernard, in an unscheduled but greatly appreciated intervention on everyone’s behalf, presented your correspondent’s wife with a badge and a Certificate of Honorary Membership of the Upper Fifth of 1952-53 in recognition of her being the reunion’s hostess on no less than 30 occasions to date! Her response left no room for doubt over the pleasure it gave her to accept membership of such a stalwart, persistently-surviving, companionable and ever-hungry body of men, and we joined with her and Bob in raising our glasses to continuing longevity coupled with the remembrance of all our absent friends .

The day’s programme was brought to its completion with three highly amusing sketches from our “Resident Comedian”, Roger Brasier, and who, finally, could have better led us in a vigorous rendition of “Carmen” than Ken Rokison, QC.

But what about the wholly informal components of such occasions? Well the decibels told all. And. as befits a Diamond Jubilee celebration of 60 years of friendship there was much talk of times and Reunions past as well as our hopes for the future.

In preparing for the event your correspondent had unearthed his first public report (a letter to the Editor of The Whitgiftian) in 1968 about the 1967 Reunion and its origins in meetings begun by the late John Maynard, in 1956-57 as tea-parties of those of us then resident at Cambridge University. The letter began “It has come to our notice that a number of Old Whitgiftian groups have reported their meetings in your columns, and not to be outdone we feel the time has come to make mention of our own gatherings which have now been held for the last ten years”. The letter went on to report our pleasure at the presence of Alan Stocks (home briefly from Australia) – this time (2012) too he was with us, but alas only through a telephone link to Brisbane kindly arranged by School staff. The first letter also reported that in the previous year (1966) we had brought together two close friends during their Upper Fifth days, David Brewster and Gerald Haywood, who had not met since leaving School – and we achieved the same again 46 years later with David taking the Chair for our proceedings and Gerald (with Roger Hilton) making it over from Brussels. Plus ca change! And so forgive me, but how perceptive was your correspondent in finishing his letter of 44 years ago , as he does now, with these words: “For such moments as these we propose to continue indefinitely [well for a while longer, last one put out the light please] these reunions and recommend past and present Whitgiftians to consider doing the same”