The Vineyard Dinner

In November, Sir Peter Michael CBE OW (1949-57), kindly hosted a WA Bursary Appeal fundraising dinner at ‘The Vineyard’, a wonderful hotel and restaurant he owns in Newbury. The Vineyard showcases wines from the Sir Peter Michael Winery in California. On arrival, guests walked through the exposed cellar to enjoy champagne adjacent to the remarkable painting depicting The Judgement of Paris. Sir Peter explained that he had commissioned the work to illustrate the legendary industry event when Californian wines were favoured over French in a blind tasting.

Guests then enjoyed a private dinner matched by wines personally selected by Sir Peter, including the award winning Les Pavots, the flagship red from the Sir Peter Michael Winery. Guests enjoyed a wonderful menu of seasonal and local produce and met the talented chef who explained his approach in the restaurant.

Following dinner, guests enjoyed musical performances from Whitgift boys, Brian, Theo and Luka who came all the way from school with Head of Music, Rosie Whitfield and Phil Wilson. The standard from the boys was remarkable and showcased a diversity of talent, from vocal, harpsichord and violin performances, reminding OWs of the breadth and range of opportunities provided by the music department.

Headmaster Chris Ramsey, then thanked Sir Peter and the WA for their efforts with the fundraising and shared his plans for the school and fundraising, which was very well received.

WA President Lord Freud introduced our host, Sir Peter, who spoke about his time at Whitgift and his career as an engineer and a businessman. He gave a fascinating insight into his investments and entrepreneurial flair and his passion for the Winery and the Hotel.

After dinner, guests retired to the bar, a beautifully convivial space at the heart of the Hotel, for more drinks and conversation and for most an overnight stay.

Thank you to Sir Peter Michael for his kindness and exceptional generosity in hosting this dinner and his time in sharing the evening with us, which raised in the region of £10,000 for the bursary appeal. All present appreciated the quality and generosity in the food and wine. Thank you to OWs and their guests that made the effort to travel to Newbury and support the event.

The evening included a fundraising raffle with fantastic prizes, in particular gift box of wine donated by the Headmaster and gifts from the school shop, Marion the school nurse and Son flowers in Warlingham. Thank you to all for your generosity.

Naomi Newstead