Heath Old Boys Association

News and events

2017 Annual Reunion Dinner

The Association held its 71st annual dinner at the Heath R.U.F.C. at West Vale on Friday, 22nd September. It was attended by a record 57 old boys and their guests and, as usual, was preceded by the A.G.M. Our treasurer, Mr J.D. Turner, has, unbelievably, held office since 1965 and was able to report a ‘year of consolidation.’ The Association has rallied to 136 members; the website is flourishing; we are apparently on something called ‘Facebook,’ etc., etc.

Most Old Boys are well into their cups and reminiscences by this time; so on to the splendid meal, chicken and Yorkshire pudding with all the trimmings and, by overwhelming demand following last year’s grievous omission, a pudding was added to the menu.

We were delighted to welcome a guest from the school this year, namely the current Head, Mrs Lynnette Cassidy. Having been in post for only three weeks, she was still finding her feet but spoke engagingly of her early life and made a memorable joke, saying that she worked in theatre design, but ‘left without making a scene.’ Having spoken of benefactors to the school, such as Lord Somerleyton, and emphasising that the legacy of Heath was continuing strongly, she sat down to rapturous applause.

Mr G.P. Smith, the retiring President, next addressed us in his voice of thunder. He felt that his two years in office had been a productive period. He had tried to reach out to members, and praised the committee for their unstinting efforts; Founder’s Day in particular had become a great success. He reminded us also that this year was the 30th anniversary of the tragic crash, and that a service had been held at the memorial seat in Manor Heath. Finally he welcomed Mr J. Robertshaw, our new President, who has long been a vital part of the Association.

We usually greet Andrew Connell [Heath 1958–1965] in his role as distinguished reader of the Latin grace but this year he had been dragooned into being the ‘keynote’ speaker. Mr Connell made a peripatetic speech, which held his audience rapt as we wondered what part of the room he was going to pop up in next. He indulged in shameless name-dropping, hoping we would be impressed by his claim to be friends with Paddy Ashdown, Prince Charles and MP Rory Stewart. Andrew’s speech was larded with memorable, thought-provoking lines such as that Heath as a school was not ‘up itself’ and the undoubted truth that ‘though it was a happy school, not everyone there was happy.’

Memories of scout trips, school plays. Favour-ites debates and mock elections that went wrong all helped to bring ‘order out of chaos’ and went down well. Most memorably Andrew, who is reputed to have some musical talent, got us to join him in a rendition of ‘This could be the last time’ and ‘Only the lonely.’ Magic. Thanks, Andrew.

The evening ended, as ever, with uninhibited camaraderie. On a personal note it was great to meet up again with long-lost classmates and colleagues such as David Adams and Fred Rule.

The raffle, with prizes generously donated by Jas Chatta and Jon Hamer, raised £450 for the Association funds, and thanks go once again to Jim Farrell for MC-ing the event in his inimitable style, to Jon Hamer and all who helped to make it another successful event.

Those attending were: J Farrell L Cassidy A Connell J Hamer J Chatta G Whitaker J Henry I Downsborough J Bunch J Hudson T Ward J Davey J Charnock J Greenwood J Hoggard K Tidswell A Parker D Adams S Lum G Smith J Robertshaw R Dixon R Crosland D Turner M Bingham M Denton J Morley G Ward M Squire M Baxendale C Tindal D O’Callaghan T Stringer M Orlic C Morley O Schofield H Reilly D Harrison C Piper D Potter R Stollery P Stollery N Tobin R Eastwood G Richardson K Gillespie J Travis E Broughton G Parr M Ennis J Denwood J Russell G Stansfield T Edwards F Rule P Keenan J Hoyle and three Guests.

Rod Eastwood [1954–1961]