Dear OO,

As I succeed my predecessor, Richard Ellis, as President of the OO Club, I’d like to take the opportunity on behalf of the Membership and the Committee to thank him for his unstinting efforts and congratulate him on a very successful year in office.

The School returned for the new term at the beginning of last week, hopefully in rather better shape than at the end of last term when a nasty bug made its presence felt, particularly in School House through which it went like the proverbial dose of salts, laying low fully a third of the boys and the Matron, prompting messages from the Housemaster to “please remove sons early, if possible!” and cancelling the House Christmas dinner. With a son still in School House and with the lurgy, we certainly knew about it!

Joking aside, the School is in good heart and good shape. Of interest to OOs is the progress of the sports facilities’ development, the heart of which is the new hall on the site of the old athletics track, adjacent to the Two Acre (the track has already been relocated to the top fields). Visitors to Oundle will not be able to miss the substantial construction crane towering over the town skyline. The project is due for completion in 2020 and the Club has committed to a substantial financial contribution to this phase, as indeed it did to the construction of the new cricket pavilion in the first phase (named the JM Mills Pavilion, in honour of Mike Mills both an OO, former teacher and housemaster, first class cricketer, and for so long the Secretary and driving force behind the development of the OO Club into the thriving organisation it is today).

The past four years have been busy for the Club as, with the School, it marked a number of important centenary milestones of the Great War. Two hundred and sixty seven Oundelians, both boys and staff, gave their lives in the service of their country during that conflict. Elspeth Langsdale, the School Archivist, building on the work already begun by Stephen Forge, has done a remarkable job unearthing as much documentary information as possible on every OO who failed to come home. The Club continues to provide financial support to the development of the archives and has agreed an annual sum for the purchase of relevant artefacts and memorabilia. When Archives moves from its current home in the Cripps Library to a more suitable location in Cobthorne Stables, adjacent to the OO Club office, the archive displays on permanent loan to the School will be much more accessible to all. The Club will also be funding the installation of a new bell in the tower of the Chapel as an audible reminder of the debt we owe to all OOs who have given their life in their country’s service.

The 2018 Multi Sports weekend had to be abandoned at the last minute due to snow rendering just about every surface unplayable, even the all-weather ones. An idea to try and hold a replacement in September just didn’t work, so normal service will be resumed on the weekend of March 2nd/3rd and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible competing in a full programme of sporting fixtures.

Feedback on the refurbished Old Oundelian magazine continues to be strongly positive. Simon Redfern and his editorial board put many hours in to its preparation to produce a very professional publication. Perhaps the unsung heroes are the Corresponding Members, those in countries abroad, among the armed services, the universities and of course the regions at home who gather all your news, but who also organise reunion lunches, dinners and other events. They provide the material that is the heart of the magazine, the bits we all like reading about familiar or interesting names, or those of whom we may have lost sight, but which prompt the “ah! So that’s what Bloggs is up to now!” moments. In 2019 we have three new Corresponding Members who have joined the team: Guy Bainbridge (Sn 78) in Scotland, Joss Williams (D 86) for the Middle East and Iditorn Israsena (B 06) for Thailand. In addition, Jan Kluk (LS 56) has kindly agreed to take over the position for Northern Europe, in addition to his current role in Eastern & Central Europe. Contact details of all Corresponding Members and Sports Secretaries, can be found on the Club section of the School website. Please give them your full support.

Congratulations to Commodore Mike Walliker RN (D 82) and Edwin Booth DL (Sn 73) who were both recognised in the New Year’s Honours list, both awarded the CBE, Mike being advanced from OBE.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at the various OO and wider Oundle Society events planned for the year.

Best wishes

Alastair Irvine (Sc 81)