Annual Dinner of the Old Carolians Association held in Oldfield Hall on Saturday 19th November 2016.
A real Mary Berry of a day, despite the pouring rain. The main ingredients, a feast of football and rugby on the television to warm the spirits. Arsenal versus Manchester United, followed by a succession of rugby internationals involving teams from both the southern and northern hemispheres. In addition, there had been victories for Kidderminster Carolians and the Harriers. The icing on the cake after that could only be the Annual Dinner.
Do you remember the first day you played rugby at King Charles? My first games’ and french teacher had been Clem Pope, his purple shorts down below his knee. What a fantastic experience, picking the ball up and running with it, dodging the grasping hands. If you had few soccer skills, as I did, it was brilliant, and you could involve yourself in gratuitous violence on your opponents.
There were 100 members and guests at the Dinner this year, the catering again expertly handled by Plyvine. 16 of the 1954 intake sat at my table and I wondered if any other year was so splendidly represented. As I looked at each man, cascades of memories came flooding back as we exchanged them across the table. Following Grace, newly elected President Ian Sandall opened the Dinner with toasts to the Queen and to absent members. Seated with him on the top table were Canon Rose Lawley of St. Mary’s Church, Rose Bishop, Chair of Wyre Forest District Council, Nicky Gale, Deputy Mayor of Kidderminster, Rosemary Morgan, Chair of Kidderminster High School Old Girls’ Association, David Allen, President of the Old Elizabethan Association, Stephen Brownlow, Headteacher of King Charles 1 School, Tim Gulliver, Secretary of the Old Carolians Association, and Peter Picken, Treasurer of the Association. Other guests at the Dinner were Head Girl and Head Boy at the school. Nina Das-Gupta and Ben Onslow.
In his speech, Stephen Brownlow said that it had been a splendid year for the school. In the GCSE results, 72% had gained the coveted 5 A* grades including English and Maths, which was the 9th best record in the County and much better than the 21st place last year. At ‘A’ level, 60 % of year 12 had progressed to University and 25% had gained apprenticeships. The School had been nominated for an award for this achievement. Stephen commented on the excellent facilities which the school now possessed, the Sports facilities, Astro turf, Sports Hall, and Swimming Pool. All classrooms now had interactive white boards. There were excellent facilities for Design Technology and Science on 2 sites and vitally important for the school was the generous funding from the Old Carolian Trusts and Awards foundations. The school was fortunate too in its excellent extra-curricular activities - the drama and music productions, the trips to European countries across all years, the cadet force, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, the highly successful boys’ and girls’ sports’ teams in County competitions and the visits to both Aston and Birmingham Universities. There was generous applause when Stephen mentioned the tragic death of the School’s Head of Girls’ PE, Becky Giddins who had died during the year. A truly inspirational and much loved colleague. Finally, Stephen proposed a toast to the Old Carolian Association and to the new President.
Ian Sandall in his address, mentioned that he had arrived as a new boy in 1980 when Graham Merlane was Headteacher. He was placed in Blounts’ House. He especially remembered the much loved library and librarians, the daily assemblies and his yellow House shirt. He had loved the school societies, the competitions and quizzes at lunchtimes, the computers and Arts’ festivals, and especially the Chess Club with its mini bus trips to other schools. Other memories, were the fully occupied fives courts, the Art room where much of the homework was either prepared or completed, and the Physics lessons of George Oxendale , who seemed to resent the mixed ability teaching, with which he now had to cope. George had commented that he had to teach, “Pigs out of their sties.” Many of us present could have added many more George isms to this comment. Ian thanked ex Headteacher Beryl Bedford for attending the Dinner, for the happy memories, and for her work with the Old Girls’ Association. Norman Broadfield too, was congratulated for the excellent Old Carolians’ Magazine.
Finally, the Old Carolians’ Association had elected world-renown Professor Jim Robinson and Pat Yarnold to be Life Members. Jim now lived in the USA but he had donated a magnificent porcelain statue of King Charles 1 to the King Charles Room in the Town Hall. Pat had spent most of his life at King Charles School, as a pupil, teacher, Governor, Committee Member of the Association and also its President. Over £200 was raised in the raffle at the end of the evening, the bottle of Glenmorangie whiskey being won by 1954 entrant Max Wall. Max also accompanied everyone as they sang the National Anthem and Auld Lang Syne.
This report cannot be concluded however without mentioning all those who work so diligently behind the scenes before any guests arrive. Particular thanks must go to Peter Picken, Tim Gulliver, Colin Lloyd, David Slater, Mike Wilson, Peter Guy, David Campbell Slater, Norman Broadfield and the staff of Plyvine. The Dinner would not be such a success without these Association stalwarts.
OCA’s Chief Educational Correspondent: “Captain” Peter Vaughan