The 110th Annual Dinner of the Old Carolians Association was held on Saturday 23rd November 2019 in the Oldfield Hall, King Charles 1 School, Kidderminster.
There was a much greater attendance at the Annual Dinner this year, around 110 guests, an increase on around 20 on last year. This was partly due to groups of ex-pupils deciding to use the Dinner as a Reunion occasion. The catering was once again in the very professional hands of Plyvine, the admired Catering organisation from Brierley Hill. Looking at their web site, you are impressed with the numerous comments of thanks from Midland and Welsh organisations for their services. The Dinner was chaired by our newly elected President Stephen Wyer and again we were joined by Carolians and a sizeable group of ex pupils of Kidderminster High School for Girls. On the top table, Stephen was joined by Mark Garnier, the prospective Parliamentary candidate for Wyre Forest Constituency, Rosemary Morgan, Secretary of Kidderminster High School Old Girls’ Association, David Ross, Mayor of Kidderminster, Simon Archer, Vicar of St. Mary’s Church, Kevin Smith, President of Hartlebury Grammar School Old Boys’ Association, Stephen Brownlow, Headmaster of King Charles School and by Peter Picken, past President and Treasurer of the Old Carolians’ Association. Also in attendance in the Hall were, Jasmine Morris, Head Girl, Adam Turley, Head Boy, Isobel Walden, Deputy Head Girl, and Lachlan Macphail, Deputy Head Boy of King Charles School.
As usual on this occasion, we need to thank all those who made the occasion possible. Dave Laverty and Peter Picken for their organisation and lovely table decorations, and Tim Gulliver, Carolians’ Secretary for invitations. Then there are those who work so efficiently behind the scenes - Colin Lloyd, Peter Guy, Joel Douglas, David Slater and Mike Wilson. If I have omitted anyone from this list I apologise. Norman,the Carolian historian and archivist, was responsible for all the photographs and documents shown on the big screen. Speaking for myself, I certainly missed my old friend and contemporary David Campbell Slater, who was always present selling his CD’s.
Stephen Brownlow welcomed all the guests and proposed a toast to the Old Carolian’s Association. In his speech, he told us of the excellent GCSE results this year and the top of the table Progress performance in the whole of Wyre Forest - a score of + 0.30. King Charles was the only school with a plus performance. A level results were the best ever and the school were 6th in the County, as they have been for the last 3 years. There had been at least 100 trips to Universities, for D of E work, for foreign residential visits and Battlefield tours. Sporting achievements had again been excellent throughout the school. Individual students had excelled in cycling, curling, badminton, rounders and archery. Some of these were nationally recognised. There had been several musical achievements once again, and the musical “Annie“ had been performed to local acclaim. Finally Stephen said that a huge number of these achievements would not have been possible without the finance from the Old Carolian Trusts. Students continue to be assisted at University and Further Education with Old Carolian grants. He ended with a toast to the Old Carolians’ newly elected President, Stephen Wyer.
Stephen started his speech by saying how proud he was to be the new President, following on from his father‘s Presidency in 1988. The Carolian Membership Sub Committee had been making strenuous efforts to facilitate Reunions at the Annual Dinner, and thus attract new Members of the Association. Social Media was also employed to this end. Stephen had been part of the final 11+ cohort to be educated at Woodfield and then to transfer to the new combined school at Chester Road South in 1977. Stephen had fond memories of Woodfield, especially of buildings, pupils and staff and of Clare’s House. He spoke with affection of the help given to him by George Oxendale and Tom Hardwick. Graham Merlane, the Headteacher, was especially singled out for opening new horizons and for highlighting the possibilities of Oxbridge entrance. “Aim High” had always been his advice. Finally Stephen proposed a toast to the School, to continued success and to academic achievements. The final event of the evening was the award of Life Membership to the Association’s Membership Secretary, Peter Guy, who had worked tirelessly in the Old Carolian cause for many years. With piano accompaniment from the Association Senior Vice President, Martin” Max” Wall, the hall joined in singing the National Anthem and Auld Lang Syne. A very successful Annual Dinner was brought to a close.
Peter Vaughan: Chief Culinary Correspondent