The Mill logo

Fifth Grand Ruskin Reunion
John Ruskin College - September 20
15

The Mill logo

  

The Fifth John Ruskin Grand Reunion was held between noon and 6:00 PM on Saturday 5th September, 2015, at John Ruskin College in Selsdon, just a few miles away from the former school building on Upper Shirley Road. The event attracted a total of 47 former pupils, teachers and their guests. 2009 Reunion | 2010 Reunion | 2011 Reunion | 2012 Reunion | Flash Gallery | News Report

   Our thanks to co-organisers: Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958–65) and Richard "Tom" Thomas (JRGS 1957–64).

Ruskin Reunion held on 5th September 2015 at John Ruskin College

As Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) reports: The start of the day was overshadowed by the sad news that that former biology master Mr. Reginald Whellock (JRGS Teacher 1946-56) had died in the days leading up to the reunion, just before his 101st birthday. However, his daughter Pauline Whellock bravely attended, even though she was suffering from a recent fall injury.
   One the most interesting contributions was from present John Ruskin College staff member and marketing director Sally Obertell who, as well as introducing us to four students, revealed that she had started at JR just six months before the move from Shirley to the present site. I hope that she will be able to recall some of her memories of this phase for The Mill website.
   The only ex-member of staff there was Mr.  Martin Nunn (JRGS Teacher 1957-73), who brought along old school-mark books and an impressive ability to remember names and faces from over 50 years ago! He is still active as a Friend of Shirley Windmill and plays the organ for his local church.
   The film show by Richard Thomas concerned an Army Cadet Force event from 1965 – more details will follow.
   Many alumni had come from far away, including John Cobley (JRGS 1958-65) and Martin Preuveneers (JRGS 1958-66) from California, Russell Ead (JRGS 1959-66) from Cheshire, Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66) from north Norfolk, whereas Neil Henderson (JRGS 1964-71) only had a 10-minute walk from his home. I came across London by train, and was very impressed by the fast Number 3 tram journey from East Croydon to the bottom of Gravel Hill – just 11 minutes.
   We are all looking forward to the 100th Anniversary of the school in 2020, not to mention the 15th Anniversary next year of The Mill website, which was established in December 2001. (Thanks, Mel.)
   We also ought to thank Ian M and Tom for organizing the day so well, and The Reunion Band for rolling back the musical years.
   I
also secured the following images at the reunion, which started at noon with attendees being greeted with live music provided by five Alumni, as can be seen below. After introductions from the co-organizers and a welcoming address by Ruskin College principal Mohammed Ramzan, a three-course lunch was followed by visits to the Hair and Beauty Department, the Media and Student Center and the Virtual Hospital, with pupils serving as guides.
  As co-organiser Ian Macdonald reports: "Pauline Whellock - standing in for her late father - presented Mohammed with the Alumni Society cup and a cheque by way of an initial donation to the bursary being set up by the college to fund IT for a worthy student. Further monies were donated during the reunion and will be forwarded in due course. Pauline was warmly received, enjoyed the reunion and spoke at length to several attendees."
   Other high spots included a presentation by Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-1953) on “The Tamworth Road Days,” together with Peter Marchant (JRGS 1949-56) commenting on other Ruskin history.
   Click on any image to view a larger version.

John Ruskin Ffith Grand Reunion - September 2015

John Ruskin Ffith Grand Reunion - September 2015

Exterior of John Ruskin College, Selsdon,

site of the Fifth Annual Ruskin Reunion

The Reunion Band from left: John Turner (JRGS
1958-65)
, Mike Balme (JRGS 1958-65), Bob
Hawkins (JRGS 1958-64)
, John Cobley (JRGS
1958-65)
and Pete Curtis (JRGS 1957-62).

John Ruskin Ffith Grand Reunion - September 2015

John Ruskin Ffith Grand Reunion - September 2015

From left: Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66), Russell
Ead (JRGS 1959-66)
, Grant Harrison (JRGS
1959-66)
, Stephen Lander (JRGS 1959-66) and
Martin Preuveneers (JRGS 1958-66) - all five of
whom were members of 1962/3's Form 5U.

Ann and Stephen Lander (JRGS 1959-66)

John Ruskin Ffith Grand Reunion - September 2015

John Ruskin Ffith Grand Reunion - September 2015

Peter Marchant (JRGS 1949-56)

Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-53)

John Ruskin Ffith Grand Reunion - September 2015

John Ruskin Ffith Grand Reunion - September 2015

From left: Russell Ead (JRGS 1959-66)
and Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66)

Geography mark book from 1960-61's Form 2C,
courtesy of Mr. Martin Nunn (JRGS Teacher 1957-73).

This year's event marked not one but four important celebrations: the 95th Anniversary of the school’s opening as a central school on Scarbrook Road in 1920; the 80th Anniversary of the school moving to Tamworth Road in 1935; the 70th Anniversary of it becoming a grammar school in 1945; and the 60th Anniversary of the school moving to the Upper Shirley Road site in 1955.
   And, finally, here is an amusing questionnaire from the reunion, designed by Tom:

Ruskin Reunion Quesionnaire - Sep 2015

Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, September 2015 Email

And this personal report was prepared by co-organisers Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958–65) and Richard "Tom" Thomas (JRGS 1957–64): Following registration, during the serving of refreshments, Alumni and guests were treated to a musical session by 'The Quintet," comprising Mike Balme (JRGS 1958-65), John Cobley (JRGS 1958-65), Pete Curtis (JRGS 1957-62), Bob Hawkins (JRGS 1958-64) and John Turner (JRGS1958-65).
   Subsequently, Ian welcomed all present and then announced the sad news that biology master Mr. Reginald Whellock (JRGS Teacher 1946-56) had died the day before, and just four days short of his 101st birthday. At that time, Pauline, his daughter, was travelling back from France to accompany Reg to the Reunion and his son John was about to travel from America. Most unfortunately whilst travelling through London, Pauline fell and broke a bone in her hand. None the less, with great fortitude she attended the Reunion and she was warmly received by all.
   Ian conveyed to the Reunion the universal expressions of appreciation which had been made by Alumni for the significant, on-going effort of Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) in setting up and running The Mill web-site for the Alumni Society. All hoped that Mel may be able to attend one of the future Reunions, although his living and working in Los Angeles had not allowed that so far.
   Tom spoke to thank the College’s Principal and CEO, Mohammed Ramzan and his staff for all the help they had given to enable the Reunion to take place at the College. Those thanked included Debbie Wright, head of facilities & health & safety, who had made many of the arrangements but could not be present on the day. Tom outlined the Reunion programme and Ian introduced Mohammed and Sally Obertell, marketing director and former teacher, to the gathering.
  Mohammed gave his welcoming address and recognised the effort made by Alumni to attend the Reunion. He stressed how pleased he was to note the link between the former pupils and the present students. He referred to the JRGS Alumni as “Golden Alumni” and said he considered it important that his current students learn about our heritage and achievements. In this regard a press release of the Reunion will be placed on the College web-site.
   Mohammed made mention of the “Outstanding College” rating by Ofsted and the intention to go forward from this to create a truly great College. He said that the College’s students came from diverse backgrounds, and that 70% were from families where the annual household income was less than £21,000. It had been said by Ofsted that there is no link between disadvantage and under-achievement. The College believes that and works tirelessly to develop its students. The College and its students have formed global links as far away as China and, closer to home, in European countries such as The Netherlands and France. As part of this, trips are made periodically by students, for instance to France to study business practices.

Golden Alumni Bursary Fund for the college students
Mohammed continued by saying that he wished to launch a “Golden Alumni Bursary Fund” for the College students. The purpose would be to enhance learning, particularly in the use of mobile technology which is becoming more prevalent. Due to their background, a number of students do not have access to mobile devices and technology and Mohammed wishes to find ways of overcoming this, to strengthen students’ skills levels in this field. However, the purpose of setting up the Bursary Fund was not just to raise money but would include dialogue between Alumni and students.
   In conclusion, Mohammed thanked the Alumni for the role they are all playing in promoting the John Ruskin “brand”. (Later, Tom and Ian will progress with the College, the matter of the “Golden Alumni Bursary Fund” for the College students.)
   In her presentation, Sally gave further details of the college’s impressive record in obtaining the “Outstanding College” rating. Amongst other matters, Ofsted’s Report said “teaching, learning and assessment are outstanding”, “support and guidance are excellent”, “the development of learners’ knowledge and success is outstanding” and “progression rates to higher levels of learning are high”. The final comment referred to the progression to further education and university as well as the world of work and the participation in apprenticeships. Sally outlined other recent achievements of the College including the “Leaders in Diversity Achievement”. John Ruskin was the first college in the country to receive this award.
   Tom replied to the presentations by saying that the John Ruskin Grammar School Alumni Society was very pleased to offer to the College a cup for the “Student of the Year” in a category to be decided by Mohammed, be that for academic achievement or for a special contribution to the college. A cheque as an initial part of a donation to the College from the Alumni was also offered at this time. The cup and the cheque were presented to Mohammed by Pauline Sandeman, Reg’s daughter, the original intention having been that Reg himself would present them.
   Tom’s analysis of previous Reunion feedback had highlighted a general request for a more substantial luncheon, so at this Reunion a three course hot meal was supplied by the College’s own caterers.
   After lunch, three former College Students, Aida, Tom and Alex, together with a present student Khatija, each gave a short presentation of what they had gained from their attendance at John Ruskin College and their aims for the future. Their speeches were very illuminating, positive and inspirational. Aida is reading Law at The University of Exeter and hopes to become a human-rights barrister. Alex had studied sports courses at the College and carried out coaching in that time. Now he has joined the College Staff and is working in Student Services. Tom studied graphics design and related topics at the College. He has now commenced his university studies in Winchester, to progress in this field by studying computer-based “Games Art and Graphics”. Khatija said she spoke six languages when she joined the college but her English was poor. However, the Alumni were impressed by the high standard of her English as demonstrated in her presentation. Her aim is to become Prime Minister of her country, Madagascar.
  The quartet acted as guides to four groups of Alumni on visits to the Student Services Centre, the Digital Media Suite, the Hair and Beauty Salon, the Virtual Nursery and Virtual Hospital Ward. It is added that the provision of a crèche for students’ babies enables study to continue alongside motherhood. Although offering GCSE tuition and structured “A” Level Pathways, the provision of a range of vocational and supporting traineeship and apprenticeship courses renders the College’s offerings much broader than the largely academic curriculum that most Alumni had known.
   At the conclusion of the guided visits, Tom thanked and congratulated the student guides and presented them each with a card and cash gift from the Alumni.
   Using the impressive video projection system in the Learning Resources Centre, with the assistance of Helene Greenidge, learning services manager, Tom showed a film of the Presentation of New Colours to The 1st Cadet Battalion, The Queen’s Regiment, of which the John Ruskin Company was a part. This had taken place at John Ruskin Grammar School in 1965 on the Golden Anniversary of the Foundation of the Surrey Army Cadet Force and the Battalion. Tom had transferred his 50-year-old 8mm film to video, with new titles and sound track (with assistance from his brother Ernie and nephew Sy). Several Ruskin pupils were identified on the parade, including George Strelczuk (JRGS 1958-66), John Whittington (JRGS 1963-65) and Ian Macdonald. Having just left Ruskin at the end of 1964, Tom had become an Adult Under Officer in advance of receiving his TA Commission. Other adult officers included the Honorary Colonel of Surrey Army Cadet Force, Colonel John Goad; 1st Battalion Commanding Officer, Major Roger Nebel; Second in Command Captain Doug Honeyball; Adjutant Captain Frank Wells; Captain Leslie Bishop and Lieutenants John Radcliffe (a former JRGS Latin master), John Hopper and Les Rebeck. Ex-Ruskin adult sergeant Instructor Vernon Reeve also appears. We cannot recall why Captain Ken Maggs, Officer Commanding the John Ruskin Company, was not present on this parade.
   The double act of Peter Marchant (JRGS 1949-56) and Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-53) was next in the proceedings. An extensively researched timeline and series of historical photographs were displayed and explained. These depicted the predecessors to the John Ruskin Grammar School at Shirley. The four Anniversaries being celebrated by this Reunion were mentioned and a fifth was identified. That was the 65th Anniversary of the formation of “J” Company, the John Ruskin Army Cadet Force Company of the 1st Cadet Battalion, The Queens Regiment. The origin of the School Motto, Age Quod Agis, was given by Peter: it featured on a Ruskin Family grave in the Church Yard of St John in Shirley Church Road. However, no name was present on the grave of the family member.
   The day closed with more music from The Quintet and further refreshments in advance of the homeward trips.
   It was particularly pleasing that some Alumni who had never attended before, did so this year. Special mention should be made of Tony Best, accompanied by his wife Annette, who had only been able to say the day before that they could attend if places remained. As a result, he met Ray “Sprout” Young, who nearly did not attend as he was due to pack for a caravan holiday; they hadn’t met for 55 years. Tony Childs met Bob Wane (not seen since 1953 – 62 years) and John “Muffin” Crumplin (not seen since 1950 - an all but unbelievable 65 years). Your organisers consider that these sorts of encounter make the Reunions especially worthwhile. Travellers from afar included John Cobley and Martin Preuveneers from San Francisco, Pete Goulding from Thailand and Harold Fish from Germany.
   As a result of further donations made during the day and later, Tom will be forwarding a second cheque to Mohammed for the College Bursary, as the second part of the donation from the Alumni. This will bring the total for the Alumni’s Reunion donation to £600.