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.
| 2011 Reunion
| 2012 Reunion
Flash Gallery |
Our thanks to co-organisers: Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958–65) and Richard "Tom"
Thomas (JRGS 1957–64).
(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
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.
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 College, Selsdon,
site of the Fifth Annual Ruskin
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).
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
Stephen Lander (JRGS 1959-66)
Marchant (JRGS 1949-56)
Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-53)
Russell Ead (JRGS 1959-66)
and Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66)
Geography mark book from 1960-61's Form
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:
Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, September
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
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 website 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
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
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
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
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
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.