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10 Dec 2021    Reception for Old Eastbournians attending Les Misérables
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10 December 2021 - Reception for Old Eastbournians attending Les Misérables

The Eastbournian Society held a champagne reception on Friday 10 December for Old Eastbournians in the arts and entertainment world.

They were all attending the evening performance of the College production of the musical Les Misérables, which ran for four days from Wednesday to Saturday.

We were delighted to welcome a number of OEs, including actors, musicians and producers, along with other members of the society.

After the performance, the cast had a chance to meet the guests at a post-show reception.

Pictured here are left to right, Patti Clare (Nugent 1983-85), who plays Mary Taylor in Coronation Street; Headmaster Tom Lawson; actor and comedian Eddie Izzard (Pennell 1975-80); Chairman of Governors Philip Broadley; and Development Director Emma Garrett.

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2 December 2012 - Eastbournian Society December newsletter

Development Director Emma Garrett writes:

On happy coincidences.

You know those nights when you can’t sleep and you can’t quite work out why? I’m having one of those. I have decided not to fight it any longer but to actually do something in the hope that I might then drift off, so I’m starting to write the December newsletter - not I might add in the expectation that it will bore me so much that I will drift off, but rather to get some remarkable things out of my head in the hope that in offloading them, sleep might come to me.

There have been some wonderful coincidences that have occurred since I last wrote. Actually, they are not really coincidences at all but it's more to do with six degrees of separation, combined with serendipity, community and kindness.

Most recently, last week we held our insurance networking event in the City. This was an opportunity for our Lower and Upper Sixth formers (I still can’t get used to calling them Year 12 and 13s) to experience the buzz of a City venue on a Wednesday night. Not only could they witness first hand bankers, lawyers, brokers and other high achievers exchanging ideas over a glass or wine or two - strictly soft drinks for our pupils - but also to talk to OEs and parents in the industry who were generous with their time and could share advice and offer guidance.

They heard from our guest speaker Danyalle Brinsmead whose enthusiasm about the insurance world was palpable and who, as a parent of a current Year 11 pupil, embraced the Eastbournian Society family and volunteered her time and insights. I spoke to Jamie Garratt at length (no, we are not related, despite the ginger hair - my name being spelt with an e, and his an a) in my mind, an Eastbournian through and through. We had connected recently via Instagram (@jcgarratt) after his epic walk from John O’Groats to Land's End, raising over £7,000 for Calm - Campaign Against Living Miserably - an incredible charity. His dedication to the challenge and his thought for others are for me the qualities that Eastbournians leave the school with, and it is these attributes that will stand them in good stead for whatever they do in the future, although they might well not realise this at the time.

But meeting Jamie Garratt, despite the hair and the name, was not the coincidence I am talking of. It was another OE who attended the event - a recent psychology graduate from Coventry University whose name rang a bell, one Christian Trzebinski (Pennell 2012-16), but I could not for the life of me think why. We spoke of Bahrain - ah, another coincidence, a country we had both lived in and, curiouser and curiouser, he had been at primary school with my children at St Christopher’s International School in Budaiya so I thought I must recognise his name from there. But lo and behold it came to me the next day - Christian and my brother Mark Le Brocq (Craig 1979-84) had actually sung together in Bahrain in a fundraising concert I organised back in 2007. Small world moment.

Prior to the evening’s gathering, I had met up with Giles Taylor (Gonville 1981-86) ahead of his performance in The Mirror and the Light. Direct contemporaries at school and good friends, we have kept in touch periodically over the years and it was good to touch base once more post-pandemic. What was bizarre was that only two days later we would hear of the sudden death of Stephen Sondheim at the age of 91 after a Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

Giles introduced me to Sondheim (not literally, sadly) and I will be eternally grateful to him for that. We sang together with Sue Brown (Nugent 1984-86) accompanied on the piano by James Hillman (Blackwater 1982-87) (who incidentally I had also met up with recently at our previous networking event for banking and broking) in Side by Side by Sondheim - a truly ambitious project that I am extraordinarily proud to have been part of (and incidentally I think was instrumental in me landing a part in the Warwick University production of Company which did transfer to the West End (for one night only)), but that is another story.

More theatre trips are on the cards for those interested, including Pantoland on Wednesday 8 December (last chance to book is Friday 3 December) and My Fair Lady on Thursday 19 May. I think you may have missed the boat for the College production of Les Misérables if you haven’t booked already, but the performance at 3.00pm on Thursday 9 December will be live-streamed and you can watch it by following this link: https://vimeo.com/event/1618348.

As some of you will now be aware, we have sadly, and after much careful consideration, decided to postpone the Winter Ball to a more suitable date next year. In Eastbourne, Covid infection rates have increased by around 30% in the past week. The emergence of the Omicron variant has added to the risk of further increases in the weeks ahead. Even with precautions in place, we feel the risk of infection spread from such a large event is too great to take so close to Christmas. We would hate for anyone’s Christmas plans to be ruined. We are so disappointed in having to do this, but we hope that you will be able to come back to a bigger and better celebration next year.

In other news - we have launched a new initiative, the Eastbournian Society Sports Club (ESSC), the purpose of which is to enable you, our members, to make the most of the wonderful facilities here at the school. In essence, the club runs in term time only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8.30 to 10.30am. During this time ES members will be able to gain exclusive access to the squash courts, fitness suite and swimming pool, with tennis courts available to book in the Lent and summer terms. We are currently running a trial period until the end of term, and next term we will open the scheme up to all ES members. If you would like to take part we will be asking for a donation each time you use the facilities, and all the proceeds of this will go towards the College Bursaries Fund. We hope to encourage parents to drop their children off at St Andrew’s and the College and then come and use the facilities prior to a social chat in the newly refurbished Tim’s café (the exercise bit is not compulsory so do join for the coffee and croissant if you prefer).

The café is open to the public from Monday to Saturday as some of our members discovered recently. Currently proof of a negative lateral flow test is required before you can enter the school, and masks must be again worn in communal areas within the school. For more information about the sports club please contact Helen Medlycott at HCMedlycott@eastbourne-college.co.uk.

I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to our Year 9 parents at the parents evening on Friday, and it has been lovely to get to know them at our networks and other events since the start of term. We are one of the few schools that include the current parents as well as past parents in our community and it is a credit to the hard work put in by my predecessors that there is such a high level of engagement. I had the honour of walking with one of these key people, Forbes Wastie, this week and was delighted to spend an hour in his company where I could personally thank him for laying such a firm foundation for the work I do.

A less lovely element of what I do is hearing about members of our OE community who have passed away. With a school of this size that has been running for so many years, sadly this is something that happens regularly and this month we honour David Burston (who was on the staff at Ascham from 1970 to 1977) and died aged 83 on 23 November and Tony Booth (School 1957-61) who died in Australia a day later aged 78. Our sincere condolences go out to both families.

If you are a member of the Devonshire Society, which is our legacy-giving club, you will shortly receive a small gift in the post. If you are not a member but would like to find out more please me on 01323 452308 or email me at ECBGarrett@eastbourne-college.co.uk. Next year we celebrate 20 years of giving by our generous benefactors and we thank our 81 members of the Devonshire Society for their support - not only for capital projects, but for those who sponsor talented pupils from low-income families by contributing to their fees.

Some of the earliest members of the Devonshire Society are pictured here in 2006, when their annual lunch was attended by the Duke of Devonshire, in the centre of the picture.

Without the generosity of so many people from within our community this school would not be in the enviable position it is today, supporting a healthy socio-economic mix of pupils from a wide range of backgrounds. It is my fortunate position to be able to act as a conduit between those who seek to make a difference to a young person’s life, whether as regular givers, legacy givers, or those with a tax-efficient donation to make, and those who would benefit from an Eastbourne College education, but who otherwise would not be able to afford the fees. A transformational bursary does exactly that - it changes someone’s life. Please do get in touch if you would like to find out more ahead of next year’s campaign.

Our community is incredible and powerful. Thank you to everyone who has connected since my return to the College. You know who you are – too many people to mention individually.

My talk of Gerard Manley Hopkins evoked much response last month including more poetry - this Larkin quote was shared with me - what do you make of it?

Truly, though our element is time,
We are not suited to the long perspectives
Open at each instant of our lives

That is more than enough from me for now – please look out for an email about the College Christmas Carol service for visitors which will follow.

Stay well and stay in touch,
Emma

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