News headlines – January 2022

17 Jan 2022    Eastbournian Society January newsletter
7 Jan 2022    Vice Admiral Chris Gardner (Pennell 1976-81) awarded KBE in New Year's Honours
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17 January 2022 - Eastbournian Society January newsletter

Development Director Emma Garrett writes:

I’ve just finished reading The High House by, as it turns out once you have read it, the aptly-named Jessie Greengrass. There is no OE connection as far as I know but I am discovering more and more in this role that, if you look hard enough, there normally is one; it’s that six degrees of separation thing. I read the book post-Christmas in the throes of terrible torrential rain and a dose of Covid in my household, and it really made me stop and think. It paints a bleak picture of the future of our climate and our world. I know many of our alumni are actively involved in trying to work towards a better future, from those in the world of medical research to those working in engineering, sustainability and climate change. I feel proud that an Eastbourne education has equipped them well for these purposes, and cling on to a certain optimism for the future that is happily at odds with this book. My household is testing negative, the sun has come out again and the skies are a stunning blue which does help.

Talking about the future, the Eastbournian Society is co-hosting the annual Futures Convention with the Futures Department at the College on 4 March. Please get in touch with Helen (hcmedlycott@eastbourne-college.co.uk) if you would like to offer to assist. I know Lulu has sent out various emails asking for help; we really do value your assistance and input so please don’t leave it to other people to volunteer. The convention offers pupils from Year 11 and the sixth form, as well as their parents, a chance to speak with employers, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, colleges, universities, and a range of other exhibitors who are able to offer insight into numerous different future pathways.

Graduate and non-graduate careers will be represented; support organisations with information and advice about apprenticeships, study in the USA and preparing for job interviews are also in attendance. There will be a variety of gap-year providers present to talk to pupils about their options for time out of the education system before, after or instead of university. If you are able to offer insight into any of these areas, please do get in touch; this is an incredible opportunity for our pupils to broaden their outlook; a far cry from the career advice some of us were given back in the day.

Before talking more about our future events, I wanted to take a few moments to think about last term. My first full term on site as full-time development director went in a thoroughly enjoyable flash and I did want to say a personal thank you to all those of you who have welcomed me into the Eastbournian Society with open arms and who have supported the Eastbournian Society in myriad ways, too many to mention but I hope these photographs give some indication of the amazing people I meet along the way. I’ll give a prize to the first person to come back with the names of all the ES members/OEs in the pics.

The school term ended on a high with the production of Les Misérables which was phenomenal. This was summed up by OE Erica Hyder (née Pulford) (Nugent 1983–84):

‘What a STUNNING production of Les Mis which was watched by an enraptured audience last night. The breadth and depth of fabulous talent the College is lucky to have at the moment is outstanding. From staging to cast to orchestra to make up, costumes etc. It was an evening of total musical theatre pleasure at an amazing standard. I felt like I had been to the West End.’

Afterwards, the cast and crew had the opportunity to meet with alumni and ES members involved in the creative arts, and we thank all those who returned for this event and to Patti Clare (Nugent 1983-85) (now playing Mary Taylor in Coronation Street) for chatting to the pupils about her career as an actor.

Please look out for Circus; a four-day cross-campus arts festival which we are busy planning for April which will showcase many of our talented alumni, from Paul Mayhew-Archer to Ed Speleers. And while on the subject of musicals, if you happened to have been in any of the three College productions of My Fair Lady over the last 46 years (1976, 1989 and 1999 with casts that have included the likes of Eddie Izzard and Michael Praed), or even if you haven’t, please book for the matinée at the London Coliseum on Thursday 19 May. We are also hoping to meet up for lunch beforehand; more details later. We need theatre bookings confirmed by 4 February please, so contact jt@eastbourne-college.co.uk. There are currently 30 stalls tickets at £55 (reduced from £90) up for grabs, first come first served.

There was plenty of activity in the Sports Department last term as well and it really did feel like things were getting back to normal. To sum up, we had 12 sports and 31 teams playing in 178 fixtures with over 75 per cent (almost 500 pupils) wearing the College crest and competing in the weekend, mid-week and national cup matches.

While on the subject of sport, the Old Eastbournian Golf Society (OEGS) is organising two new events in 2022, both of which will be open to all members of the Eastbournian Society but which we are particularly keen for younger players to enter.

Firstly a singles knockout tournament. The early rounds can be played anywhere but are most likely to be at the home club of one or other of the competitors. The semi-finals and final will be played at a prestigious club on a set day in the autumn, this day being paid for by the (£10) entry fees and some subsidy from the OEGS. A new trophy will be presented to the overall winner.

Entry is via the OEGS website for current OEGS members (with entries closing on 25 March). Anyone who is not currently a member should in the first instance contact Chris Walker at president@oegolf.uk.

Secondly we are planning a Texas Scramble (team event) which will be played at a club in the Home Counties area and most likely in September 2022. Membership of the OEGS will not be a condition of entry and we shall be making a concerted effort to get as many OEs under the age of 30 to play. Colin Farrant is organising this second event and would love to hear from anyone interested in taking part: colinpgfarrant@live.co.uk.

And while we are on the subject of golf, our annual Foundation Golf Challenge is due to take place at the Royal Eastbourne Golf Club on Thursday 7 July. This event raises funds for the Peter Bibby Award, enabling a talented young cricketer the opportunity of a College education which they may not otherwise have. If you would like to get a team of four together, then contact Helen. As a result of Covid, it will be three years since we held the last golf challenge, which means that this day promises to be a truly spectacular comeback as teams compete for prestigious prizes, ahead of a delicious supper and an auction. As those of you who have taken part before will be aware, the experiences up for grabs have to be seen to be believed! All players welcome (over-18s only).

But if golf isn’t your thing there are plenty of other sporting activities to catch your eye, be that an evening at Sixes Cricket in Fulham on 3 March or a one-day OE hockey festival on 28 May.

While time and space prevents me from writing more about the school or ES events here, all our activities are on our website, as are many alumni achievements such as Vice Admiral Christopher Gardner CBE being honoured by Her Majesty The Queen in the New Year's Honours List and promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in recognition of his distinguished service in the Royal Navy. You can follow the school in a number of ways via the website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The Eastbournian Society has a new Instagram account which will be up and running very soon – follow us at @eastbourniansociety to ensure you don’t miss the latest updates. Our website will be changing this year to a far more interactive platform and we are excited to be making this upgrade. The Old Eastbournian magazine will be winging its way to you next month as well so please do look out for that.

We have so many varied events coming up, some of which you will have received emails about and all of which are listed on our website. Personally I am very much looking forward to joining the Friends of St Andrew’s at their Burns Night Dinner and Ceilidh coming up on 22 January – tickets are just £25 which includes a three-course traditional Burns Night Supper. It is BYOB but the ES is very happy to be providing a bottle of something rather special for each table as a New Year gift. Our thanks to ES member Rob Hunter of Woodreed Vineyard for his generous support – we thoroughly enjoy this locally grown organic fizz, perfect for any celebration! Tickets for this event are available here. Details of all upcoming ES events will be published as soon as they are available so please do keep an eye out. 

The headmaster, in his end-of-term assembly talk which you can read here, mentioned Lulu, who really will be leaving us at the end of January, having been persuaded to do a few extra days' work this month. Like the novel I referred to at the start of this newsletter, Tom Lawson’s talk alluded to serious problems with our global system. More optimistically his autobiography of a pencil analogy underlines (sorry) just how interdependent we all are, and that I feel is the absolute crux of the story of the Eastbournian Society. The relationship between our current pupils, alumni, current parents, past parents, staff, past staff and the wider community is what gives us our strength as an organisation, across the generations. By relying on each other and working together we can celebrate our achievements, aspire to collective greatness, and initiate changes for the good in a whole host of ways.

Thank you for being a part of the community and we look forward to great things in 2022.

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7 January 2022 - Vice Admiral Chris Gardner (Pennell 1976-81) awarded KBE in New Year's Honours

Vice Admiral Chris Gardner (Pennell 1976-81) has been appointed as a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) in the 2022 New Year's Honours.

Chris joined the Royal Navy as a logistics officer in 1984, and served at sea initially in the Submarine Service on HMS Tireless, followed by HMS Sirius and HMS Endurance. He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1994, then Commander in 1999, becoming Executive Assistant to Flag Officer Sea Training before taking up his last sea-going appointment as Commander Logistics in HMS Ark Royal.

Further promotions followed, as Captain in 2004, then Deputy Head of Capability for Expeditionary Logistics and Support in the Ministry of Defence in late 2006. Promoted to Commodore in 2010, he became Head of Capability Improvement. In 2014 and after nearly eight years at the MoD, he returned to the Navy as Commodore responsible for the capability management for the bulk of the surface fleet. He was promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral and become Chief of Materiel (Ships) at Defence Equipment and Support in April 2019, a position since re-titled as Director General Ships. 

Chris told us: 'I was genuinely surprised but utterly delighted to find myself on the New Year's Honours list. It is a huge honour to have been promoted to KBE, especially in the current circumstances where so many people are doing extraordinary things, particularly in our brilliant NHS. I would also like to recognise the outstanding people and team I work with, both military and civilian.'

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