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News > Events > Sydney gathering at Bentley Restaurant

Sydney gathering at Bentley Restaurant

15 Mar 2024

Friday 8 March, Bentley Restaurant, Sydney

On Friday 8 March, some of the antipodean Eastbournian Society members gathered for what was a magnificent evening at Bentley's Restaurant here in Sydney. 

Despite the fact that we are on the other side of the world, we remain connected with strong links to the College and cherish our memories of that time. 

This was illustrated by each of the alumni who spoke passionately during the evening, with very heartfelt messages. It was a pleasure to meet Philip Spanton (School 1972–77) and to hear him talk about how his time at Eastbourne helped lead to his own success in business and in life, not only in being independent and making your own path but also asking for what you want from life and in work. He joined the prep school at the age of 7 years and learnt from a very young age the importance of hard work, integrity, and ambition. Other key lessons he learnt were not to settle for second best and to push yourself forward to achieve more. 

My own experience of the College was rocky to begin with, having had a tough first year. However subsequently I enjoyed the academic side of school life, making lifelong friendships and igniting my own passion for sport in tennis, cross-country running, skiing and rugby. Tom Holden (Wargrave 1946–49) who travelled down from Buderim in Queensland spoke of his time being taught at the school just after the Second World War, and how he then moved to Western Australia with his family and joined the Royal Australian Navy. One core value the College has instilled in all of us is a sense of independence. The confidence to be ourselves and to make a success of our own lives shone through as did the importance of defining success on our own terms not by others’ preconceived ideas of what success looks like to them.

Emma Garrett (Nugent 1984–86), development director at Eastbourne commented on how enjoyable her visit to Australia had been, making many new friends and re-acquainting herself with old ones. She spoke of the forthcoming Blue Sky Bursaries Appeal at Eastbourne College which will support talented children who otherwise would not be able to have the education from which the OEs in the room had benefited. There was much interest from the group in perhaps joining together to help build a pot of money to put towards the Charity’s fundraising ambitions.

Each of us have had very different journeys and circumstances during our lives but the College has set us up for great success to forge strong careers, travel the world and live and work overseas. Being an Old Eastbournian clearly means having the confidence to follow your dreams, and the strength to make it happen. 

I hope that Emma is successful in her mission to encourage us to ‘give something back’ as an acknowledgement of how much the College gave to us.

Thank you everyone for being there, and thank you to Bentley's for providing such outstanding food and wine. 

All the very best for 2024!

I look forward to the next gathering down under.

James Muirhead (Gonville 1991–96)

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